Sfax is not an outwardly beautiful city; rather it is practical and self-effacing. The buildings here employ a color palette of white and beige, trash cans go largely unused, and I haven’t yet found a grassy park in which I can escape the bustling traffic and crowded walkways. Many cities in Tunisia have a thriving tourist industry, but Sfax serves only its own – the businessmen, the students, the families. Ironically, the largest tourist draw here is the medina because it is untouched by tourism and therefore offers travelers an authentic shopping experience.
I think the challenge for all of us is to find beauty everywhere, to seek it out. Beauty in my city can be found in the smallest of details.. a cluster of brightly colored flowers spilling over a wall, a minaret, or something as simple as a cactus in bloom.
And then there are the bigger, more obvious images which capture my attention. I find myself repeatedly drawn back to the old city walls that surround the medina and imagining all that they have witnessed – from the French colonial empire, to bombings during World War II, to present day. That they have witnessed and survived so much history is truly beautiful.