On Thursday, after playing dress-up, I went with Sana and Wafa to discover the Borj Kallel – a historic 19th century home which now occupies a cultural center. The courtyard has been converted into an open space for creating art – the space is free to use provided you bring your own materials, or you can take a class. As we were getting ready to leave some painters arrived and began setting up their canvases. What an inspiring place to create!
Two of the rooms have been transformed into galleries, another houses a small library, and yet another displays antique objects and furniture.
I hope to return to the Borj in the future for cultural events (next Friday there will be an evening performance with traditional Arabic music) and I’ve also been invited to join a calligraphy class!
Last night, I visited another Borj Kallel – the of one of my student, Mr. Ali Kallel, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences for one of the universities in Sfax. It was truly a memorable night – crowding 10 people around the table for a dinner which more resembled a buffet: soup to start with, followed by 3 different salads, followed by prawns and piles of grilled fish. After dinner we went into the living room to watch TV and have dessert, which consisted of mint tea, pomegranate seeds, fruit and decadent small cakes. I enjoyed spending time with this family so much that I didn’t want to leave, even as midnight was approaching, however I learned an important lesson last night that I will share with any future travelers to Tunisia – if you are invited to a family dinner you should spend the day fasting in preparation! It is a fact that you will be given more food than can comfortably fit into your stomach, and there is no point in arguing – if you politely decline another helping it’s going to end up on your plate anyways so you might as well enjoy the enforced gluttony and join a gym.