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The Medina and me

TUNISIA | Monday, 16 August 2010 | Views [742]

Journal entry
" The medina of Tunisia is very large and is fascinating. Its narrow winding alleys and covered bazaars are crammed with craft workshops, painters, metal workers, jewellery stalls, leather goods shops,perfumers, hole in the wall coffee shops,where I was lucky enough to get coffee, arabish at stall owners prices, with a friend who has a jewellery stall there..300 mill instead of 2.50 dinars.Helped to stretch out the budget! There are eating places, bread shops, fruit and vegetable stalls, meat, traditional Berber clothing sold in clothing stalls, including the jalabia and also clothing like the burnouse, which I saw was the mode of dress of the shepherds in the Takrouna region. They were of various escalating prices depending on the material. I must get some next time. The medina has quite a few mosques, eateries, hammams apparantly but I did not see any. Amazing and incredible doors. A fun experience was when I was taking a photo of a big, beautiful wooden door, like 3 metres by 3 metres with ornate woodwork and patterns in metal stud-work. Some stall holders sitting on crates in front of this door I admired, offered to sell it to me...they said it could be arranged for a box of whiskey....a truck in the middle of the night...
of course I had no room for it in my bags! but I said it belonged in Tunisia. It was a funny conversation. There are some pillars in the medina from the Roman occupied time. Also the crenallated walls, of the soft sandstone colour are lovely. The exotic smells, the hammering of the metal workers, wood workers and the handcrafts of all types, combined with the crowded souks, and people with barrows, trolleys, bicycles and on foot, carrying goods through the narrow alley ways all make for an unforgettable experience. There are similar goods in the smaller souks and medinas of other towns but you are more likely to see donkeys carrying goods. Very often I was offered a cup of coffee or menthe (mint) tea and the amount of stall holders who wanted to practice their English and were happy to speak of their culture, was nice. They are often genuinely interested when they find out I am Australian, and happy when they know I have a very little arabic and am attempting to learn it. Also when they know I am interested in Islam...they get very excited about that. I really love souks, medinas..oh and I got lost in the Tunis medina. A stall holder I became friends with, let me leave some of his bags in his shop in a back room..with valuables removed of course. That was a kindness shown to me. I bought him some coffee in return."

Tags: coffee, friendship, fun, hospitality, lost, maze-like, medina, sights, smells, sounds



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