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My Tunisian adventures My Tunisian travels, trips 1, 2 and 3

Wedding in Tunisia! September/October 2010, Tunisia trip 3

TUNISIA | Monday, 8 November 2010 | Views [1924]

Fateh and me dancing @ wedding party, photo 2

Fateh and me dancing @ wedding party, photo 2

Finally I got organised to return to Tunisia again. I arrived on September 1 and the plan was to stay in Tunisia until September 30, then go to Spain to visit one of my Couchsurfing friends, a vibrant, flamenco dancing, fun-loving good friend like a sister, Elena. After that, I was going to go to Dubai for 3 days and had accomodation organised with an enthusiastic and interesting Couchsurfer who is a photography. I had to change my plans and actually had the entire time from 1 September - October 7 in Tunisia.

My husband-to-be and me hoped to get married.

The organisation of the marriage was quite complicated, mostly because of the timing of my month off work. Without realising it, I had organised time off work to come to Tunisia, hopefully for the marriage, but it coincided with Ramadan. Due to Ramadan and the short business hours, it made the organising of the documentation, submitting it and getting the Doctors certificate and all the translations in the short time we had, it made it very interesting and intense indeed. My birth certificate had to be 21 days or less. I had a Certificate of No Incapacity from a government department in Australia. However when I got to Tunisia, the Canada Embassy, which should have just translated the document to French for me, they insisted that I had to get their own Certificate of No Impediment (or No Incapacity), which was in French. The Wilaya that Fateh (my husband-to-be) and me were hopefully getting married in, they said that they would accept my Australian one......

So, anyway a lot of things happened very slowly,

We got told one thing by one person and one by another and were given the run around a little. However the Wilaya was very helpful, particularly with giving detailed email replies to me, of explanation. They were not a problem. I felt that I got treated discriminatingly by the Canada embassy who act for Australians in Tunisia. They actually told me one thing by email, which I have kept and then something completely different when I actually went to the embassy. Anyway after quite a few days of going to Tunis from a country area, during the heat and during Ramadan and being given the run around a lot. We finally got all our translations and documents in order.

The next thing was to get everything in triplicate and submit it and wait at the wilaya. Or in fact we submitted everything, waited and finally they gave us a date for the signing of the contract. During this time I got sick with some kind of allergy and needed Ventoline but was not able to communicate this to the family I was staying with. Even though I was sick and was having breathing difficulties, we did actually sign the marriage contract. The wilaya "lost" the medical certificate that we has already submitted in triplicate. On the morning of the signing of the marriage contract, we arrived punctually for the time we were given and they told us that we only had given them one copy of the Medical Certificate. We had already been to the Doctor, paid and go the certificate, then went to the copying place, copied it and submitted it to the council On the morning of the signing, we were ready to sign and they said that they did not even have the medical certificate, so we had to go back to the Dr, pay again, get another Medical Certificate and then go back to the taxiphone company and get the certificate copied in triplicate.I was sick that morning and we had to rush in the heat to and from the Doctor and then rush back, so we did not lose our alloted time for the signing of the marriage contract. I did manage to organise an asthma puffer, kind of by using sign language with the Doctor. Even though I felt quite sick, it also was rather! Surely the Wilaya had a photocopying machine. They had lost the certificate but we had to scurry very quickly from the Wilaya to the doctor then to the photocopying place, wait in a queue, wait for the copying to be done. Then we had to rush back to the wilaya office, submit those papers and then wait to see if that was OK. Finally they gave us the go ahead. Phew!Over the period of sevreal days when we were dealing with the Wilaya, the main person that was in charge of organising our marriage contract had only Arabic and no French and definately no English. She just kept looking at me with a blank look.My Arabic was very little, I had some French but there was no-one who was being really helpful to me. I find it not too difficult to communicate using gestures and phrasebooks or writing a few words down and pointing. But that did not work with this lady and her fellow staff. Her fellow workers had some French and my husband-to-be had some English. They ended up being just too busy having side conversations in Arabic and there were facts that I needed to tell them but they actually just did not listen to me. There is a bit of a culture of listening to the man and not the woman in that region. My husband-to-be was of the view that a woman should speak 1/4 of the time that the man in the relationship spoke. That did not actually work, when the wilaya was asking questions about me and no-one else knew the information. I had to draw on all my reserves of patience because they just did not listen to me and my husband to be, did not know the facts about me.

However it was Ramadan and most people were a little sleep deprived. Some people's patience was frayed. Am sure that the concentration span of some people was affected. I believe that I conducted myself in quite a dignified way, considering how I felt, quite unwell. I was panicking about my breathing difficulty. My husband's brother, Abeche, actually part way through the signing of the contract went to pick up the Ventoline puffer for me. He was one of the witnesses, so that actually delayed the signing of the contract even further. We found a man in the waiting area of the wilaya chambers who no-one knew and he said that he would be our witness, (temoin) Anyway that was really sweet and he was happy to do it. It was kind of funny, we had to do this quick hunt around to find another witness because Abeche just disappeared. Quite a few funny things actually happened and a friend who was there in the room said it was the funniest wedding she had ever been to. Finally it was actually over. We struggled to keep straight faces and were actually laughing out loud. It was difficult to remain composed. This was all rather difficult for some of the wilaya workers who only had Arabic. My friend was English, so she understood my humour. This was all observed by some, I think police who were watching us through a glass window. This was occuring in a non-soundproof room with glass walls on several sides. Eventually we then went out the back for more paper work. There were actually workmen right next to us, using loud power tools. The contract was Arabic, then French and I had it all explained to me in English. Even though there were holdups and it was like a comedy farce in some ways, it also was a very special time. My husband and me were relieved that we actually had signed the contract. All we then had to do, as it was Ramadan, was to wait until after Ramadan to have the grande fete , the marriage party or reception. We signed the contract on September 7th and had to wait until after Ramadan and after the Aid Al-Fitr, end of Ramadan holiday and feast. We managed to have the party on September 25th and it was great. Getting all that organised during Ramadan, we found quite challenging. Hamdullah we did get it all sorted out. Thanks to Allah. I ended up in hospital from 11th September until 28th September, but I was out for 24th September and 25th which was the date we got married. We did not have much time to organise the wedding reception but it went really smoothly and it was lovely and a night to remember. We had a very happy night. I will continue this later.

Tags: tunisia, wedding

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