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The New Attraction

New Attraction

TUNISIA | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [133] | Scholarship Entry

I was standing in the middle of the street, looking for a getaway from the hungry stares of local teenagers. I tried to remember why I was alone at night in a small town near the Tunisian Sahara in the first place. The delicious smell of briks stuffed with tuna and eggs made fresh from a cart by a frail old man reminded me. I was hungry and my hotel did not serve hot food at 2 am at night. I put on the loosest and longest clothes I could find and thought it would be a good idea to explore the local area.

The night was taken over by the Milky Way and masses of stars, shining mercifully above my head.
The dusty streets full of rubbish and small mewing cats. On one side of the street, delicious food and colorful ice-cream in the window of a café, sat outside old men smoking shisha and playing cards. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone waving, trying to invite me to the café. As teenagers started making a move towards me, I rushed eagerly to the stranger.

The waiter came by, carrying mint tea with pine nuts. The strong smell of mint, combined with clouds of apple shishas all around made me feel dizzy with happiness. Smoking shisha, I told him about my Sahara trip and how I just wanted to explore more than what was in our programme.

'This is your lucky night', he said and asked me to follow him. We walked into a very small passage. It was dark and quiet. I started praying in my mind, when he opened the door, and gently pushed me inside.

The immediate noise almost swept me off my feet. The small square was full of people of all genders and age. There were a few men in the centre, dressed in white traditional clothing, playing, as someone explained- Malouf. Some women grabbed me and took me to a room, where they began my transformation. I looked in the mirror only to see a stranger girl staring back. She had long red robes embroidered with coins that gracefully tinkled with every movement and blood red lips. I smiled, she smiled. I took her to dance around the locals. We tried doing ululation and laughed when it sounded nowhere near what the other women did. We had Mamsoudi cakes, each of them looking like a small piece of art. We danced with musicians, moving our hips with the beautiful sound of drums. We were surrounded by various smells of coffee, mint tea, shisha, fresh salads swimming in delicious olive oil. I looked up at the palm trees, bending around the whole square like old women who were protecting us.

We had the best night of our life.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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