Our Travels

March 19, 2012

Exploring Medina

Yesterday we decided to go explore the old part of Tunis or "Medina".  As we neared the Medina our cab driver told us that not much would be open since it was Sunday.  Oops, we didn't even think about that!  First thing we see is razor wire surrounding a small square with a tank and military people in the middle...hmmm where are we??
Arabic version of "wash me", perhaps??
Being in a Muslim country I have no idea how I should dress.  Some people have told me that it's appropriate to keep knees and shoulders covered, others have said not to worry about it as Tunisia is the more Westernized than other middle east countries.  I brought a light cardigan and scarf just in case.  Immediately I felt a bit self conscious as all the other women I saw had on sleeves, and high necked shirts... well most people had on jackets to be truthful but it was just too hot for us to do that.  I was wearing a v-neck shirt so I covered up a little bit with my scarf and felt a bit better about that.  Immediately upon getting out of the cab we had to search for a bathroom for Keenan and found an icecream shop... success in Keenan's eyes, pee and an icecream!
Happy with icecream, is it bad that we rarely let our kids have cones but make them get the bowl and spoon instead?  They make less mess this way somehow...
I thought the side of this building was neat as it had a lot of tilework.
Not sure the history behind this as it stood alone... maybe an old entrance, part of an original wall of the city... I don't know, just thought it was picture worthy.
We immediately find an outdoor market area that looks like it follows the labyrinth of streets and this man says he recognizes us from the hotel, as he works security were we are staying.  He says to follow him as it is the last day of an exhibit down by the Mosque.  At first we were a bit taken back, ok just follow this guy...??  We took a chance and followed.  As we walked along lots of people touched Keenan's head.  This kind of weirded me out.  Were they touching his head because he is blond or just because he is a child and they are very friendly towards children?  I think it's the latter as I eventually saw a passerby'er patting a Tunisian kid's head.
He took us deep into the labyrinth of the market place which was mostly empty and closed by the mosque.  Most shops are only open during the week days.  It was nice not to have to fight the crowds with a stroller.  I am fascinated by doors and found this one to be pretty.  I love the keyhole shape.
Lots of dried herb/spice shops.  As we walked along the market the air was filled with different smells; spices, perfumes, oils, foods... it was all interesting.
Another keyhole door.
Perfume shop
Empty hallways of the market.  We hear these halls get super crowed during the week, I think this would be a bad place to visit in the hot summer months.  Eric and our makeshift guide/hotel security guard.
Love the artwork on this door.
Keyhole with water fountain inside
The guide/guard took us to a store that had lots of fun stuff to buy; mosaics, silver, carpets... lot of carpets and Oh this is where the exhibits was... it was a huge carpet exhibit and of course they were all for sale... for a special price just for us :)  (insert eye rolling here)  I didn't catch all what they were saying as they took us to the roof top first, something about a king in the 1950's maybe... anyhow this is the view of the city we got.

The floor tiles.
Lots of fun tile work and a star shaped water fountain.
The next roof top over, actually they were connected I think.  The Great mosque is right next to this
Another view of the city

The kings bed
Talk about high pressure sales, as I was browsing in the store a salesman came up to, stood in my personal space right up on me and wouldn't leave me alone.  I made the mistake of asking how much the silver bracelets were, he started to wrap it up for me.  I told him that I was only looking today, he of course started to tell me all about the special deals for me.  I kept telling him that I was not going to buy today as we just arrived in Tunis... he still wouldn't leave me alone.  I had to raise my voice and tell him at least 5 more times that I only wanted to look, I was NOT going to buy ANYTHING!  Ugh!  Next door was the guides/gaurds brother's perfume shop, of course...  We bought some lemon oil, a few drops in bathtub water is supposed to help keep the mosquitos off and Keenan already has a bunch of huge welts from them.  We also bought orange oil (for a special price) as it is supposed to help with sleep.  I can't tell you if it helped as I forgot to try that one out but the boys did go to bed smelling of lemon oil. 

A whole bunch of turtles and a cage of hedgehogs.  I asked about the turtles and apparently they are good luck in the house.  No, we did not buy one.
Baskets and baskets of spices.  We did get pressured into buying a tub of red Tunisian spice, I guess its spicy and Tunisians add it to everything.
Our lunch, it was flaky pastry on the outside with a mild white cheese on the inside.  Not bad but too much white cheese stuff on the inside.
Our drinks  and yes the other side does say what it is in English
Eric and I giggle at these shops...  if you look really closely at this bad picture underneath the Coca-cola it says "fruit secs"  What do they do to  their fruit here!?  It actually means "dried" fruit
and I'll leave you with yet another picture of Van clomping around in someone else's shoes.
I can't wait to go back to the market but without the kids, to see what treasure I must have! :)  I would like to buy a mosaic, some carpets, of course silver... hmmmm kind of sounds like I want a little of everything.

Yay, we're supposed to be getting into our house today!!  Woot-woot!  I think we are all ready for this.  The other night Keenan mentioned in a sad little voice that he would like to have our own house again someday with all of our stuff...  :(  


Mom said...

Loved the pictures. Keep us up on all your adventures.

Laura Olson said...

Wow - great pictures! What a beautiful and interesting place. I love hearing about how you're exploring your new home. :)