Mosaics, Mosques, and Monkeys: May 2024


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okay, that title is a bit of a stretch, but I enjoy the alliteration, so that’s what you get! *Laughs* but we did indeed see all of those things for our next two days in Tunisia (editor’s note: monkeys may have been of the plush variety).

Next we headed off to Sousse, a busy port city. Explored their archeological museum. Totally fell in love with this round-faced Medusa mosaic.

Something so intriguing and appealing about her. Also, the actual museum display is great, as you view her reflection in a mirror!! Not only is that helpful and fun for a floor mosaic, but wonderful in terms of the Medusa story, too.

Also really enjoyed these gossiping tigers! Maybe they’re supposed to be impressive and ferocious (should that be Fur-ocious?), but to me they just look like they’re telling fantastic stories to each other.

And three cheers for headless statues that one can walk behind. *Smile*

Wandered through the Sousse markets. Found some more monkeys , thereby continuing to fulfill the subtitle of this blog. Ha.

Then off to the city of Kairouan, where we experienced some dramatic weather patterns while viewing the outside of the grand mosque

, and wandering the charming twisting alleys.

Lots of decorative doors, and so many cats.

we even were rained upon for a little bit

Met a local artisan who demonstrated his weaving at the loom, and then sort of forced Courtney into participating too. But she was a good sport about it, and didn’t lose any fingers or nothing.

“Now we go to see something you’ve never seen before,” Yassine tells us, as he leads us inside a building and up a flight of stairs. To find a camel. Inside a building on the second story. Attached to an historic but still utilized well system. The camel walks circles around to draw up the water. Definitely wasn’t expecting that! I ask what the camel’s name is. “No, I don’t think he has a name,” says Yassine. But the camel’s owner understood my question and said his name was Kaseem.

(Just had to Google for the spelling. Turns out there are several spelling options, and Arabic meaning is “one who distributes goods” which is a pretty excellent name for a camel, then). A young arabic boy (around 6 or 7) and his mother came up the stairs to see the camel. His eyes got huge. But then he was too shy of us tourists so didn’t want to go any closer. We decided we were done camel viewing, so he could have a turn. 🙂

The next morning was more exploring around Kairouan, in the blazing sunshine.

Then a special visit to the Grand Mosque. Huge, and impressive.

Then on to a mausoleum built in honor of Abu Zomaa al-Balaoui, a companion and barber of Prophet Muhammad. Beautiful building, inside and out. So many gorgeous carvings and tiles. And we were offered a splash of orange blossom water for our hands and head, as a welcome and blessing (and it smelled amazing!)

And this dramatically colored and friendly cat was wandering inside. Demanded, and was given, pets.

Later during our explorations, there was another American visitor with her guide, and she also made friends with the cat (Yassine said he’d never seen a cat inside their before, but this was clearly a well cared for pet who wandered by). In the next room, as we’re seated and being told some history, the cat jumps up and curls onto Courtney’s lap. After a few minutes, that other American walks in. Her guide comes over to us, “Excuse me, but my lady has already claimed that cat.” Ha! There followed several minutes of chuckling debates over who could provide a better cat home “Oh, Seattle will be too cold for this sweetey. He better come live with me in Dallas.” Ha.

And we got to end the afternoon with a relaxing float in our hotel pool

(La Kasbah hotel is built partially within the historic walls. It is lovely!). And then my typical hiding from the sun, under an umbrella and sarong cover. But still enjoying the vibes while reading my book. The staff are super friendly. The man serving hot dishes at the hotel buffet is very friendly and playful. Joking around with us, and ducking for cover behind the counter. Truly delightful. He was happy about my few Arabic phrases, and has been trying to teach me more, which isn’t super successful as I generally need to visually see the words to help learn them. (A hotel buffet is never my choice when traveling, but it’s included in the trip, and food was decent, just not very exciting). Still, it was a lovely place to spend two nights. This trip has been a blast so far! Can’t wait to keep exploring.

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