Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tea in Tunisia

We were invited to go for tea with some new friends we met here in Tunisia. Ali is a native Tunisian who is married to Arlette who is from France. They wanted to show us the real Tunisia since the area we have been keeping Toboggan is very touristy. We squeezed into their 30 year old Citroen and headed off on an road trip.
As we drove north-west of Sousse, we passed olive groves that went on forever almost at the exclusion of all other crops. We passed several salt lakes where the salt water was piped in over low lying land and left to evaporate leaving salt. The lakes were full of migrating flamingos which was a beautiful site but it made me wonder about what else might be mixed in with the salt, if you know what I mean.
We drove into the foot hills of the Atlas mountain range that runs through Tunisia and Algeria and we eventually came upon an old Berber village that was set upon the top of a hill. Most of the inhabitants had left the village years ago and moved down into the valley where there is water and electricity but some had stayed behind for whatever reason. One such lady had set up a tea room in hopes of attracting tourists to the area.
The tea room was set in an ancient Berber home with thick stone walls and typical vaulted ceiling which is designed to keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. The patio overlooked the village below and the olive groves in the distance. We sat and sipped tea with mint and pine nuts and eventually watched the sun set before heading back to Toboggan for the night.

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