Me and Shabnam! The only photo where I look tall.
We arrived at about 4 in the morning. The Tunis airport reminded me of Cairo's, old and a bit hectic. Every one of my thirty group members received their luggage at the baggage center, which we were told was Allah's work at hand by our Arabic tutor. We raced to a bus and made our way to Rue Habib Bourgiba to the Hotel Carleton. The Tunis airport is very close to the city center, about 15 minutes away (like Vegas, but this is the only way that Tunis is like Vegas). We made it to the Hotel and dragged our heavy luggage up the stairs. I was thirtsy as hell so I bought some bottled water downstairs at the lobby. It was a bizzare brand and had a funny lid, but I trusted it and drank up. The room was small but clean with great air conditioning, I do recommend the hotel.
Outside of CEMAT - typical Tunis (blue shutters)
I was still feeling the fact the we had been traveling for so many hours so I couldn't sleep. I took a sleeping pill at 5AM or so and, despite an alarm, woke up at 230PM. This was just enough time to walk down to the famous clock tower and consider eating. I had lost my appetite. At five we made our first trip to CEMAT - Centre d'Etudes Maghrebiene a Tunis. We had some famous mint tea (amazing!) and discussed our program. After we wandered to the Medina to a second floor restraunt with a beautiful view. We had brique, fried salad, cous cous, and a fancied up popsicle. Brique is a thin piece of something (filo dough maybe) that has an egg cracked into it, and then is deep friend. The egg whites are mostly cooked but you have to suck out the yolk.
Fried salad is literally balled up salad with lots of peppers and olives that are fried and then the outer layer is peeled off. It looks like a pile of black/gray crap with a little bit of tuna on top. I ate very little of each of these things. I enjoyed talked to some of my group members, but we were all still exhausted from a long journey. Towards the end of our meal I got up to use the restroom and left my purse on the ground. On my way to the restroom I noticed that the waiter was following me. He told me that I was beautiful and wanted to show me around Tunis and that he would be a great special friend. He tried to give me his number three times, until I decided that I didn't have to go to the bathroom THAT badly and ran back to my group - who had left without me!!!! I grabbed me purse and went running down the marble stairs, but in my jet-lag haze/high heels I fell really hard on my butt. I started to panic. I had no idea how to get back to the hotel. As I ran in a direction I thought might be correct I saw the back of the head of one of my peers and picked up the pace. I tried to unpack, read, anything to pass the time until I would be tired (waking up at 230 PM does throw off your sleeping schedule). My roommate had collapsed upon returning to the room, so I took another sleep pill and tried to fight the anxiety. Four hours later I started getting sick. I knew from then on that it was serious.