Travel, Tunisia
Comments 73

on a Tunisian souk

There are people who claim value in high art: ballet, opera, the finest works of most-lauded authors.

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I agree, I do agree, that’s all important.

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But if you ask me about poetry in motion, about where to find the art of life manifested,

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I’ll point you towards the markets, the wilds of a city, like the souk of downtown Tunis.

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You only know a place once you’ve learned its rugged streets, its funky corners,

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the beauty it hides in small bites and in plain sight.

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You know a place once you’ve engaged its most forthright ambassadors, its most plenipotentiary negotiators: market vendors.

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You know a place when you’ve breathed it in, whatever olfactory sensations that affords you!

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You come to know a place through the rhythm of footsteps on its pavement,

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when the many aspects of culture, climate and locale culminate to produce a throbbing, artful chaos.

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Greetings knock about as people slip past each other effortlessly,

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and the sacred in the ordinary is evident, and unremarkable,

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and breathtaking, all at once.

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73 Comments

  1. Such a beautiful post! Your post took me back home and I could almost smell the streets, the leather, the rain and all that “throbbing, artful chaos”.
    Thanks a lot!
    By the way, how long did you stay in Tunis? Did you visit any other cities?

    Liked by 8 people

    • Thanks to you for your comment! What I’ve seen of Tunisia over the last 7 years is incomparable – I will live there one day, I’ve promised myself! I’ve visited only areas around Tunis for a week or two at a time, like La Marsa, Sidibou, Bizerte, and it’s been my great fortune to stay and get around with very dear Tunisian friends. I’ll make it farther next time! Mashallah quel beau pays, and the food is incredible. I’ll post more photos over the next week or so! Thanks again! My best to you and hope you make it home again soon!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Its such a fantastic and colourful​ post… I just loved it. The city views are so beautiful. It was a pretty interesting article. Beautifully​ described as well. Enjoyed the read.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Siddhant. Much like there are dilapidated and beautiful areas of the US or Europe, there are beautiful and dilapidated areas of Tunisia and other North African countries. It’s good to get to know places before judging them. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 3 people

        • I do, after 6 or 7 years of study! It’s not an easy one, but it’s worth it — and you can travel widely with the basics. Keep at it! Aside from the usual literature (Le Petit Prince, bien sur!) I’d suggest watching (and re-watching, and re-watching) current French YouTube stars, like this guy, who’s pretty funny: https://www.youtube.com/user/NormanFaitDesVideos – check out his older vlogs done in his apartment, they’re clever and fun and he’s quite emotive, which helps with comprehension. There’s another comedy couple as well out there… if I can remember the name I’ll get back to you!

          Liked by 2 people

  3. I love how you depict artistry not only from the works of the people but from the people themselves and everything that surrounds them. Such an incredibly vivid and poignant post. Loved it! ❤️😊

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Mike Ballard says

    Beautiful and moving, in both word and image. We will be traveling to Algiers and Tunis next year. Your post will be very present in our minds as we do so.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I wish you a beautiful trip! Tunis is one of my absolute favorites, and Algeria is on my bucket list. One of my favorite films is “What the Day Owes the Night” (“Ce que le jour doit a la nuit” 2012) – a beautiful story about coming of age in colonial Algeria. My best to you in your travels!

      Like

  5. Pingback: On a Tunisian Souk | Jack Brown

    • Thanks! Your blog features great political cartoons. I encourage you to consider the politics of Somaliland, which has been a de facto nation (it’s own currency, government, military, etc.) for 25 years yet cannot achieve international recognition for various reasons. It’s a fascinating case study! Best of luck with you blog!

      Like

      • Dude, I would surely do that in my upcoming posts. Let me just settle myself here on WordPress. If you can just help me grab some followers, I will be extremely thankful to you. Plz plz plz

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks very much! I am fortunate that some of my dearest friends are Tunisian and showed me around, but I do believe it’s a place women can comfortably travel alone. And it’s so, so worth it – lots of posts here about Tunisia, so if you end up planning a trip, get in touch and we can talk further! THANK YOU for showing up to the women’s march in Jan – was tough to watch from overseas without being able to make it back to DC. And congrats on maybe the cleverest blog title, ever, hehe!

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  6. Oh… thank you… thank you for taking me back there. When I visited Tunis and the nearby towns, I was hit by a different world. The architecture was amazing, the streets fascinating, the people so intriguing! The street markets were so colorful, so vibrant!

    Beautiful pictures!

    I firmly agree with the fact that art is present in some mundane, everyday things. However, it can be difficult to see if we’re living it day in and day out. You appreciate the beauty more if you’re an outsider, who sees something new and is appreciative of the difference.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s a stunning place, agreed! Couldn’t agree more re: art in the mundane; I think that’s where the magic happens. Wishing you an opportunity to travel back to Tunisia sometime soon! Actually, wishing that for us both, hehe!

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  7. I completely agree! There’s nothing like markets to immerse you in the culture, the behavior, and the true colors of a new place. They’re not “polished” or “glossed” by travel publications. And so you experience the people for who they are, the food for what the locals know them to be, and the wares for what they’re made to do – not what they’re made to represent in boutiques or fancy shops. I love markets, and I really love how you’ve captured this one. Thank you for taking me to Tunisia 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow!! What a post. I could only imagine what you must be thinking while taking/selecting these pictures. The moment you wrote ” I’ll will point you towards market”….rest of the blog was narrated by pictures. I really loved this form of expression.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, that’s very kind. It’s a challenge and great fun to take photos in a place like a souk, where opportunities to capture images are everywhere, and you only have so much time! Best wishes to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Gorgeous, earthy photographs enriched by words from the heart. Makes me want to wander through the jumbled streets and investigate a busy market now, before lunch.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m so sad that none of your photos have appeared on my screen and so many people have commented that they are beautiful!
    I dream of visiting Tunisia, as I have been to Morocco several times and loved it. I imagine Tunisia as similar in some ways?
    I teach Spanish in southern Spanish to mainly English ex-patriates . I’m lucky enough to be relatively close to North Africa.
    I also need to brush up on my French!
    Regards. Marie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi marieryan, and thanks for your comment! I hope you manage to get the photos to load! I think Tunisia is similar to Morocco in some ways, as part of North Africa, but I think quite unique for the most part in terms of geopolitics, history, and certainly cuisine! Fantastic that you’re in Spain – I’ve only been to Barcelona, must go back for more! I highly suggest Tunisia for your next adventure – a stunning place, and they’ll be pleased to encourage your French! My best to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for encouraging message, Erin.
        Barcelona is certainly a vibrant city, lovely!
        I broke my wrist a few weeks ago so I have no travel plans at the moment…but I think Tunisia may be a lovely idea …
        Regards.Marie

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: 10 Cool Things About Living in Hargeisa | outerNotes

  12. Lovely post! I lived in Tunis for part of my development years. Your post – especially the pictures – brought back many lovely memories of my trips to souks, especially when family members were in town. Thanks for sharing it and thus making me take a trip down memory lane! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Oluwakemi, good to hear from you! I hope to live in Tunis one day, and invite family as well. What a beautiful place. The photos on your blog look sensational — Will have a better look soon!

      Like

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