Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Not so new information-June 5

Here's something I wrote on June 5 but couldn't post.
Leila is going through a very interesting linguistic time. She’s learning the form of tag questions, but she hasn’t quite learned how or when to use them. For example, she’ll say: I have to eat now, do I. Not only do we not use tag questions when referring to ourselves, generally, the tag for a positive statement should be negative. Another one she says is “I’m hungry, mam I.” When she’s saying an affirmation she says “I mam.”
At other times she’ll turn to me and get a very serious teacher look on her face and gravely say a nonsense word that I will then have to repeat exactly. This will go on for several words till she tires of the game. I asked her what language it was and she said Arabic. I think she’s trying to teach it to me, as I and others try to teach her words.
Ali has begun beckoning with upturned fingers and clicking. He did this to the dog this morning, and he’ll do it to things he wants as well. He’s very demanding if he wants something. Last night we were having fruit salad with ice cream when Habib and his wife and son came over. Ali got so mad that he didn’t have some. Later he insisted on eating some of the cake they brought. This morning he was hitting me in the face and laughing. I was telling him to stop which he thought was hilarious. He also likes hitting hands that are held out to him and he says “tate” or something which means something in Arabic. He’s very observant and copies what people around him are doing. When he eats, he likes to hold at least one spoon, sometimes two in his hands. He really wants to start feeding himself. I’ll have to let him when we’re back home and he has a high chair. Here he’s eating everything in sight. Tante Asia cooks him special food, but then he also wants what we’re eating. He eats and eats and eats, much more than Leila. What he loves is anything he can feed himself, like a banana (he’ll eat the whole thing after eating a whole meal) or a whole peach, pealed of course.
Yesterday we left the kids and went off to Kairoaun. They went to an end of the year performance/party at the girls’ cousin’s preschool. However, Leila also did some naughty things when she got back, like putting crème in her hair.
We had a great time. H drove his nephew’s truck, so I got to sit up front. The road is beautiful- through wheat fields with flocks of sheep grazing beside it. We were driving toward the mountains and the blue sky was fluffed with clouds. Once in town we dropped of Toafik’s load of curtain rings. H and I took a stroll down an interesting street, photographing doors and children who requested we take their pictures. We ended up at the old city wall and ventured in just a little ways. We were standing beside a small room where two women were embroidering tablecloths and H talked to them of course. Everyone we saw in that area was very friendly. As we left the old city to return to the car we smelled bread and asked where the bakery was. Just around the corner we found the baker pulling loaves fresh from the oven as another oven was being heated with a blow torch. The ovens are the brick cave type. The bread seller at the door was kind enough to let me snap some photos. As we left the bakery, Taofik and Mohammed pulled up and we went off to this wonderful hotel called La Kasbah, set into the old city wall. You walk through the lobby and come to a patio with a swimming pool surrounded by the hotel and the city wall. It was very oasis like. Then we went to the cisterns that were built a thousand years ago and finally to the tomb of the prophet’s barber. As we walked in, an administrator walked over to us and said no tourists were allowed, but H said we weren’t tourists. I think that has happened to us there before- they didn’t want to let me in the last time, but H said I was his wife. This time the courtyard at the back was full of people and musicians. There were several wedding going on, and in this town the tradition seems to be to get married at this tomb. The last time we’d seen a circumcision party gathering there. H tried to get me to ask the bride to take her picture, but I was shy. I should have, because it’s okay in this culture. Then H asked this little old man who is the caretaker if we could go up in the minaret tower. He had to first work his way through the crowds to find an administrator and ask permission, and then he led us over to a little door opposite the tower. We climbed some stairs and came out on the roof. He allowed me to take his photo, and then he lead us all over the roof above all the different courtyards. It was wonderful- equal to getting into the closed Carthage ruins one night and viewing it by moonlight. (Until one of the caretakers turned on the lights and decided to give us a tour- That was on my first trip to Tunis.)
We came home via Monastir so that H’s nephew could get some “medicine.” (beer). H drove us to the sea where the boats and the cliffs and the setting sun lead to another round of pic snapping- me with the F-100 and he with the digital.
Today I’ve spent the morning trying to recover from the migraine that started on the way to Karouine yesterday. I took a Relpax this morning and it made me feel awful- rather like a mushroom trip without the hallucinogenic factor. (Not that I’ve had a lot of experience with that.) H had disappeared and I couldn’t relax because of the kids. Now I’m fine though.

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