May 28, 2008
PORT KANTAOUI, Tunisia -
Cal director of operations Sarah Holsinger will be blogging daily from Africa.
So, today is "hump day" on our trip, and ironically the first thing we did was ride dromedaries, a one humped camel. We left our hotel at 10 a.m. and drove to the town Medhia, where 22 dromedaries awaited us. I don't know if they have ever had 6-5 passengers, but they seemed to hold up pretty well.
We named some of them Freddie, Harry, Bruce, Clarence and Lil Stevie. Seeing Coach Morrison pull up the rear of our camel caravan was quite entertaining. Devanei shrieked every time her camel made a sudden movement. I bet opposing post players wish they could evoke such fear.
Our journey went out about a half a mile where we stopped at the owner's home, which resembled a fortress. Here we met a local woman who taught us a "good morning" chant. After the chant, we all lined up in front of their camel, which was inside their home, and each of us was given a piece of cactus. We placed the cactus between our teeth and most of us were brave enough to feed the camel face to face. For some, not naming any names (Lexi and Ashley), it was just too close for comfort. We then headed back to our camels and rode back to our starting point.
When we arrived back at our hotel, some of us lounged by the pool. However, this only lasted about an hour before the sky turned grey and the thunderstorms began. It rained heavily for about two hours, and we were told that we brought the San Francisco weather here because it hardly rains in Tunisia.
We left the hotel again at 315 p.m. and went back to Monastir where we put on an hour clinic for a group of young boys. We had four stations (shooting, dribbling, passing and defense). We split them into two groups, rotating stations about every 15 minutes. The boys were probably between the ages of eight and 12. They were very gracious, and at the end of the clinic, we gave them Nike socks because Nike items are very expensive and hard to find in Tunisia and Cal media guides.
After the clinic, we played our second game against the Tunisia National team. We got off to a slow start, but we ended up winning 74-56. Lexi had an astounding night from behind the three-point line. She hit seven and finished with 30 points. Everyone played, and it was a great team effort. Check out the recap on CalBears.com.
I forgot to mention last night about a few differences in the Tunisian arena compared to Haas Pavilion. First, the fans are allowed to smoke inside while the game is going on. This makes for an interesting environment in a non-air conditioned gym. Also in the arena, the men and the women do not sit together. Unless you are married, you must sit apart. The majority of the crowds at both of our games were men. After the game, we headed back to our resort for our last dinner in Tunisia.
We then had a special show, just for our team and the Tunisia National team staff at 10:30p.m. This show was by far the best we have seen. It started with a Tunisian man who laid on nails and swords while Lexi, Jessica and Tamilyn (our two team managers) stood on his back. He put himself under a guillotine that when dropped fell just below his rib cage. Two of his assistants held Dr. Dixit (our team physician) up in the air by his feet while his hands and weight rested on top of the blade. The man underneath demanded that Dr. Dixit do pushups. I wish you could have seen our faces. It was truly unbelievable the amount of mental toughness and physical strength this man possessed.
The next performer wowed us with his snake charming ability and his pet monkey Jack. He flung his cobra around the stage and about half of the team ran screaming out of the room. Our photographer, Mollie, was on top of some chairs over 20-feet from the stage. Needless to say, this was not the highlight of some of our day. Jack (the monkey) followed the cobra and quickly calmed the room down. Jack really didn't have much of a purpose in the show other than looking cute. He did sit on everyone's shoulders for a few seconds for some photos. Along his journey around the room, he did leave one lasting impression on the back of trainer Ann Caslin. It was warm and wet, and I'll leave the rest up to your imagination.
And, so ends our journey in Tunisia. What a wonderful first five days it has been. It's truly been a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'm very thankful for the experience we have had here. Next stop Senegal. Wake up call 6 a.m. Go Bears!