May 27, 2008
PORT EL KANTAOUI, Tunisia - I must say that today was the hardest to wake up. Kelsey (Adrian) likes to wake up earlier than I do to make breakfast on time. So, I lay in bed and listened to her yell at me to get up until the last possible minute and still made breakfast on time.
Today, we went on a journey to see one of the oldest mosques in Tunisia. The drive was about 30 minutes, but I didn't mind because everything is so new and different, and I love to take in all of the scenery. It seems like each day there is something to be learned about the people here.
The marketplace we went to was full of people. It felt as if each person had a language of their own. The mosque was in the market. It was interesting to learn about the Muslim religion because it is still very segregated by gender. The females have to pray in a room that is smaller, away from the men who have the larger room. Before anyone prays, they must wash their hands, feet and face to show respect to their god. They must follow five rules: pray five times a day, only one god with a disciple, everyone has to help the poor, observe Ramadan, and I can't remember the last one. Sorry folks.
After we observed this place, we headed to the market. The first shop was a rug store that has actual handmade authentic rugs. We ended up having a nice little display of rugs. The best part was the fact that the cashmere rugs would not light on fire. Literally, the man held a lighter to the rug, and it would not light on fire!
I felt bad because they pulled out all of these rugs, and I think Coach Smith was the only one who bought rugs. After this adventure, we headed out on our own to shop. Oh yeah! The next step was to learn how to haggle with the sellers. Let me tell you LG (Lauren Greif) is the master. Like seriously, it's a sport for her. Anyway, my first experience was buying a mask for my mom. The guy started at 50 and I tried to get him to go lower, but I freaked out and didn't like the bargaining part. I quickly called LG over to the scene, where she talked him down to 25. I guess the way to do it is walk out of the store like you're not interested, and they usually run and bring you back saying, "For you, I'll take the price." We did this process for two hours.
The team bought everything from plates, to jewelry with their names in Hebrew engraved on them to little music makers. We all sat on the bus showing off what we had haggled for what prices. It was a shopping day to be remembered. After this, we had the option of going back to the hotel or heading over to the shopping center we went to last night. LG, Trell, Ash, and Tasha and I headed to the market to look for the guy who had a painting on sale. It was sad and funny because LG was on a mission to buy this painting and the guy was not there. We ended up concluding he only sells on Monday nights to make her feel better. It was now time to nap before our first game.
Again, it was hard to wake up from our nap. Again, Kelsey lay yelling at me, and I made the bus on time. The gym we played at was awesome. It was next to the beach and seemed like it took up the whole city. It was so big. The locker rooms were nicer then some of the gyms we played in this year! The game was awesome! It was so neat to play with different refs and rules. The major difference was the physical part of them game. It was like playing a football game. It took us a couple of bumps here and there to adjust and finally play some ball.
I must say the quote of the game was when LG told the ref that she was fouled and the ref said, "I don't understand sorry." We were all laughing and then knew what we were in for. We ended up playing well for our first game and definitely have room for improvement tomorrow. We won by a lot. I forgot the score, but I'm sure you guys can look it up. After the game, we went back into this room where they served us drinks and snacks. The best part was the conversations we had with the girls. I met Nedar and a couple other girls, and we had conversations about how we like their country, how to speak some of their language and how old they were. The ages ranged from 16 to 28. This was literally a life-changing experience to be able to speak to someone who lives in a totally different country than you really opens your eyes to another world. Like Aladdin says, "a whole new world."
These girls spoke four different languages - English, Arabic, Italian and French. How insane is that?! It was just overwhelming on how enthralled they were with us Americans. It was great to be able to connect with other cultures and ethnicities and compare lifestyles. I look forward to tomorrow's game and to get their email addresses so we can keep in contact with them.