Natalia and her son in Tunis.
As I sat in the Embassy listening to the rocks and chants hitting the wall outside, I couldn’t help but feel as though my maternal instincts had failed me. Why didn’t I know to leave? Why did I stand on the second floor, flippantly observing the gathering crowds, and assume it would just be your standard protest? Shouldn’t I have had some sixth sense, some feeling in my gut that things were going to go from bad to worse?
I knew that the baby was far from danger, picked up by family friends from his daycare miles from the Embassy. The staff had in fact been quite at a loss to understand why I couldn’t pick him up at 2pm. “Protests you say?”
The events of September 14th at the U.S Embassy in Tunis took many people by surprise. Not least of which the Tunisians who were even more taken aback when the order was given to evacuate all non-essential Embassy personnel and all families. (more…)
Photo by Elizabeth Atalay
It was too hot for October as I pushed the baby’s stroller towards the busy intersection, nervous about navigating the after school traffic.
As I approached the T junction, I could see a woman striking her arms out wildly from the driver’s seat of her car, stopped at the red light. She looked as though she was battling someone in the passenger seat with all the strength the confined space would allow.
I had been reading and thinking a lot about women and women’s rights in Morocco since my arrival a couple of weeks prior and in the split second it took me to walk from the trunk to beside the window, I had concluded she was an abused wife, fighting back.
Prone as I am to flights of fancy, I had her whole heroic back story firm in my mind as I walked level to the front window and realized that she was in fact landing punches on a boy; about 12 or 13 and looking utterly deflated as he half-heartedly held his arms up against his mother’s blows. (more…)
Tunis: 1st impressions….hot, beautiful, ancient….and dirty.
Between the bustle of the Medina, the rocky remains of Carthage and the white-washed walls and crisp blue sea views of Sidi Bou Sa’id lie fields, highway divides and alleyways of litter.
While the omnipresence of trash and it’s accompanying odor, flies and wild dogs are something you quickly become accustomed to and learn to look past, it is hard not to think about how much more lovely this city could be without it.
Why, I asked myself, can people not find a better way to get rid of their trash? Don’t they care about their city? An editorial in a local French language paper echoed my thoughts and reported the shame of having to apologize to visitors for the state of their public spaces; asking them to look past the litter to find the beauty of their country.
As a scrupulous sorter of my trash, compost and recycling back home, it was a shock to the system to see all manner of glass, plastic, paper and vegetation strewn willy-nilly along the road leading up to our beautifully maintained and manicured Embassy home. I reduce, reuse and recycle! I care about the the future of the planet my kids will inherit! I could never do such a thing…
And then it came time to dispose of our own garbage. (more…)
Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
Right now I live in Port Washington, New York but the clock is ticking. Starting in August, I will be living in (and blogging from) Tunis, the capital of Tunisia.
Where I am from is a more complicated question. I am a cultural mutt (Father Irish, Mother Peruvian) and global nomad, having been raised in the UK, Spain and Ireland and having accompanied my hubby to Japan. But my longest stint anywhere has been Long Island, New York (where I suffered through to high school). I think that’s enough to claim a place as home right?
What language(s) do you speak?
French and Spanish well. Japanese and German pitifully. Have delusions of learning Arabic. (more…)
On Monday meet us in the Middle East, where we’ll go to Tel-Aviv, Israel to talk about different thoughts on, as Susie calls it, “bad mothering.” Susie felt conflicted about going on a brief vacation and seeing her grown son in the hospital for an ear infection. Are there times when you felt like a bad mother, but knew that you had to choose to do something for yourself?
On Tuesday, we’re off to Asia, where we meet up with Ms. V, our resident yogi, in South Korea. Her post is titled, “Raising the F Word”, and in it she’s hot on the topic of feminism and teaching it to our daughters and sons. And why being a feminist is so important to her. This is one for the Human Rights column!
On Wednesday, meet us in Capetown, South Africa! Mamma Simona discusses the stereotypes surrounding a “Mama’s Boy” and a “Daddy’s Girl”. Her children have broke the molds! Would you say that your child connects more with you, or your partner?