The world through the eyes of a friend “Sidi Bou Said”
By: Hatem Dhwibi
I have been in the United States for more than 8 months now, the hands of time are running side to side with age and I’m trying to catch up. I have been drowned in the tragedies of life that almost made me forget who I am. I have been pushed to temporary give up a variety of likes including travelling and writing which are my number one passion and my eternal reliefs, I barely could find time to catch my breaths. Came ‘Ramadan’, and the weight became heavier. I was already feeling ashamed with myself and I wasn’t ready for a shame with God so I’m fasting. Many days I couldn’t even find food to eat after 15 hours of fasting, other times I couldn’t find time to eat, I work in a store from 10 pm to 6 am, while fasting is from 5 am to 8:30 pm. I am so thankful for the patience God gave me. I am also grateful for my family, happy with the faithful friends I have, and the new friends I made, those who can never have a replacement. The list of friends to thank is long, from all around Tunisia to all around the world.
Only God knows how much they mean to me. Because of them, I live life in many different places from one place. I see life through the eyes of my friends, and I share these lives with papers and pens.
Anis Ben Amor, a friend of mine. He is a certified touristic guide. He was recently assigned to welcome a group of Tourists from China who came to smell the scents of Tunisia and guide them throughout the different states in order for them to know about culture and enjoy sightseeing.
From the international airport Tunis-Carthage the adventure had started. Anis kept me informed of where they go. As they were already in the capital Tunis, the first destination was ‘Sidi Bou Said’. I already wrote about that blue and white small village but I would love to tell about it again.
‘Sidi Bou Said’ is built on top of a mountain which used to be called ‘the mountain of ‘Al-Marsa’. It used to be a small village, a fort, used as an observation point to protect the Phoenician Carthage from naval invasions.
Was and still a place for meditation, Sidi Bou Said was named in 1893 after the righteous man Abou Said Albajji who used to, after finishing his role in monitoring, sit in the lighthouse facing the mediterranean sea and the surrounding bay, for meditation, praying and spiritual exercises. A kind of feature that made the chinese have some sense of belonging. They gathered themselves on the highest point of the village and sat for meditation while Anis had no idea what they were doing, so he went to sip his café in the ‘café des nattes’, waiting for them to get done.
From meditation came the idea of painting the city with white and blue, the colors that reflect the purity of the soul and the depth of the skies.
With pure souls, the chinese group was taken to visit the palace of ‘Ennejma Ezzahra’, the sparkling star (l’étoile replendissante), which is commonly known as “the baron’s house” (la maison du baron), built by the French painter and musicologist baron Radolphe d’Erlanger as his home between 1909 and 1921. A model of creativity. A palace at the hinge of all styles bequeathed by the Arab civilization and the beginnings of European Decorative Art. A magic arises from the way they hug and respond to each other so much that one does not know where one is exactly. The house was sold to the Tunisian government by the baroness Edwina d’Erlanger with many of its original furnishing including some of the baron’s paintings and a treasure-chest which is believed to be once owned by Suleiman the Magnificent.
A lot for someone to do in a small village like Sidi Bou Said. If it wasn’t for time, someone would just sit there all day long facing the ocean, but there’s a plenty of other places to go. There is a sunset to watch in Hammamet. People from around the world come for that.