Why I Like Living in North Africa

I’ve been going a little crazy being cut off from the internet.  I can only get it at work, which is closed today, and the two times I used a computer there I was hurried off to meetings before I could properly respond to emails.  Today is Sunday and I had plenty of free time, so I set out to the souk to search for one of those internet flash drives that I have only heard about but have never actually seen.  The first person I asked was the man who sold me cucumbers.  I knew he would be friendly because he did not laugh at me for not understanding how Tunisian Dinars work.  However, I quickly realized that he did not speak French.  But no worries!  Within minutes, another man and a woman were also standing at my side, asking what I was looking for.  Describing the internet flash drive in French took quite a while, particularly because I don’t know what they’re really called in any language, and as I said, I’ve never seen one.  After a bit of searching, the woman understood what I wanted but said that the store I needed, Orange, was closed on Sundays.  However, it wasn’t a total failure; she gave me her phone number and told me to call her the next day so she could take me to the store and help me out.  I’m not sure who she was, what she does all day, or why she is apparently always at my service, but I’m happy to know that I live in a place where people are ready to help.  This definitely has a downside too; just as people are willing to help a stranger and give out a phone number, there are always men at the ready, waiting for a woman to call out to or to follow around for a few minutes.  Both of these situations would be very unlikely to happen in the U.S.  I could do without the catcalls (although I don’t think ‘how are you? French? English?’ or ‘ooh, spice girls!’ are particularly threatening catcalls) but the opportunity to speak to strangers and find people who are willing to help just out of their own generosity is a wonderful aspect of North African life.Image

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