A taste of home…

January 22, 2009 in Africa, Travelogue, Tunisia

Storms raged over our corner of the Med last night. Thunder broke in waves over the beach and lightening flashed, revealing black and white tableaus of bent palm trees and slanted rain. We dreamt of ship wreck and high tides. I am dreading riding out the night on those waves next week as we steam steadily toward France.

Our three months in Africa has passed alarmingly fast. It seems like just last week that we were first braving the colorful whirlwind of the souq and pulling pillows over our heads with a groan at 4:30 a.m. as the muezzin called the faithful to prayer. We’re now quite comfortable here, which is the first sign that it is time to move on. The washing and sorting and packing has begun in earnest. The children are looking through the enormous pile of books that they were sent (about sixty, I’d say) and choosing their favorites to carry along in handle bar bags. The rest will be lovingly donated to their new friend Josh, who lives in the Ivory Coast, but who’s family will soon be moving here to take the place of the retiring British pastor who’s become our friend. As hard as English children’s books are to come by, the children are hoping he’ll find as much joy in this precious stash as they have this winter. We are all looking forward to various aspects of France. Tony and I will revel in the availability of pork and wine. The children are eager to have European cheeses and breakfast cereal again. Ezra is fairly beside himself with excitement over the possibility of seeing the Eiffel Tower. I don’t know where he learned of it, or when he became so infatuated with it, but for months and months now he’s been asking when he can climb it. He knows it’s in France, so I’m sure it will be the first thing he asks to see when we step off of the boat… in Marseille… not Paris.

Our arrival back in Europe also marks “the beginning of the end” in some ways. It will be only eight short weeks before we find ourselves winging our way toward the east coast and a new adventure in camper life. We are eagerly making plans and the children are excitedly chattering about all of the things they’ve just remembered that they miss most.

Ezra came to find me at about twelve thirty yesterday afternoon. “I’m hungry Mom. My belly is rumbly. Can we eat?” “Sure… what do you want for lunch?” I asked him. He looked up at the ceiling light, with only one bulb burning and said, somewhat wistfully: “Peanut butter. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches… sigh… but they don’t have that here. We haven’t had that in just forever.” He said it. He finally said it. The statement I’ve been waiting ten months to hear: “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.” He trudged out of the bedroom with my assurance that I’d be right out to the kitchen and he could help me make lunch. I flew to the closet and began rifling through the bags. It was here somewhere… but WHERE had I stashed it?
I assure you that you’ve never heard such hooting and whooping and joyous applause over peanut butter as we had in our kitchen before lunch yesterday. I was pronounced “wonderful, sneaky and GREAT” for having hidden a small jar of peanut butter in the bottom of a pannier last March before we left home. I’ve been carrying it as “spare provisions,” knowing that eventually we’d use it to lift spirits and remember the best things about American childhood. They ate half of the jar with local strawberry jelly (strawberry leaves sprinkled liberally throughout the fruit preserves) on the ultra-cheap local baguettes… not exactly Welches Jam on Wonder Bread, but for American children in North Africa, it was heaven!