There’s no doubt about it… things just have a different feel on an island.
After years living in Fes, Morocco, I still find myself marveling at the significant differences between life there then and here now on the island of Djerba. Even as I walked to the office this afternoon I couldn’t help myself from comparing and contrasting the two North African places we have called ‘home’ over the past five years…A favourite island cafe… a fantastic Djerbese experience!
Certainly in the ancient cities of this amazing part of the world I wouldn’t have my sandals filling with dust and sand as I walk along the side streets! I love being so close to nature so I really don’t mind at all. I smile as a middle-aged man cycles by me, loaves of fresh baguettes in arms, the classic narrow-brimmed straw hat shielding his weathered skin from the ever-shining sun. He slowly pedals home for lunch… no rush at all, while a group of young people saunter by clad in shorts and casual tops, chatting as the light island breeze is just enough to ruffle the date palms, lift a few littered bags into the air and keep everyone from feeling like we’re roasting alive in the hot sun. The sea would feel good today and Djerbese people are proud of their fantastic coastline… turquoise waters rolling up onto white sand beaches. The perfect place to enjoy beauty and cool down.
Cities, by contrast, are naturally much busier places… the energy of the marketplaces and pace of live lend themselves to a very different North African experience. Regardless of their actual economic situation, men are often dressed to the nines, sporting perfectly polished Italian sportwear to compliment their classy attire. Women too have a very different set of clothing for going out and it’s often worth pausing to admire the way they’ve coordinated all the pieces of their modest and beautiful ensembles. Upscale cafes can make one wonder which side of the Mediterranean they are on and French-imported goods are readily available at small shops or modern supermarkets.
It’s a world of contrasts and it’s wonderful to get a chance to taste them all! I would highly recommend spending time taking in both the rural and more urban settings of North Africa… truly a safari of the senses!