Getting to Africa

Trip Start Feb 11, 2006
Trip End Feb 20, 2006

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Flag of Tunisia  ,
Monday, February 13, 2006

Friday afternoon Mary, the other American assistant, and I were feeling a bit upset with ourselves because neither of us had made plans for the upcoming two-week vacation. Anna, the German assistant, was heading home (twelve hours by train from where we are in France) to see her boyfriend, but it looked like Mary and I were going to be stuck under the overcast, sullen, and rainy skies of Champagnole. Then suddenly we had an idea, what about one of those online, last-minute-deal trips? We toyed with the idea over lunch, and then having finished scurried over to the computer lounge to begin our search. Thanks to (the Frenchified version of not twenty minutes later we had stumbled upon an eight-day, seven-night all-inclusive excursion to the isle of Zarzis in southern Tunisia. The trip included airfare, airport transport, meals, and our hotel stay all for the equivalent of about $300. Not able to resist the thought of glowing sunlight and foreign adventure, we gave it a green-light.

Having purchased the trip so last-minute, we were anxiously awaiting the confirmation email containing all of our flight and hotel information. Being the smart girls that we are, Mary and I had decided to leave early yesterday afternoon and take a bus into a slightly bigger city not too far from us (Lons le Saunier,) foreseeing that it would be easier to catch a train from there to Lyon, as well as find an internet café to retrieve our confirmation email. After having lunch with my friend Christelle's parents, we checked our email (7:00am departure time) and headed to the gare (train station) to purchase tickets to Lyon (a main city in France with an airport forty minutes outside of the main city.)

During our brief train ride to Lyon from Lons le Saunier I was continually playing phone tag with my parents, aiming to ease their qualms about me taking off to North Africa during Muslim rioting (needless to say I made little to no progress on this front, in spite of my expert communications background.) We arrived in Lyon around 8:00pm last night, checked into a youth hostel, showered, ate a little dinner, and then called it a night...we knew five a.m. was going to come early, and it did.

Bright and early we took Lyon's city metro to the gare (train station,) from there we caught the shuttle to the airport, and eventually we made it through the check-in (slower than molasses ticket agents) and onto our plane. A mere two hours later we were gazing down upon the smoky, brown terrain of Africa! As we began our descent I could feel myself start to smile with anxious excitement to get out of the airplane's stale air and into Tunisia's blue skies and brilliant sun which were glistening through the airplane windows.

Shortly after landing we checked through customs and met up with our tour guide. She led us to our hotel shuttle and then, after all the other group members had arrived, officially welcomed us to Tunisia with a brief description of the area, where our hotel was located, and excursions that would be available to us over the next week.

Though we were achingly tired from our day of traveling, the rush of being on African soil for the first time kept us attentive to the landscape flying by us as we shuttled to our hotel. I was instantly entranced by the beauty of Tunisa; stunted shrubbery intermittently dispersed over larges expanses of clay soil, casually accented by stretching green palm trees and crisp blue and white buildings (homes and shops alike.) Mary and I both knew we were going to fall in love with Tunisia before the week was over.

Upon our arrival at the hotel we were escorted to a lounge area, welcomed with a fruity cocktail, and then shown to our rooms. We lucked out with a room overlooking both the sparkling Mediterranean and a pristine outdoor pool. This evening Mary and I plan to enjoy a nice dinner and then get a good night's rest in prepartion for the long week of sunbathing, dancing, and desert exploring ahead of us!

p.s. today was Mary's birthday, we'll (all five of us who live together) be celebrating the week after we all get back from vacation, but I made her a cute card and sang "Happy Birthday" to her this morning at breakfast...she's 25 year's and counting.
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