August 27, 2007
Harvard Square Observer

Tunisia on My Mind - Part 2

Ernest Cassara

I ended last week’s installment of this commentary by promising to tell you of the wedding celebration of our daughter Catherine.  As you recall, my wife and I were housed with the family of the groom’s sister in Jendouba.  The wedding celebration was held up over the mountains at Tabarka on the Mediterranean coast. 

Since some arrangements had to be made at the particular hotel a couple of days before the event, my wife and I were invited to go along for the ride.  Over the mountains we went, driving for an hour or more.  Beautiful scenery, but, many hairpin turns.

The road was well paved, and, I could tell was used a great deal, for, every few miles, a gentleman would step out and hold up a plastic bag of nuts.  (We were told they were almonds.)  Also, periodically, we would pass a display of wood carvings for sale, mostly of animals.

But, I wondered how wedding guests were to drive over the mountains to Tabarka in daylight, and return to Jendouba and Hakim in the dark.  I must have been mumbling about this at one point, for someone assured me that guests at the wedding would be staying over in the same hotel where the event was to be held.

This particular watering hole proved to be very popular, for, as we entered the community, I could see that a few more hotels were under construction.

At the hotel we put up at, we could look down from our room on a courtyard with a swimming pool, a bandstand, and many tables for refreshments.  We invited our driver, our new step granddaughter (a lovely teenager, who, I was told would move to the U.S. once she had finished high school), and a female cousin of the groom, who had come along for the ride, to join us for lunch.

When the day of the wedding celebration arrived, over the mountains we were driven again. 

The celebration was a lovely event.  They even provided the mother and father of the bride with special gowns. The widowed mother of the groom was dressed in her usual gown and head scarf.  We sat in a circle around what I can only call a throne, where the bride and groom were seated, she in a lovely white gown, he in a tuxedo.

The guests were entertained with music by a band, which allowed for a number of exhibitionists - no! I was not among them! - including middle-aged men, to dance in front of the bride and groom.  After this clowning around, the rest of us climbed to the throne to embrace the bride and shake hands with the groom, and pose for photos.  Copies of the pictures have not arrived on this side of the water as yet, so I cannot report on how lovely we all looked.

It occurs to me to add that we have a picture of the bride signing a large book.  We think this is the equivalent of going to the town clerk in a U.S. town and arranging for a civil marriage.


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