Happy Birthday to Moi

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I am celebrating my 50th birthday this weekend.  My birthday is March 4th and if you know me, you have been subjected to my witty little mnemonic about marching forth on March fourth (like into spring, usually) although this time, I’m pretty much marching forth into the second century of my life, assuming I get one.  I’m not going to write, however, about how I feel about turning 50 because I don’t know yet how I feel.  In short, I’m nervous, but hopeful.
            But a midcentury birthday requires some intention and I chose to spend the night at an iconic, midcentury hotel just blocks up the hill from our house called Villa Didon (The annotation on the above picture shows where our house is from the hotel.)  This is a boutique hotel built in the 1950s, brilliantly situated at the top of Carthage hill and also practically on the grounds of the Carthage archaeological center.  There are only 10 rooms, all facing the water, and we were on the end so our room had two balconies, one facing the Punic Ports and the other looking at the Carthage ruins.  

            The interior is clean, white spaces broken up by oversized glass doors offering views at every turn of water, or tree canopies, or ruins.  The interior decoration is modern, softened by some handcrafted touches like the twig chandeliers in the downstairs lounge or the framed violet petals in our room.  
            We like to have new adventures so we agreed to have a hamam bath at the spa.  We were led into a steamy, dimly lit, stone catacomb (right, we’re not wearing our clothes) and first sat on the edge of a little tub, 2 cubic feet (not the one pictured).  I think this is a prewashing station, but since I had showered, literally 1 hour previously, I just kind of soaked my feet.  Then, a muscular woman called us to a stone platform one at a time and gave us a scrubbing with a big, soapy Brillo pad.  I have seen big cotton mitts and a huge variety of dried flowers, herbs, and salts for sale in the markets that I assumed were for this purpose so I romanticized we would make some choices about the scrub concoction, but the plastic scouring mitt and whatever the soap in the bottle was did the job.    I have had exfoliating scrubs before so I found it a little invigorating.  Allan didn’t think he would do it again.  Many of our Tunisian, particularly women, friends do this once a week.  Maybe they don’t do so much bathing at home and then on Friday, after work, they go to the hamam for a proper scrubbing and then right off to the hairdresser for a wash and blow dry.  They kind of coax that look along for the rest of the week.  I get it.  It wouldn’t work for me, but it’s a cool ritual.
            There are some elements of the customer experience that I would love to work with the hotel on.  Several of the dishes in the restaurant had a slightly watery base, the whole spa experience could be more sensory, the staff forgets things, like breakfast.  It starts Allan and me talking, wouldn’t it be interesting to own this place and manage it really well and then we say, “Nah.”  We’ll just enjoy it for what it is and it’s a gem.

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Moi

  1. I love this, Julie! Thank you for sharing. I want to move to Tunis!I have been thinking of you all during this very interesting time.Lennette Boner

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