I celebrated my birthday a wee bit early last weekend at the resort town of Hammamet. As we were making our weekend plans, it did look like it might be a stormy weekend, but we are from the Northwest and I romanticized going to the Oregon Coast on a winter weekend, which is not an unusual thing to do. As one would, we planned to do a lot of reading and expected chilly beach walks.
But the rain storm that rolled in on Friday evening surpassed our expectations. We entered Hammamet to flooded streets and being led on a dark path to our rooms, just by the sea fence, we could hear the Mediterranean a few feet away, crashing and roaring. It rained torrentially all night.
Allan had made plans for us to have a little adventure on Saturday morning. Some friends had discovered a primitive village a year ago when their young son had been cast in a film about Mary, mother of Jesus. He was to play Jesus as a child, but alas, as the filming day drug on, his blood sugar level and interest in the whole project waned and when it was time for him to perform, he just wasn’t feeling it anymore. The setting of Zriba el Alia, where the filming was done, however, is a dead ringer for a Biblical era stone village and is worth scouting out.
Only inhabited currently by some sheep herders and their families, it isn’t well-known and is not exactly easy to access. We had some Google Maps directions, but would never have found it without the conversational Arabic skills Gabe has already amassed in 6 short weeks of study. Allan pulled over every time he saw two or more young men on the roadside and made Gabe ask again which way to Zriba el Alia. Impressively, they understood him right away and kept gesturing straight down the road.
Following the dramatic rainstorm, the sky was a major player in the scenery. It was bluer than blue, freshly washed, and the clouds were still forming into expressive collections. I am reading The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin at the moment so I had many contemplations about the life of Jesus and those who surrounded him as I poked through these sepulchre-looking rooms. The entire village must have been painted blue at one time, inside and out. The remains of the patina offset all of the natural stone, providing interesting photography opportunities.