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Revisiting host family in Tunis
In 2008, I took my then 5-year old daughter to Tunisia to visit the family I lived with as an exchange student in 1987-88. That first time, as a teenager, was a trip that changed me completely! I wanted nothing less than to observe my daughter, at a much more open and malleable age, experiencing the sights, smells and experiences of REAL traveling. One highlight of the trip was visiting the Tourbet El Bey Mausoleum in the Tunis medina. While discussing the history with the caretaker, I caught a glimpse of my daughter, whirling like a dervish in one of the courtyards. The caretaker was as spellbound as I, insisting that she had felt the spirit of the place unlike anyone else he'd known! The other amazing moment came with the sound of the muezzin's call. I explained that if she sat quietly just outside the doorway, she could watch baba (father) pray. She did this and surprisingly stayed through the whole thing. While baba changed back into his day clothes, she demonstrated with amazing precision the prayer process, the stance, the bowing, the placement of the head on the floor, the lifting of hands, the murmuring. I was blown away. When baba came back, I told him what she had described, and from there we three had an amazing discussion of religion and the questions of life! Baba gave an amazing summary of religion, saying it was really all about three things: Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? My daughter got it completely!
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