Monday, July 20, 2015

Holding the Line

Determined to give my grandchildren a day at the beach, I set off with them to Hammamet (Tunisia). Even though the wind whipped the waves around and blew sand in my journal, I watched them play in the water as I started a small sketch...

Then my daughter called: "Go home right now. There's been a terrorist attack an hour away from you."

That was that. Home we went. The news was not good. A man with a kalashnikov ended the lives of 39 tourists on a beach in Sousse. Panic all around. Most tourists got on the next plane home. The British government sent a team to follow the investigation and then told all British citizens to leave Tunisia. I can't blame them: government authority has been seriously undermined since the revolution, plus the long border with Libya is difficult to control and arms are flowing into Tunisia. An Etat de siège (State of Emergency) was declared until the end of August. The beach towns that depend on tourism now look like ghost towns.

In addition, the extent of corruption makes the enforcement of the law difficult and the judicial system suffers. Tunisians appear to be losing sight of the concept of civic responsibility. Garbage collection and refuse dumping continue to be problems. I regularly put on gloves and old work clothes to pick up garbage in front of my house--three big bags last time.

I remain committed to living in Tunisia, however, many unanswered questions now hang in the air. We take things a day at a time. We are holding the line...for the time being.