“…he’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds”
So, the holidays have ended, I hope you all put away the Christmas gadgets until the end of this year, and we are back to reality – and surprisingly, this time I was ready to come home. The three weeks I spent in Africa were the most relaxing I’ve ever had when it comes to vacations: I travelled a lot, but it was on my terms. If I felt like touring the surroundings of a city, I did: if not, I spent time in the SPA or in bed, reading, and occasionally glancing at the seaside outside my hotel rooms. What sounds extremely normal to anyone who’s ever went on vacate, to me is extraordinary: I’m never the one to just let go and enjoy, I have everything planned. Hotels, places, restaurants (Tripadviser… what can I say?), clothes, you name it. Control freak in a charmingly blonde bombshell package, as my husband says. (The man needs a medal for keeping up with my OCD-s, seriously)
The backdrop of these pictures is Ksar Ouled Soltane, a fortified granary on the top of a hill (strategic, no?) in the Tataouine district, south Tunisia. Many Star Wars fans will recognize it instantly. I was never a big SW saga fan, but last year I had to see all the movies for research purpose, and even though I am not very up-to-date with all the movie details, at least I’m no longer ignorant in a cult theme. 😀
I must admit it was very much fun to see the actual filming locations: when I first went there two years ago, Lady V was not yet a clear idea and I was a regular tourist in a sea of selfie sticks and crazed out SW fans. This year, as I’ve already mentioned, Tunisia was all to myself and this place was entirely deserted except for a local artist whose work I bought and took home with me.
I wasn’t even going to shoot pictures, but unknown to me, husband had taken what he calls “lady Violante’s suitcase”, attached it to the motorbike, took the camera and once we had arrived, just said, “please change. Let others see how much you love this place.”
As I cannot refuse him anything, and the sun was incredible (I recall around 26 degrees), I kicked off my shoes (bye bye cleanliness maniac) and danced a bit for the camera. I would have done the same even if there were tourists around, my level of “don’t care” is that high now, but the astounding silence interrupted only by the call to prayer from the nearby mosque and the union of sun and the blue sky freed me from any issues I had left. Hair, makeup, all that doesn’t count at all: you’ll find pictures of me as I was, helmet hair, bare feet and all.
Any trip changes you, but if you’re extremely lucky, you can have some exceptional ones that will free you from any residue of urban anxiousness and give you precious moments when you get in touch with what you really want. And while the old year was ending and the new one approaching, I finally took all my courage and admitted my heart really desires. I won’t reveal, I’ll just limit myself to working on it. But I would encourage anyone to take “me-time” as much as your life allows, and to ask yourself: are you happy at the end of the day?
2015 thought me (I should better say, kicked my ass into realizing) about the inevitability of loss and dealing with curveballs life throws you. And it’s so short, so very small in the grand scheme of things, but it’s all yours to create and model as you see fit: so what is stopping you?
From the very beginning to the end, this trip has given me the chance to exercise my patience. Something went not how I envisioned it? The old me would have been nervous. The new me just smiled and thought I was lucky to ride into the sunset on a bike with the love of my life. What could ever disturb my peace? I remember being turned away from an archeological site by the military, in my opinion because we were too close to the Algerian border and they feared for our safety: my husband was a bit sad, but I just reminded him we were lucky beyond measure to see the beauty of Africa around us and to be healthy enough to be there. He’s a cynic, but he had to agree. At the end of the day, it all comes down at how you turn things around: so easy, but it’s shocking to see how many people just do not even consider the remote possibility of doing it.
After these photos, I changed back into my regular dusty motorbike gear, and only then we were timidly invited by a tiny crowd of locals to have some mint tea with them. The old me would have thought about boiled water and endless stomach issues, the new me smiled and accepted with joy. They were curious to know why I was taking pictures, wanted to see on camera the result of the work, and they complimented me on my Berber eyes (I seem to hear that a lot in Tunisia…!). Not for a moment have I felt threatened or judged. Moments like that give you hope that not all humanity is lost to good sense, no?
You can find precious advice in a country that is infinitely poorer in terms of classic richness than any European one, and that has been hit by terrorism that has single-handedly destroyed its source of income. I’ve seen people invest in their dreams, may that be a small shop, a new hotel, or local artisans. And one has to wonder: I have so much more, yet I am leaving my dreams for tomorrow. Lesson learned, Tunisia.
Three weeks of un-rushed, peaceful vacation, beautiful weather and fabulous food will give you all that, but they will also give you time to think. I’ve come home and I watch these pictures with delight, because I recognize the bursting joy and the feeling of freedom Ksar Ouled Soltane gave me.
This 2016 is proving to be somewhat weird: in a week we’ve lost some great talents such as David Bowie and Allan Rickman (I adored both). You’ll recognize David’s lyrics as the title and incipit of my post. It’s one of my favorite songs that always puts a smile on my face and makes me sing on the top of my lungs, much to the joy of my neighbors. Yes, that’s ironic. No, I don’t care. I’ll leave you with these:
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He told us not to blow it
‘Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
LOCATION: KSAR OULED SOLTANE, TATAOUINE, TUNISIA
OUTFIT: DOLCE & GABBANA SKIRT, PROENZA SCHOULER SWEATER, CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN SHOES