After spending the entire day working at our favorite coffee-shop (Salon de Thé la Corniche), we were surprised when suddenly the place cleared out and we were the only people left. Normally the patio is filled with men smoking chicha and sipping café "express," what we would call espressos. Where had everyone gone? Our friend and waiter, Yousri, explained what was going on. There was a soccer match over at the stadium—Kerkennah versus their nearby rival, Sfax. After he got off work Yousri was going to head over for the second half, and we decided to do the same.
Only a few blocks away, just feet from the ocean, was the sports' stadium packed to the gills with cheering, singing, drum-beating fans. We were waved inside by the friendly police officer guarding the door. When I asked about paying for tickets, he smiled, shook his head, and said "it's almost over, anyway." The bleachers were stuffed, as were the walls of fence surrounding the field. I squeezed in at the end of the fence next to some Kerkennian women to watch, while Tyler left with the camera to climb the sidewall. Several little boys were already sitting up there, dangling their legs and watching the game with a fantastic view unhindered by chain-link.
We had arrived late in the second half, so after about twenty minutes the game ended and the throng began to file out of the stadium. Kerkennah (the white team) and Sfax (the yellow team) had tied, 1-1. As we followed the crowd out of the stadium, making our way back to the cafe, several people passed us and gave us the thumbs up, shouting "great game!" in French. Our friendly waiter was not so pleased about the results—Yousri would have preferred a Kerkennah win against their arch rival!
After another couple of hours of work and chatting with family on the coffee-shop's wi-fi, we discovered we were ravenously hungry. Tired of our standard sandwiches and pizza, we decided to frequent the town's only real restaurant, La Sirene. Yousri had recommended it, saying it was good and not very expensive, and encouraged us to try the famed Kerkennian seafood. Neither of us particularly like seafood (especially Tyler) but we were excited to taste the local specialties.
The restaurant was quiet, and our waiter friendly. He welcomed us to the island and recommended a wine, which we ordered. To await our food, he presented us with a basket of bread and dish of the standard harissa chili sauce, this time accompanied with some tuna. Normally I don't really like tuna, but this was good!
For appetizers I chose the octopus salad, and Tyler picked "Soupe du Pecheur" or Fisherman's soup. We both really liked them! My salad was chopped up octopus tentacle (tastier than it sounds—it's pretty plain but tastes rich and is slightly chewy) in a fresh salsa of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, chili, and other spices. YUM! The soup was very simple and not even very "fishy" tasting. I decided it had to be some sort of light fish stock with a touch of tomato. Lovely.
By the time we finished our bread and appetizers, we were basically full, but of course we had more food coming! Main dishes were grilled squid and the fish of the day, "dorade" which is in season right now. Our waiter told us that the fish, which was caught this morning, was done so using traditional woven palm baskets—the fish swim in but cannot get out and are hence trapped inside, just like Mme. Fehri explained to us at the museum in El Abbasiya.
Both of our main dishes were much more fishy than the appetizers and we quickly reached our seafood quota. I'm sure fish lovers would have been in heaven, though!
For our seafood dinner, we decided to use some donation money from Debbie Black's generous contribution. She loves the languages and life of different world cultures, so we thought her generous donation apt for our evening of trying new, local specialties, even though they were a little out of our comfort zone! It was a real treat for us to go out to a nice restaurant and try new things! Thank you so much, Debbie, we really appreciate your kind donation!!
Thoroughly stuffed, we wandered back to the cafe for one last email check, then made our way back to the hostel. Star Trek here we come!