One month after Velocity sent our replacement rims, their convoluted journey has ended here on our desert island of Kerkennah. The first two weeks featured an information blackout during which they sat, apparently forgotten, in New Jersey. Go US Postal Service! Following this, they arrived at an unknown location in Tunisia where they cleared customs only to re-appear in customs a day later, and then promptly stop moving. For awhile, we weren't sure if they were in Tunis, Sfax, Kerkennah or a black hole, and nobody else seemed to know either!
All things considered, our month "off" came at a pretty good time. Since we're in Tunisia mostly to avoid the coldest months of winter we haven't exactly been in a hurry to leave. We spent the first two weeks of our wait on Kerkennah while I finished a small mountain of paying work. Tara made good use of the time too, really digging into the novel she is writing, accomplishing more than she ever thought possible in such a short period. During our stay on the islands we really became a part of the community. This rewarding experience definitely wasn't in the game plan for our round-the-world bicycle tour but we wouldn't trade it for the world.
After two weeks without news from the USPS, we decided to store our bikes at a local hotel and hit the road to try out Tunisia's public transit system. In doing so, we re-discovered the reason we're on two wheels in the first place: to really connect with the land and the people in the countries we travel through. It was incredible how distinctly disconnected we felt, flying from city to city using trains, taxis and louages. While it made for easy sightseeing, it just doesn't compare to cycle touring in our opinion. Then, we tried the next best (maybe even better!) thing, riding a scooter!
We saw heavenly white salt flats, attended a meeting of peoples from across the desert, crashed through dunes on a 4x4, explored an epic Star Wars set, learned to how to tie headscarves, rode camels in the Sahara, stayed at a four star hotel, and broke through to a new level of Tunisian acceptance, even more profound than becoming a regular figure in small Tunisian town. It's been a pretty action-packed month off!
Thanks to the help of Anissa at the Djerba offices of Hotel Pansea, we finally found our rims just a few days ago. After some discussion, we agreed it was high time we got back to riding our bicycles. When arrived to get them in Sfax, we discovered they had, at long last, delivered our packages to Kerkennah. When we tried to reach Kerkennah, there was too much wind. When we finally made it to the islands today, we learned that the post hadn't delivered our rims to the cafe. Receiving shipments in Tunisia remains an arduous task. We'll have to pick them up at the post office when they open tomorrow.
Here are some photos of us in Douz learning to wrap our head scarves: