I was nine years old when the problem started. One day unexpectedly on the wall of my bed a world map appeared. It was with the size of fototapet and immediately grabbed my attention. I started to explore it so deep that its existence became a problem. I had only 3 months summer vacation, and I pointed at least 100 countries I wanted to visit. In my child’s mind the fantasy was working, and I was spending hours, planning trips and ways to move in order to see the maximum to the end of my vacation on 15 September. My trip around the world did not happen neither this, or the any of the following summers, but thanks to the map I was able to beat any geography teacher, naming the most exotic countries and their capitals.
The map was very detailed, but I don’t remember if Kairouan was pointed out on it. On the territory of Tunisia probably there was a sign for the capital and that’s it. Despite the population of over 150000 people Kairouan rarely is written even on the present-day maps. But after my visit there, if I must mark something in Tunisia, it won’t be the beautiful beaches of Hamamet, the leftovers of Cartagena, or Sidi By Said and its white streets. The reason for this is, that my place in this country is Kairouan.
It was just an ordinary trip. We said goodbye to the beach side and we entered the middle of the country. We were stopping to eat cactus fruits from the street markets, we were drinking tons of water because of the heat and just before entering the city we put a lot of sunscreen on our skin to protect ourselves. Then we went to the Big Mosque. For people with four cameras and nobody else.
To be in a symbolic place like that and to have it just for yourself is a priceless experience. With Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem Kairouan is one of the holiest cities for the Muslims. The city is a UNESCO heritage place. And from the whole world, because of the heat, fear or who knows why in this amazing place we the only visitors were. We were satisfied to spend our time inside, then we passed by the old part of the city, and when we went back to the car our driver was as a reborn. Afters hours in a cooled and quiet place he wanted to show us something special – the Mosque of Sidi Sahbi.
Small, precious and colorful bijoux. That is the way I would describe this temple, after I spending a long time admiring its decoration. Its guard –an old Tunisian was almost asleep with wet towel on his head. From time to time some pilgrimage was entering the mosque and siting on the floor. The life was floating smoothly and slowly, and without any words. No wind, trees, birds, nothing. Just marble, which you can hug trying to cool yourself and an atmosphere, that any camera cannot present.
So, I went back in my memories to the map. It is important to have clear vision. Capitals, countries, rivers and continents. But it is much more important to look for these places, that are not shown on all maps. Because they hold the key for the truth about the real beauty of a country and they are the ones who will leave the real seal in your mind.