Sometimes it's necessary to step out of your comfort zone.
I never heard of the country of Tunisia until 2005, when my husband went there to shoot a film. I needed an atlas to find its location. Tunisia faces the Mediterranean Sea at the tip of the North African continent, sharing its interior boarders with Algeria and Libya. Because of recent political and social unrest, many more people are now aware of Tunisia's existence. In 2005, Tunisia was mostly known by Europeans as a tourist destination. Though an experienced traveler, I decided there was no way I was going to Tunisia. It was too far, too foreign, and held no interest for me. My mind was made up. Or so I thought.
There is one thing that will make me step out of my comfort zone and fly thousands of miles. It is to be with someone I love. So, on July 30th, 2005, I found myself on the continent of North Africa, in the Tunisian city of Hammamet.
Tunisia wasn't at all as I had envisioned. My husband and I had a suite at a pristine hotel in one of the nicest beach resorts. Every morning there was a huge buffet breakfast, with crepes, omelettes made to order, baked goods, beautiful fruit, cheese, and more. After breakfast, the tourists wandered out to the pool area, claimed their lounge chairs, and baked in the sun for most of the afternoon. In the evening, they headed to the tourist oriented bars and restaurants, spent money in the casinos, and danced in the nightclubs. They weren't experiencing the culture at all. The tourists could have been anywhere that had a pool, a beach with palm trees, and some sort of night life. As the character Sherlock Holmes would have remarked, "They saw, but they did not observe."
I did not want to be one who saw but did not observe. I walked, exploring areas away from the resort. I observed a battered truck weighed down by a load of melons. A stray dog digging in the trash. Painfully thin horses pulling carriages for the tourists. In the evening, I sat on the balcony of the hotel and observed young boys dressed like organ-grinder's monkeys, determinedly selling sprigs of jasmine.
There is a certain amount of fear, unpleasantness and inconvenience in stepping out of your comfort zone. But isn't that the case with most adventures?