January 11, 1977
Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaDear Uncle Harold, Aunt Jean & Mary V. –
I enjoyed your Christmas letter which arrived this week. It takes at least 2 weeks to get a letter from the States, you know. I also heard from Cathy and Gerry too.
I moved out to the desert around the 23rd of Dec. I'm now in a 2-room apartment about 10 kilometers from Jeddah. A bus takes me to school each morning and then brings me back home again. The nearest habitation to my Motel-6 home is a cement factory – Occasionally there are camels that pass by on their way to munch on the the garbage the construction workers throw away near our building.
Last weekend I, two other Americans and a Jordanian drove to the mountains of Taif and spent a day there. Beautiful desert sands and rocky mountains. The city is on a plateau about 6,000 feet above sea level. It was cold – we visited the souk and then took our lunch out to a Waadi and had a picknick. The area looks like a typical Biblical scene – barren rock – a few shrubs, sheep and camels. It was really a nice day.
You asked about Tunisia – I highly recommend it. We spent a few days in Tunis and then went to the holy city of Kairouan. We also visited Sousse which is very touristy – lots of hotels there along the beaches – much like Miami Beach. There is a lot to do there (in Tunis), a lot to see. The weather during the months of Nov. Dec. was ideal. I stayed at a Hotel called Tunisia Palace on Avenue Carthage – right downtown for practically nothing. I saw 2 art exhibits, bought a rug and met some very interesting people – One was an art teacher at the Art Institute there – Tunisia reminded me a lot of Dakar, Senegal because, I guess, of the French language and their influence on the people. I thought Egypt was a big tourist trap but nevertheless, it really is an interesting country. I loved Florence, Italy.
I now work a 40 hour week – That doesn't give me much time to paint, play tennis and meet people, does it. I work on my Arabic everyday. It's really a challenge!
I miss Senegal so much but the nostalgia isn't so bad now because I'm learning more and more about where I am and I'm growing to like it. May you be blessed with the happiest of New Years ––
Love, Joe –– Thanks for your letters!