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On Saturday, we took the boat from Palermo and arrived in Tunisia late at night. The following morning, we woke up on the hilltop of Sidi Bou Saïd, overlooking the beautiful city of La Marsa, where we stayed for two years (1984-85) while my parents prepared to set up the Eden project in Niger.

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With my friend Amel in a traditional berber house, Tunisia 1986

For me, who was four and five years old at the time we stayed here, revisiting La Marsa has been a very pleasant experience.

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I can fully understand why no one in the family wanted to leave this calm and charming place, situatued next to the sea and within a reasonable driving distance from family and friends back in Scandinavia. The need in Niger however was more urgent than anywhere else in Northern West Africa.

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After two years, our comfortable time in Tunisia was up and the challenges of setting up a project in the least developed area of the world filled the following two decades of our lives.

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Although many areas of La Marsa had changed since we left in 1986,

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…many places were still the same,

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…living on as personal landmarks.

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For my father, however, revisiting the place where the vision of Eden was launched has been a mixed experience, as every memory is connected to my mother. “She’s the only thing missing,” he said as he looked out over the streets of La Marsa.

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One of the first stops was to see Moncef, the first friend my father made after arriving in Tunisia.

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Having not seen each other for the past seventeen years (the last time we drove through Tunisia was in 1993), Moncef was taken completely by surprise. The reunion was a very emotional one.

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After recovering from the initial shock, Moncef invited us all for a cup of coffee La Marsa style.

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We had a long moment in front of the sea,

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Arne & Moncef

…enjoying two old friends catch up on the past two decades, as if they had never been apart.

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After our café crème moment, Moncef took us to see our old home, which we would not have found without his help as the entire neighbourhood had changed so much.

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On the veranda in La Marsa with our kittens Janson & Katika (1986)

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The owners recognized my father immediately and were so happy to see us, inviting us in for tea.

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It was amazing experiencing the very house where we lived during our La Marsa stay, refreshing fond memories from a past era and talking about what had happened since.

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We also had the opportunity to meet Moncef’s sister Faouzea, also a very close family friend.

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When we met last night, she brought pictures of our years together, and they were a special treat as I had never seen them before.

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We are still in Tunisia, reviving our roots and catching up with old friends again. After all that we’ve been through, we all need time to heal, and Tunisia is turning out to be a good place for that.