Let the Chickens Stay
Have I told you how much I love our landlord? We have lived in a lot of different places since we were married, and had some pretty interesting experiences with landlords. So I know how to appreciate a good one. Ours is a doctor, who (for us at least) does house calls. He fixed Tony up with the proper medications after an unfortunate run-in with a hammam foot fungus. He doesn’t tell us to turn off the lights or take short showers, despite the fact that our utilities are included in the rent. He doesn’t try to give me lessons in cleaning. He loves our children, and has never once complained that they are noisy. In fact, while we were moving into our new apartment, he arranged Axa’s room just how she wanted it, and let her help.
The new apartment is another thing I love about him. Planning ahead is not really our strong point. Three months ago, we rented his apartment until the end of June, because we weren’t sure at the time where we would be going afterward. Turns out that we’re not going anywhere. Unfortunately, July is pretty much the most awful time to try to find a place to stay in Tunisia. Housing is scarce, especially in our beach town, and prices quadruple, or worse. In fact, many Tunisians in the area move out of their houses for these two months so they can rent them out to tourists at top dollar (or top euro or pound, as is more generally the case). Tourism may be down, but Hammamet is still getting pretty crowded with unfamiliar faces these days.
So we were thrilled when the Doctor found us another place for the exact same price. The icing on the cake? It was only two doors down. So yes, we will still be able to watch the camels walk down our street in the evening.
We were able to just walk our stuff over (and wonder how we had accumulated so much extra stuff in only a few months). He also gave us the keys a couple of days early, so we could have plenty of time to move. There’s actually a lot of icing on this cake. We now have a balcony off our bedroom, which I have always wanted and never had. Our kids have their own rooms again, which is wonderful for bedtime. And we even have one of those under-the-stairs closets, which of course had to be immediately emptied and made into a playroom for the children, bringing back fond memories of the house where Dominique was born in Vancouver, Washington.
Much to Axa’s and Dominique’s delight, a few days ago the Doctor got six chickens. One escaped and made it into our yard during the very first evening. It was just like old times on the farm in Fallbrook, California. Unfortunately, there was one person who was not happy about the chickens. Alistair, our elderly British downstairs neighbor, promptly announced that he has an “irrational fear” of chickens, and that he “absolutely loathes” them. The next day, they disappeared! Whether the Doctor was persuaded, or there was foul play by Alistair (I couldn’t resist the pun), we still don’t know. But the fact is, the chickens are gone.
It reminded us all too much of when our new neighbor Bob objected to our rooster. He had just moved to rural Fallbrook from posh Coronado Island, where uncivilized things like chickens are prohibited by city ordinance. His realtor had somehow convinced him that his house was located in an exclusive San Diego development, when really it was just across the street from a lot of avocado and orange groves, and us and our acre of goats and chickens. First he tried to reason with us by insisting that keeping livestock was an unworthy pursuit for intelligent people. Then he threatened to call child protective services and make up stories about us and our children. Finally, we got tired of his antics and just got rid of our rooster. It was a sad, sad day when we said goodbye to The Great Achilles, who had been the glossy iridescent black absolute monarch of our little farm.
We’re going to tell the Doctor that if Alistair doesn’t like his chickens, he can keep them at our new house. Because everyone deserves to have a pet chicken, especially people as nice as our landlord.