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Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area is almost 165,000 km², with an estimated population of just over 10.3 million. Its name is derived from the capital Tunis located in the north-east.

At the beginning of known recorded history, Tunisia was inhabited by Berber tribes. Its coast was settled by Phoenicians starting as early as the 10th century BC. The city of Carthage was founded in the 9th century BC by settlers from Tyre, now in modern-day Lebanon. Legend says that Dido founded the city in 814 BC.

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It was just a three hour flight from Amsterdam to Monastir, a beautiful city of the northern coast of Africa. Our friend Nasr was waiting for us at the Monastir airport when we arrived. Nasr was born in Tunisia but has lived in Paris for many years.

We were only there four days but when you know people, you see and learn a lot. Tunisia is of course a primarily Muslim country dominated by Mosques and chanting towers. They chant 5 times per day. If you have the time to take a look at my pictures you can get a feel for the country as well as the people.

Our hotel was lovely, complete with Infinity Pool. Imagine that! This is Africa you know. The staff was quite helpful until it came to my need to connect to the Internet to get a few orders out. They kept telling me they did not have the card. I kept checking with the desk and finally, when I offered to pay, the code was released.

While walking through the streets you see small cafes everywhere filled with men talking and drinking coffee or tea. It was quite rare to see a woman. Tunisian women prefer not to see their family, cousins or children sitting in a café, this is something only the men enjoyed.

Our days were filled with discussions regarding Green Energy products. The first meeting was in Tunis, the capital. We met in a lovely restaurant called La Goulette in La Mer and enjoyed lunch for almost four hours, picking out our preference of fish, shrimp and other treasures of the sea upon entering. The local wines are also very nice.

We were taken to markets and fish shops in the small villages of Mneshi-Lamta and Sayada. Visited Port Job in Teboulbe, and enjoyed mint tea topped with pine nuts in the beautiful and picturesque village of Sisi Bou Saἳd, Village Bleue.

Late in the evening, very large restaurants were filled only with men. “It is the will of God” it was explained to me.

Before heading to the airport we roamed Mahdia and had, again, a wonderful lunch with friends.

Tunisia may not currently be on your “list of places to visit” but I would highly recommend that you put it there! PS I did leave some samples of Mokk-a behind. You never know! http://www.mokka-.com

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LONDON, UK, April 15, 2010 (ENS) – A towering cloud of volcanic ash from the erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland has spread across much of northern Europe, halting air traffic in eight European countries.

Since the eruption Wednesday, thousands of flights have been grounded, stranding many thousand passengers in Ireland, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Air traffic officials say they cannot say when the airspace will be clear enough to fly again.

The last major eruption of this volcano in southern Iceland lasted for two years – from 1821 to 1823.

Plume of ash from the erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland rises above the cloud layer. (Photo courtesy Icelandic Coast Guard)

Today, the ash plume rises at least eight kilometers (five miles) above the Atlantic Ocean. The plume is near the flight paths for most routes from the United States Atlantic coast to European destinations.

Pilots can never fly through clouds of volcanic ash because these bits of pulverized rock and glass can melt in aircraft engines, causing power loss. The ash can damage aircraft electronic, hydraulic, ventilation, and data systems. Sulfur dioxide, another product of volcanoes also carried within the ash clouds following an eruption, is corrosive to aircraft.

Britain’s National Air Traffic Service advises that restrictions will remain in place in UK airspace until 1300 (UK time) Friday, at the earliest.

However, flights from Northern Ireland and the Western Isles of Scotland to and from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick may be allowed in the period from 0100 to 1300 (UK time) Friday subject to individual co-ordination. North Atlantic traffic to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Prestwick and Belfast may also be allowed in the period, NATS said in an advisory statement.

European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas, who is responsible for transport said today, “The volcanic ash cloud is a very significant threat to air safety. National authorities are required to take decisions to ensure safety under international law, such as closure of airspace and airports, without discrimination between airlines.”

“In this case, the airports and those responsible for air traffic control have taken very swift and appropriate action to safeguard the public. And there is excellent co-ordination and co-operation at European level, notably within Eurocontrol,” said Kallas.

“This is a situation which is causing immense difficulties for passengers travelling throughout Europe. It can be considered a very exceptional circumstance. Nevertheless, it is important to remind passengers and airlines that EU passenger rights do apply in this situation,” Kallas said.

He reminded stranded passengers that they have the right to receive information from airlines, “on your rights, on the situation as it evolves, cancellations and length of delays.”

Passengers have the right to care such as refreshments, meals, and accommodation. And passengers have the right to chose between reimbursement of fares or be re-routed to final destination, Kallas said.

Streaks of ashy clouds cross the sunset sky in The Netherlands. April 15, 2010 (Photo by 1banaan)

“In an exceptional circumstance such as this, passengers are not, however, entitled to additional financial compensation that would be the case where delays or cancellations are the fault of the airline,” he said.

Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, said that today’s main north Atlantic east bound flow of aircraft arrived at European airports with little disruption.

Routes to handle the afternoon westbound flow have been moved to the south to avoid the volcanic ash zone, but it is expected that this flow of traffic will be disrupted.

Regular teleconferences attended by air navigation service providers, airport authorities, airlines and Eurocontrol’s Central Flow Management Unit are being held to advise all parties of the status of air traffic.

Passengers seeking information on flights should contact their airline or airport.

At 1,666 meters (5,465 feet) in height, Eyjafjallajokull is one of Iceland’s smaller glaciers. The current eruption was preceded by a series of earthquakes starting in early March, and a small eruption on March 20.

Wednesday’s eruption is below the highest peak of Eyjafjallajokull, at the southern rim of the caldera. The Icelandic Met Office says, “No lava is seen yet but melt-water flows both north and south of the mountain.”

Icelandic authorities evacuated some 800 residents from around the glacier as rivers rose by up three meters (10 feet).

Previous eruptions in the area have caused flooding due to the melting of glacial ice, but scientists say the current eruption is in an area covered by winter snow, not permanent ice.

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LONDON (AFP) – Scottish health authorities warned people Thursday to beware of possible health problems from ash falling to the ground over northern Britain following a volcano eruption in Iceland.

Shetland Islands for a time this afternoon when we had some very small deposits of dust,” said Met Office forecaster John Hammond.

“Over the next few days or so, with winds as they are, there is a chance we will see some small deposits but these will be quite difficult to see.

“It might be easiest to see anything that comes out of the sky on cars because the amounts will be very small.”

Fallout from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in southeast Iceland threw up a huge cloud of ash across northern Europe, prompting authorities to close the airspace in Britain and at least seven other countries.

The volcano fallout is unlikely to pose a major health risk, but people should watch out for symptoms including itchy eyes or a sore throat, said Health Protection Scotland.

“Updated information on weather patterns in the UK now indicates that volcanic ash associated with the current eruption in Iceland will reach ground level over the UK, starting in Scotland this evening before moving south over the course of the night,” said a Health Protection Scotland statement.

“It is important to stress that the concentration of particles which does reach ground level is likely to be low and should not cause serious harm.”

But it said: “if people are outside this evening and notice symptoms such as itchy or irritated eyes, runny nose, sore throat or dry cough, or if they notice a dusty haze in the air or can smell sulphur, rotten eggs … they may wish to limit their activities outdoors or return indoors.”

The British Met Office however downplayed the risk, saying any ash that did fall to the ground would be barely visible.

“There’s always been a small chance of it reaching the ground. It happened over the 

Shetland Islands for a time this afternoon when we had some very small deposits of dust,” said Met Office forecaster John Hammond.

“Over the next few days or so, with winds as they are, there is a chance we will see some small deposits but these will be quite difficult to see.

“It might be easiest to see anything that comes out of the sky on cars because the amounts will be very small.”

Fallout from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in southeast Iceland threw up a huge cloud of ash across northern Europe, prompting authorities to close the airspace in Britain and at least seven other countries.

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Volcano Ash

It is very strange, living near one of the busiest airports in the world, not to have one airplane in the air!  Airports are closed everywhere with thousands of people stranded, waiting……..waiting, for this to pass.   The sky is becoming dark here in Schiedam.  What happened to our beautiful spring sunshine?

They are saying it will pass by late afternoon.  I do hope so.

I am so glad that I am not traveling at the moment!  My what a mess!  And there is absolutely nothing that anyone can do but wait.  Mother Nature is in control at the moment.

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2010 Sofi Awards!

Hey everyone!  Mokk-a has been accepted for the 2010 Sofi Awards to be presented in New York the end of June at the Fancy Food Show.  I received a call Friday afternoon.  Mokk-a will be entered into the Outstanding New Product/Outstanding New Product Line category!  I am thrilled!!

Finalists are announced the week of 7 June!  Ok everyone start praying now! and keep your fingers crossed!!

www.mokk-s.com

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By Fred Ojambo

April 7 (Bloomberg) — Kenya’s benchmark coffee price rose 7.7 percent at an auction today after the quality of beans improved, the Nairobi Coffee Exchange said.

The average price for the top AA grade rose to $399.72 for a 50 kilogram (110 pound) bag from $371.27 on March 30, the exchange said in an e-mailed statement today. The price for all coffee sold rose to an average of $236.34 a bag from $221.33 last week.

“We got quality coffee in the market today,” Daniel Mbithi, the exchange’s chief executive officer said by phone from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

Sales at the auction fell 9.8 percent to 9,919 bags worth $2.85 million, from 11,000 bags last week, the agency said without providing the value for last week.    Supplies at the 19th auction of Kenya’s 2009-10 season, which began on Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 30, fell 7.8 percent to 16,143 bags from 17,500 bags last week as stocks decline, the exchange said.    Kenya harvests the bulk of its crop from October through December, while a secondary crop is reaped from April to June.      The following are details of today’s auction in U.S. dollars for a 50-kilogram bag

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