Two days alone. Bardo: best Roman mosaics museum ever; salvaged some of their best pieces from when the French looted it back for the Louvre but the ship sank off Spain. Happy new years 1430; Tunisian shoppers not tourists means that the medina stalls were playing Queen instead of traditional Arabian. AWESOME Hamman trip for women only; heated steaming massages and cool rooms and your very own bucket and cream and powder and yum. Train to La Goulette over the causeway, paddled in the Med until the tide was high and my hem got soggy, got stalked by a harmless but exasperating twentysomething (“youreverybeautifulwhereyoufromareyoumarried?”). Chapati lunch, OJ and coffee in street cafes with puzzles. Scientific experiment to see how long I could be left alone for: about 45 minutes without offers of jewelry or coffee, about an hour and a half between being proposed marriage.
Holiest city in the Maghreb; cleaner than Tunis because “more Musselmans than tourists”. Opulence in every corner, sheesha and turkish coffee. Swanky Kasbah hotel with heated pool and hot baths and classy Arabian Nightsish decorations, first non-fig jam breakfast in a while. Gaza strip CNN predictable responses from all parties. RAUCOUS call to prayer at 5:51 AM jolting the ENTIRE city awake. Great mosque shares waters with Mecca; non muslims not allowed in. Carpet buying, barber. Stray cats everywhere because the Prophet was kind to cats, also probably to control the rat problem. Louage via Sousse then train back to Tunis, extra bonus tourism to see the Ribat at night. Whiskey at the Jamaica again; Vikash to airport.
Fig jam breakfast then a 4×4 trip to the oasis with a driver, a mechanic, and the bringer of sandwiches; lunch at Roman ruins. Ergs are teh awesome. You are encouraged to translate counting crows “Mr Jones” into Arabic. Berber museum lady; star wars cave hotel (last time i ever take a WiReD magazine hotel recommendation—no rooms decorated as the Milennium Falcon). Very serious business teenager who warned us about scorpions. Cheating on Utah with the landscapes. Troglodyte dwellings then hitchhiked to Gabes. Haltingly resurrected first grade french and guidebook arabic.
Sandwiches and a turban tying lesson with Touaregs. HOT BEDOUIN HORSE RIDERS ON THE DUNES. Sahara sand is proper sand. Questionably literate guide, good singer as Orion rose and the frost settled in over the desert; successful camel hunt. Vikash is The Kash because Arabic has no V; thinks he is prince of the Touareg. I got sold into marriage. Hotel penthouse balcony with view of all of Douz; drum circle; Singapore showers. Dinner with nomads. Dog hunting events at the festival.
Night bus to Tozeur. Two guys on a dirt bike leading a horse. Espresso breakfast and camel couscous dinner. Zoo with camels and an escalope. Panther escort through Jardin du Paradis. Raced horse carts to get to Chak Wat museum, a fantastic theme park/historcial exhibit detailing human evolution, Noah’s ark, Roman history, world religions, and the phenotypes of the Notosaurus. Exchanged pens with a bunch of unreasonably excited local boys for untold child happiness (Hellobonjouroui?). Co-ca-co-la in Arabic characters.
Played Hannibal in the Punic ruins. Call to prayer over the curve of the Mediterranean coast at the old French forts. International incident in the president’s backyard. Islam is for temperate latitudes. New hypothesis: Tunisians can photosynthesize caffeine and nicotine.
TABLE OF TUNISIAN THINGS:
|Sahara!||No central heating|
|Tunisian women||Tunisian men|
12 days in Tunisia with Vikash. My first impression of Africa will forever remain a majestic woman, robed in green and gliding regally through the Customs gate with a Gucci bag on her head. Overall: Tunisians are nosy and talkative. Taxi scams. AWESOME restaurants in the capital (best garlic tomatoes, bottles of syrah, and local olive oil). Medina neat but just like Asian night markets. Same Lonely Planet guidebook. Tunisians smoke and drive like there is no tomorrow. Arabic is Klingon. Teenagers play soccer all day on the Place du Gouverneur.