Saturday, 6 November 2010

Central West Tunisia

John & Jan from "Brigantia" Roman Amphitheatre at El Jem Berber houses underground Berber Tea and bread 74 year old oasis worker Canyon in the Atlas mountains Roadside rubbish Off to market?

Sheep grazing in town Roadside fuel

Hi from Clare Central West Tunisia Thursday 4th November 2010 SIGHTS TO SEE With most of the work behind us we now have time to do some sight seeing. Our English friends John and Jan on “Brigantia” (Photo 1) came with us on a three day land tour of the central west of Tunisia. We traveled some 1200 km and saw an amphitheatre (Photo 2), an art and craft museum, a museum on the history of Tunisia, a Berber village (Photo 3 & 4), Bedouin tents, a cultivated oasis (Photo 5), canyons in the Atlas Mountains (Photo 6), a waterfall, camels, The Grand Mosque, souvenir shops and a carpet shop. LOST IN TRANSLATION We had a great time and lots of laughs with Jan and John. The three days were full on from 6am to 6pm. Our guide spoke five languages but English was his weak suit. We had to really concentrate to understand what he was saying. Fortunately Jan could speak French and so with her interpretation and John’s imagination, whatever was lost in translation was certainly made up for in laughs. WOE IS ME Our guide Hammet or affectionately dubbed “Ham Head” talked non stop about his broken marriage and women. By nightfall we were bored stiff and plotting how to avoid him. We considered asking him not to dine with us, he had other ideas. He joined us for dinner and pre dinner drinks in the bar each night and then left us to pay the bill – smart move. HOW DO THEY DO IT Hammet said the average wage is 300 Dinah a month (a Dinah equals 80 cents). The prices in the shops and supermarkets are equivalent to Australia. However the Tunisian people look well dressed and well fed. Something doesn’t add up. Maybe there are two different prices, one for tourists and one for locals. BAKHSHISH We were told by other cruising people to expect to pay Bakhshish to officials when entering Tunisia, We also heard that they would come on the boat and ask for spirits (alcohol) or some other form of gift. We have seen very little of this but as wages are low we do tip everyone who offers a service. RANDOM OBERVATIONS Firstly, I have never seen so much rubbish. It is in the streets, the paddocks, building sites, the neighborhood, the market, rivers and waterways. Plastic is everywhere (Photo 7). In Monastir and every town we passed through, there are endless Caf├ęs with men sitting around drinking coffee – there are no women present. Smoking is permitted in most places and a lot of Tunisians smoke. Public rubbish bins are not washed and stink of “bin juice”. You smell the bins long before you see them. There are a few beggars on the street and children come and ask for money, I’ve seen sheep in the backseat of the car (Photo8). They are brought into the busy town to graze on a little patch of grass (Photo9). The sheep leave droppings, but no one removes them. In the country there was a market day for second hand clothes. Everything was piled on the tables in a disorderly fashion and women were foraging through it – no waste here. Petrol in Tunisia costs 1 Dinah a litre. However petrol is brought across the border from Lybia for one tenth of that price and sold in 20 litre cans on the side of the road (Photo 10). The children in the country seem happy and wave and speak to you. They certainly haven’t been taught about “stranger danger”. I guess it’s not necessary. The young Tunisian people are very good looking. Many of the girls are so gorgeous it is hard not to stare at them. There are plenty of attractive young men also. They don’t seem to keep their good looks as they grow older though. SO WHAT NOW Andrew’s son Matthew is flying in tonight from London to spend four days with us. His workplace has a policy that if you don’t use your leave you loose it, so Matt has decided to take his two remaining days and run them into the weekend. We will have a look at Monastir tomorrow, Friday we will take a tour to Tunis, which is the capital and has much to offer. Sunday there is a regatta of sailing boats and a BBQ. Matthew will fly back to London on Monday and we will fly to London the following Thursday. We will spend a week in London firstly with Matt and Mim and then with cruising friends Keith and Jean from “La Liberte” We have also arranged to see Shane and the new Mrs Wilson in London before flying to Sydney on 17th November. This is my penultimate newsletter. Love Candy xx