Tunisian Adventure March 2012

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June 7th 2012
Published: June 7th 2012
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My trips to Tunisia

Chantal and I travelled by car from Swift Current to Regina airport and from Regina airport all the till Tunis airport in Tunisia. It was long trips.

Tunisian CouscousTunisian CouscousTunisian Couscous

My friend from Tunisia prepared this food for us at our house. It was in summer.
Our friends always making a good food every times they invited us to their place here in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada. Sometimes when they invited us, Oualid and Mouna make Tunisian specialities, such as Couscous, Tajine, cakes and Pastries. They are delicious food and healthy food too.

One day, Oualid and Mouna asked Chantal and me to visit his home country, Tunisia; it’s located in the North Africa and later they came to show us online about Tunisia and what to visit. They also pointed out about where they are from on the map on the Internet. A few days later, Oualid and Mouna found special airfares on the Internet with Air France and the airfares must be purchased before the dead line on Dec. 29th, 2011. Sounds good to me...I said only $748.96/person (Note: a dollar sign indicates in Canadian dollar). The airfares for a round trip only, travelling from Toronto-Paris-Tunis. So, Chantal and I agreed to buy the plane tickets for the two of us and they have to buy theirs. Before though, I have to book my vacation at work and asked my department manager to accept my vacation right away and told the reason why. I booked my vacation from March 15th-29th, 2012, which I had enough for the vacation pay. So, Chantal went to Oualid and Mouna’s apartment on Sunday, 18th Dec. 2011 to book the flight for us and they did it. I got an e-mail messages that was forwarded to me on Monday, 19th Dec. 2011 by Chantal and the messages’ subjects that one message that read “Confirmation de votre reservation” and the other message that read “AHMAD MUSLIM AHMAD MUSLIM MR(ADT) et accompagnant(s), votre voyage du 15/03/12, and travel companion(s), your trip on 15/03/12”. I had all the information about the traveling with the Air France, the airfares, luggage and so on.

The total airfares for the two of us with Air France were $1497.92 included the tax. We had a problem that we have to travel from Swift Current to Regina by car or by bus (total cost about the same) and park our car in the airport parking lot (it will be expensive for over a week to park the car there) and then from Regina airport to Toronto airport by plane. So, we decided to take our car to Regina airport that day. We booked on Monday, 6th Feb. our Air Canada flights from Regina to Toronto for travelling on Thursday, 15th Mar. And total cost for the two of us with Air Canada was $1256.58. Look how much different from Air Canada with Air France, this is ridiculously too high just travelling inside Canada alone.

I had a problem and the problem was that I didn’t apply a tourist visa at the Tunisian Consulate in Montréal, Québec as soon as possible because I didn’t what I was thinking off. Anyway, the time came finally to apply the visa. I needed it in order to travel and stay in Tunisia because I am not a Canadian citizen, but I’m an Indonesian citizen. All Indonesian citizens must apply a visa to travel to Tunisia, so there I was needed it. The visa must be applied before the departure and at least it will take a month. So, I contacted the Tunisian embassy in Ottawa on Tuesday, 24th January 2012 and told them that I need a tourist visa to travel to Tunisia and someone there told me to contact the Tunisian Consulate in Montréal and she gave me the phone number of the consulate. I phoned the consulate at the same day and told them that I need a tourist visa because I wasn’t a Canadian citizen, but I’m an Indonesian citizen and a lady there gave me an e-mail address to use it as a way to contact them later. So, she gave me the e-mail address and then I e-mailed her. Right away, she e-mailed me back with instruction on the attachment that she included. I opened the e-mail and download the attachment and scanned the instruction on how to apply the tourist visa. It was a simple one; I had to take a passport size picture at the Photoworks by Laura on 6th Ave. NE in Swift Current. I had a photo taken at the Photoworks by Laura on January 24th and cost me $16.45 and then I filled in the visa application form. On Thursday, 26th January 2012, Chantal and I went to the post office-Pharmasave store to sent the application to Tunisian Consulate that was addressed to: Consulate de la République Tunisienne, 1255 rue Université, Suite 300, Montréal, QC, H3B 2B4 and Tél: (514) 844-6909, Fax: (514) 844-5895; Courriel: ctmontreal@bellnet.ca.

On March 5th, I tried to contact the consulate in Montréal by e-mail to see if the visa is ready or not because it was one month already after I applied the tourist visa, so I just wondered about it. I was worried about the visa, maybe I will go to Tunisia or not and then I have to cancel the flights and lose some money. So, we were thinking to go or not, go later and Chantal goes now or use the air plane tickets later before one year when the ticket is overdue. Something like that, our thoughts were. So, I let the days passing by till one day before Chantal and I have to travel on the 15th of March, Oualid and Mouna were going to talk about my visa request to the consulate because at that time they were there for his conference in Montréal until their vacation come together with us in Tunisia. Chantal also contacted the consulate by phone on March 14th (the last day before we travel on March 15th to Tunisia) and at the consulate, Mr. Lotfi Ghariani, who was in charge of accepting visa application in the consulate told her that I have to pick it up my passport on March 16th. Chantal also contacted the Air France and Air Canada for me to change my flights.

My previous flights were booked from Regina to Toronto and Toronto to Paris to Tunis, but now have changed. My flights now, from Regina to Toronto, Toronto to Montréal, Montréal to Paris, Paris to Tunis and on the way back was stayed as we booked earlier. All these troubles cost me an extra money to change with Air Canada, $75 (to change) and $101.12 (total fare to Montréal) and with Air France, I paid more $630.70. Grand total of all troubles was $806.82. Finally all set up, my flights was changed from Regina to Toronto on March 15th and to Montréal the same day, but from Montréal to Paris and to Tunis was the next day on March 16th and the good thing was that on the way back from Tunis to Regina, we could be seated together with Chantal on the planes. Now, our vacation started.

On Thursday, 15th March, finally our vacation has started. Chantal and I woke up at 12:30 in the morning and got ready to travel by our car to Regina airport about 2:30 minutes trip to catch a flight at 5 in the morning. I will be travelling at 5 in the morning from Regina to Toronto and then to Montréal. On the way to the airport, we stopped at Moose Jaw for some minutes to rest and then continued to Regina. When we arrived there at the airport, we had an extra time so we didn’t rush to check-in at the counter of Air Canada. We parked our car and put our car keys away and also we try to remember about where we park the car and where we put the keys. We arrived at the counter and we both checked-in and we took some money for the trip to Toronto and Montréal. We went to the security check and then we waited for my flight to depart. From there, Chantal and I were separated all the way to Tunisia. We could seat together aside before but not now. I left Regina first at 5 in the morning and Chantal was at 10 in the morning. We said “Good bye.” to each other and see you in Tunisia when my row number was called. I arrived in Toronto airport and then went
Casa Tradicional de Dar el Annabi in Sidi Bou SaidCasa Tradicional de Dar el Annabi in Sidi Bou SaidCasa Tradicional de Dar el Annabi in Sidi Bou Said

We went to the old and historic Casa Tradicional de Dar el Annabi with so many nice things to see there in Sidi Bou Said. It was worth to visit. The cost to visit was 3DT500 (3 dinar and 500 milim or millimes) plus a glass of hot tea/person and we were four of us.
to find my connection to Montréal. When I arrived in Montréal airport, I purchased a bus ticket for $8.00 and it was good for 24 hours. With the bus ticket, I could travel anywhere in Montréal by busses or by metros and it was called “STM L’Occasionnelle”. The Société de transport de Montréal, STM card was very convenience to use to travel around the city and the busses are everywhere in Montréal, so it was very good. I took the bus to downtown Montréal and I arrived there within a few minutes. It was fast and convenience because it was airport bus express. It stopped at one block from the consulate, though I had to ask someone about where the consulate was. Someone at the consulate told Chantal that I have to phone Mr. Lotfi Ghariani, the consulate assistant before I go there, but I tried to call him and no one was answering my phone call. I have to hurry to the consulate to get my passport before they closed at 3pm and I arrived there at 2pm, so I had time or I was on time. So, I went direct to the consulate and met someone at the reception and the receptionist told Mr. Lotfi that I was there to get my passport. A few minutes later, he came with my passport and he went through my passport where he gave me the tourist visa stamped on my passport. I “Thanks” him for giving me permission to travel to Tunisia. After I was done at the consulate, I went to the métro station. At the McGill métro, I phoned Oualid that I have arrived in Montréal and that I will go to his apartment to stay overnight. He and Mouna gave me permission to stay at their place for a night. They were still there at that time and I went to take the métro from McGill to Papineau. When I arrived there at their apartment building, the lady, who was taking care of the place inside didn’t want to open the door because I was a stranger. So, I told her that I have to meet Oualid and then she called him for me. Oualid came and opened the door for me and I went along with him to his apartment. Mouna was there too and we all met again. Oualid and Mouna were waiting for to go to the Montréal airport around 4 in the afternoon to take a flight in the evening to Paris, France and then to Tunis, Tunisia. They instructed me about the place and where to put the apartment’s key and so on before they left. When they left, I just went to bed to sleep and then around 7pm, I woke up and went to the Lebanese restaurant located just next door. The food was good and then I went to bed again till the next morning.

On Friday, 16th March, I got up and prepared to go to the airport before my STM card expired around noon because that was when I bought the bus ticket called “STM” like the size of credit card. Chantal told me later in Tunisia that she met Oualid and Mouna in Paris airport and went together to Tunisia on the same plane and also arrived the same time, except me, stuck in Montréal for one night. I left the apartment around 11am to the métro from Papineau to Berri-Uqam, where the bus depot was and then I went to the bus depot right on beside the metro but it was closed. There was direction to tell us that the bus depot has moved not far from where it was. So, now the bus depot has new look and very nice. I went there to the bus depot and waited for a few minutes and then the bus arrived. I went to the airport by bus and it was quick and convenience. I arrived at the Montréal airport before noon and then it was still early for me to check-in. So, I went to the food store and bought a pita sandwich with French fries and a pop for my lunch. Still, I have to wait for a few more hours before the check-in, so I read a book and did some Sudoku.

Finally, I checked-in at the counter for Air France and the lady at the counter didn’t tell me that my flight from Montréal to Paris was delayed before I went to the security check. My flight should depart at 6pm, but I was waiting till 10pm and then we started to line up for boarding. There were so many people that were going to Paris, so we used the big air plane and the lined up was so long too.
Traditional Houses in TunisiaTraditional Houses in TunisiaTraditional Houses in Tunisia

The houses with windows painted in blue are famous around the world in Tunisia and these are some of them.
After all finished line up for the children and First class and then it came to my turn with the Economy Class. We waited for some minutes in the lift-car for someone who was behind us, but it was too hot inside because it was so packed. So, we were allowed to go out for the fresh air and then a few minutes later we all ready to go to the plane. We all transferred in one container that look the size of a train cargo that brought us up to the airbus plane (the huge one) and depending with the height of the plane and the train cargo-like car could be adjusted by lifting it. After all seated on the plane and it was ready to take-off around 11pm. By the way, at the lift-car, I asked two guys there about their destination and then they said “We’re going to Tunis (Tunisian capital).” And I said “Me too. I am going to visit my friends in Ezzahra, Tunisia.”. They said “Have a nice trip and it was nice to talk to you. By the way, this time there is a two weeks holiday for students.” I said “Good...Bye.” The
A bricklayerA bricklayerA bricklayer

He showed us how he makes the bricks and told us that he makes many per day.
guys that I met were scattered somewhere on the plane. When we were on the air, I tried to sleep and it was a meal time (a breakfast) after a few hours and then I ate my breakfast. After that, I went to sleep till I arrived in Paris, France.

On Saturday, 17th March, I arrived in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Finally, I arrived in Paris airport around 11am, so I missed my early flight at 7am and I was given a boarding pass for travelling at 7:10pm to Tunis, Tunisia. At the airport in Paris, I met the Tunisian guys again (the ones that I met in Montréal airport) and that they also missed their flight at 7am, but they had their boarding pass for travelling at 1:10pm. They told me that they went to talk to the person at the Service Information counter and the person at the counter gave them a boarding pass for travelling at 1:10pm. They told me to go to the counter and ask a person there to give me the early flight at 1:10pm, so I went there and the person at the counter told me that the flight is fully booked. She said “But, I’m going to put you on waiting list, so if someone is missing, you can get on the plane.” And I said “Yes, I would like to be on waiting list, please and thank you very much.” So, she gave me a boarding pass for 1:10 and then I waited for two hours. I went to the announcement at the gate to Tunis Carthage airport in Tunisia after everyone else has been gone to the bus express that transferred us to the plane. I gave my boarding pass to the one of the staff at the boarding gate and told him that I was on a waiting list and then he gave me a real boarding pass. After that, I passed line up and then went to the bus transfer and we were transferred to the plane. I was so happy that I was on the plane now because I didn’t want to be waiting for so long or many hours at the airport at that day or anywhere and anytime. Now, I am seated with full of Tunisian citizens and the two Tunisian guys that I met must be somewhere on the same plane.
Park in EzzahraPark in EzzahraPark in Ezzahra

We walked on Avenue Taieb Mhiri, we spotted the market and passed the train tracks of Ezzahra Lycée and then to the park called “Zahroor” It is very nice park with many things for kids to try like water slide, trains, horse jumping and also a place to rest at a kiosk by the park.

When I arrived in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia at the Tunis Carthage airport, I met the two Tunisian guys again and we said to each other “Bye... bye.” I went to the money exchange to change a Canadian dollar to Tunisian dinar and then I phoned the number that Oualid and Mouna gave me when we were in Swift Current, Saskatchewan Canada. A woman answered my phone call and it was Oualid’s mother and then I said “Muslim is calling. Is there Mouna or Oualid?” and then she said “Mouna... Mouna, Muslim.” So, I talked to Mouna finally and told her that I was arrived in Tunis and then she told me that she will tell Oualid. She said that, in a few minutes Oualid will be at the airport and told her that I’m waiting for him by the stairs that was close to the front door of the airport. A few minutes later, Oualid, Chantal and his brother, Kamel, who looked twin to me, came to pick me up at the airport. I was surprised that Oualid his brother, Kamel looks similar. After that, they asked me if I was too tired and that I need to
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

This is a huge airport in France.
rest, but I said “No, I’m not tired.” Then, we drove to the park by the Lac de Tunis (the Lake of Tunis) and park our car on the road side and we walked at the sidewalk by the lake. Many people also walked by the lake just to view and enjoy the day there.

We walked around the Flamingo Centre on Avenue Cheikh Zaied by the lake, many restaurant and people were there and kids playing in the park. As we walked to the end street of Ave. Cheikh Zaied, we continued walking to Rue du Lac Biwa where we spotted the house of Indonesian Ambassador. It is located on the street of Rue du Lac Biwa and between Rue du Lac Neuchatel and Rue du Lac de Constance. We also met an Indonesian guy by the gate of the ambassador’s house and we talked a bit. After that, we went home to put my suitcase and I met Oualid’s parents and two more of Oualid’s brothers, whom also look the same. We just drop off my suitcase and then we went to the old and historic Casa Tradicional de Dar el Annabi with so many nice things to see there in Sidi Bou Said. It was worth to visit. The cost to visit was 3DT500 (3 dinar and 500 milim or millimes) plus a glass of hot tea/person and we were four of us. At Sidi Bou Said, where we could enjoy the typical houses and it was so interesting. We went there till the day was getting darker and on the way we went to the big mosque; after that home time. The food was prepared for dinner and then we ate the food, after that we went to the living room to watch a TV. We brushed our teeth and then went to sleep.

On Sunday, 18th March, Kamel, Chantal and I went to take a walk to a park and beach. We walked on Avenue Taieb Mhiri, we spotted the market and passed the train tracks of Ezzahra Lycée and then to the park called “Zahroor” We passed the Souk du Jeudi de Ezzahra (a piece of land that used for a market on every Thursday) on Sunday, so we didn’t see any people there and then we continued to the park. We stopped at the park and chatted while we walked. At
Beach in EzzahraBeach in EzzahraBeach in Ezzahra

We walked together along the beach and we saw some fishermen and people around the beach, walking and jogging.
the park, there were many kids riding trains and horses that run circle. Some kids were playing at the waterslide (there was no water, but the kids could go up and down because it sloppy.) and some kids playing at the jumping. There was a vendor who sells toys for kids at the park and also there was a store for the kids when they are thirsty, they could buy a bottle of water, pop or anything. After we visiting the park we went out of the park through another exit on Rue Moufida Bourguiba and then met the street of Ave. Taeib Mhiri to the sea; it was about 5-10 minutes’ walk to the sea from Kamel’s house. At the sea, we saw fishermen and we checked what they catch at that day. We saw some people walking on the small road by the sea too. We walked by the seashore and we found many dead and empty shells all around and then we picked some of the ones that dried because some were still newly dead those were so stinky smell.

Kamel told us everything around. We walked to his friend, who lives by the see too and then we went inside his friend’s house for tea. We chatted a little bit and then we continued to walk by the sea. On the street by the sea, we met people, the two Tunisian guys that I met in Montréal and Paris and now here in Ezzahra. They said “Hey, you again. You have following us from Montréal to Paris and now in Ezzahra and may be late at my house.” And then I said “Yeah may be.” After that, I introduced them to Kamel and Chantal and I told Kamel and Chantal that I met these people on the way from Montréal. We were surprised to see each other again and we were laughing. After we talked a bit and then we went to visit another place and it was a store. Around there, Kamel phoned Oualid to pick us up and then there was a guy in the car with Oualid. The guy is also Oualid and Kamel’s friend that the brother of Kamel’s friend that we went a few minutes ago and the guy was a good at tourism. We went home with the guy and from there we made the plan to visit the desert in Tozeur. The guy asked us about how many days left visiting Tunisia and then the answered was eight days left. So, he (the guy) told us a little bit overview about Tunisia and then he asked us about what we want to see and do for the rest of our vacation in Tunisia. We told him that we want to see the desert and ride a camel too. He told us that 3 nights was a good enough to be in Tozeur for the adventures. He knew a guy at the hotel in Tozeur and very good hotel there for us during the stay in Tozeur. He said the hotel is new and that has all the amenities such as a meeting and conference room, fitness centre, indoor and outdoor pool, and etc. So, Chantal and I agreed for the plan and Oualid and the guy phoned the hotel and it was all booked for us. We stayed at a hotel called “Hotel Framissima La Palmeraie”.

The place to stay in Tozeur is booked, but now we need to talk about how we are going to go there, by plane, train, bus or car. Chantal and I were thinking to use a plane for five of us, Kamel, Oualid, Mouna, Chantal and me and one of us said “It’s expensive.” And then, thinking of using a train and then one said “It’s too bumpy.”. Chantal and I would like to go Tozeur by the train, but Kamel, Oualid and Mouna wanted to use the car that they already rented. So finally, we decided to take our car to go to Sfax on Tuesday, March 20th for Mouna to visit her parents and then continued later to Tozeur, Kamel, Oualid, Chantal and me. We had lunch together with the guy and then we went to his place to pick up some books about tourism. After that, we went to the Boukornine National Park where there are two big domes for sightseeing. We walked around a little bit and then it was dark, the sun went to sleep. We went back home, we drove the guy to his house and then we continued to our place. We ate dinner together, Kamel, Oualid, Chantal and me and then went to the living room and then we went to bed.

On Monday, 19th March, at 7:30am, Oualid, Chantal and I went to the train station at the Ezzahra Lycée to visit some professors of Oualid and his former classmates at the INRAT, the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique de Tunisie in Sidi Bou Said. About 20 minutes later, we arrived at the Research Station there, we met many people, include professors and PhD students. Oualid met his classmates and his professors and they were so happy to see him. Chantal and I also were very happy to see the professors and other students at the Research Station in Sidi Bou Said. The professors, showed us around, we went to see the lab, the greenhouse and also we visited the director of the Research Station at the reception. After that, we went to a restaurant to have lunch together there because we were too hungry. They told us that the place where we ate lunch was full of trees and now full of building instead. Finally, we visited a quite long at the INRAT and then we said “Bye, bye.” to each other at the restaurant. We went back on the train and then stopped at the central park in Tunis, where the demonstration occurred in the mid-December 2010 and early January 2011.

We walked a lot down here. We went to some carpet stores and check for prices because we planned to buy one for Oualid’s parent for a gift. We also visited some other kinds of store for souvenir, there were so many nice things for souvenir but we didn’t want to buy too many things and then we have to bring all of them back to Canada if we buy a lot. We walked through stores, allies and both allies have many stores with different things that people were selling. So, we just checked a few things, including carpets. We knew now the prices of carpets approximately and we checked also the prices of carpet at different places, to give an idea how much its cost. We went back home because it was getting dark and we needed to be in shaped for tomorrow’s adventure. We have to travel all way from Ezzahra to Sfax and the next day to Tozeur for many hours of travelling. So, we need to sleep well. We ate dinner together again with Kamel, Oualid, Chantal and I and then we went to sleep. We made our suitcase about what to wear
Taking a walk by the lakeTaking a walk by the lakeTaking a walk by the lake

I just arrived here in Tunis and Chantal and Oualid with his brother, Kamel came to picked me up at the airport. After that we took walks around the capital city of Tunisia. This photo was taken at the Lac de Tunis with very nice view.
later in Tozeur for 3 nights, so we took our stuff not too many cloths because we didn’t want to get overloaded with clothes that we will wear later.

On Tuesday, 20th March, at around 9am, Chantal and I went to the sea to take a fresh air and walk too. We took different route and we tried to remember how to get back later, at the end we did without getting lose. We went to take a walk for a half day before we leave for Sfax around noon. Everyone was ready. Kamel, Oualid, Mouna, Chantal and I were hurried, put our stuff at the back of the car and then everyone was in the car. We said “Bye.” to the parents. Kamel was driving all the way to Sfax and also the next day to Tozeur, it was long trip. When we entered the highway, each time we have to pay for the highway tax about 1DT200 and some three times. We stopped to buy a coffee and to washroom too and then we continued to hitting the road. A few hours later, we arrived at El Djem, so we have driven about 200km from home, so
The Clock - Tunisian RevolutionThe Clock - Tunisian RevolutionThe Clock - Tunisian Revolution

Tunisian revolution was held here at the clock park and I found the remaining of the barb wires beside the trees.
it was nice that we stopped by and checked the important building in El Djem. The town’s great landmark is the amphitheatre, the largest Roman building in North Africa, whose walls rise high above the surrounding houses. From whatever direction you approach El Djem, the amphitheatre is the first thing that catches your eyes. Every Mondays, there are busy local markets and every summer, musical performance is given in the amphitheatre.

So, that was why we wanted to see this historical building, but unfortunately, it wasn’t our luck to see it inside because it was closed. We saw many kids wearing their out fits and they were the scout students and also some people watched the kids. They played games and enjoyed the day. Someone was there to help us to open the gate by calling someone inside the amphitheatre, but no luck either. So, we went around the amphitheatre and took some pictures of it from outside. At 7pm, we continued to Sfax and it was another hour to go. We arrived in Sfax at Mouna’s parents’ house and then we had dinner. After the dinner, Kamel, Oualid, Chantal and I went to our hotel is Sfax. It was late to check-in, about 9pm, Chantal and I filled the hotel’s form about how long to stay in that hotel. We went to take the elevator to third floor and we arrived at our hotel room. After that, Kamel and Oualid gave their cell phone number for an emergency wise and then we said “Good night.” to each other and tomorrow morning at anytime they will come to pick us up at the hotel because they didn’t stay at the hotel, they stayed at Mouna’s parents’ house. The city of Sfax is the most extensive olive-growing area in Tunisia. It is the country’s largest city after Tunis and economic centre of southern Tunisia.

On Wednesday, 21st March, we woke up at 7am and had a shower and then got ready to have a breakfast in the main floor. After that, we went back to our room and brushed our teeth. The phone rang and I answered the phone, it was Oualid calling from the hotel lobby around 8am and then Chantal and I went down stair to the lobby. We checked-out and paid the hotel about 80DT for the night. We put our suitcase into the trunk of the car at the back and we leave the car’s doors shut and then we walked away to the markets. I knew what was the strong smell that came to our noses and the when we entered the market; it was full of fish with all sizes. Lamb meats were also there and we went all the way out with full of vendors selling all kind of goods, including spices. At the fish market, it has walls that were old or ancient walls and they look like a castle walls. We walked again to different corridors with full of vendors selling their products and they were so beautiful products. I tried also the custom of local people and they are call “Berber(s).”. Many adults Tunisian men were wearing a red hat on their heads and women were wearing long dresses during our visit in Tunisia. Chantal and I bought one of the Berber’s cloths to wear at home in Canada.

At noon, we went back to the car from the shopping or touring in the old town of Sfax and then we continued to Tozeur. After we drove for about 3 hours, we stopped at a restaurant that didn’t have a menu, but only lamb meats and there was something else too and for sure breads (baguette) that people eat with olive oils. We ate lots of meats and then, I was too full with it. Two hours later, we saw many camel signs beside the roads in the desert. There were mountain walls too that we saw them from the highway, but that was far and couldn’t see that well. It was beautiful anyway with the nature. On the road, we saw many camels a hundred metres away behind us with their babies, so we stopped there and took our pictures. They were so cute, I liked to see them again in real. That trip was my first time I saw the real camels in my life because I don’t travel much to a desert places in the world. Finally, we arrived at Tozeur around 7pm. We went to our hotel to check-in at hotel Framissima La Palmeraie and there was a welcome drink. So, were so happy to be arrived because we were tired of driving and being in the car too and also we were thirsty. We drunk our drink portion and then return the glasses on the table where it was. Only Chantal and I were checking-in in the hotel and Oualid and Kamel were staying at their friends. It was okay that they stayed at their friends or it would be better to stay at the same hotel too for sure. After that, Oualid and Kamel were waiting for us at the lobby to be back from our hotel room. We came down to see them again after we put our things in our room. We made plans for our visit in Tozeur and Chantal and I had four days and three nights and it should be the same days for them too, if they liked it. But they left one day ahead of us. It was good anyway to have their company with us. So, the plan that we went to see the tourism office information and the guy’s name was Med Ali, who booked our excursions for two days and each day was different places to visit. We paid the excursions for four of us and also each the excursions cost differently. Total cost for all was 588DT. After that, Kamel and Oualid left us alone because they have to go to their friends’ house to sleep.

On Thursday, 22nd March, before our excursion started at 2pm for a half day tour, we had a tour around in the town of Tozeur by a horse-cart drawn. We went outside of the hotel and there were a few owners of horse-carts drawn, who were waiting for the people to take them for a tour or just to go to downtown. So, we were stopped by one of them and a guy called his horse “Jacqueline” and then later we used “Jacqueline” for transportation during the visit in Tozeur. These horse-carts drawn are used for local and as well as tourists for transportation around the town, but there were other kinds of transportation such as, quads and taxis. There were quads parking outside the hotel where we stayed and probably by other hotels too, they should have around for tourists, but there were taxis and horse-carts drawn everywhere as well. We were four of us, Kamel, Oualid, Chantal and I jumped to the horse-cart draw and then we went to Belvédère Rocks. On the way to the rocks, we saw hot springs and that was nice. We checked the water and it was nice and hot. From here, a camel owner came and asked if we want to climb up to a camel and have a ride with it. The camel had a leash, so that the owner could walk and direct the camel. So, Oualid jumped onto the camel and then he and the camel owner walked together to the Belvédère rocks. Another guy came with a camel too toward us and asked if we want to have a ride with the camel. We asked each other about who wanted to climb up and then Kamel and Chantal said that I should go. So, I climbed onto the camel and we walked to the Belvédère rocks and met Oualid there. Chantal took pictures of Oualid and me riding the camels. After a few minutes of camel ride and then we went back to Jacqueline and continued our tour to Palmerie Park. The Belvédère Rocks was very nice to experience to see the high rocks that have face sculptures carved into the granite faces like those face sculptures of former United States presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincolnat the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. From the top of the Belvédère, we could see fine view of the town, the oasis and the surrounding desert.

After our visit at the Belvédère rocks, we went to the Palmerie Park. It was very nice, so green and we found many palm-date trees with their fruits. We also saw banana trees with their fruits. We passed the Chak-Wak Park, a dinosaur park, but it was closed when we passed it, so we continued. We stopped at a museum called “Eden Palm Les Trésors de L’oasis” in the middle of palm trees and then we went in. We paid the museum fees and then we had a guide that explained about the palm trees from beginning of the history of palm trees till present day. At the museum, there was a laboratory for the jams making and then the guide, she explained the process of the jams and what kinds they could make and there was also a café by the lab. The guide gave us try out the jams with a few kinds; there was a chocolate, strawberry, apple, honey, and etc. After that, we went back to Jacqueline for another tour to Médina. An old town, where we checked for carpets and also we wanted to know the price of carpets because we want to buy one for gifts to the parents of Oualid back in Ezzahra, near Tunis. We checked for carpets and its prices in Tunis, Sfax and Tozeur too, but we didn’t buy then. At around 1pm, we went back to the hotel before our tour begins at 2pm and also we didn’t want to be late for the tour.

At 2pm, we were all seated and headed to Chébika, where we saw oasis in the middle of desert surrounded by big mountain rocks. After we drove about 1 hour by Safari car, we arrived at Chébika and we visited the oasis and also there were many local people selling their products to tourists for souvenirs. We rested there for a few minutes for toilet and waited for others and then we continued to a town, Tamerza around 4pm. Actually, we stopped at a store on top of the mountain and we rested there for few minutes and then we passed the town of Tamerza. After that we continued to a town, Midès, an ancient town that today is abandoned and here we view the canyons. The town is about 500 miters away from the Algerian frontier. We went back to the car and then headed to our hotel. Kamel and Oualid went back to their friend’s house and we went to our room in the hotel. At 8pm, we went to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner and then we slept.

On Friday, Mar 23rd, “Le Lézard Rouge” – Cost: 50 DT/pax. Early in the morning, Chantal and I got up and went down to the main floor for breakfast. After breakfast, we went up to brush our teeth and to get ready for the tour in Metlaoui, a town southwest of Tunisia. As always, I already fully charge my camera battery every night before going to bed. So there, I was. I took my camera and we went down to meet Kamel and Oualid in the lobby and all of us were there to get ready for the “Le Lézard Rouge” ½ day tour, which started at 8a.m. We drove from our hotel in Tozeur to a town called “Metlaoui” and it was about 1:30 minutes by car. After we arrived in this town 45km south of Tozeur, we climbed
Coliseum in El DjemColiseum in El DjemColiseum in El Djem

Outside the majestic Roman coliseum in El Jem, Tunisia
the train called “LR – Lézard Rouge” a train, but we were too early to get into the train. So, Kamel and Oualid went to buy a bottle of water to drink and also spent a few minutes outside the train. As we saw many people flocking to the train and it was fully pack, then the train made its bells to call people that – Let’s go guy it’s time to get out of here and let’s start the beautiful journey. We were all seated and some were standing by the train’s windows and also some people were standing by the train’s connection to each other. For sure, there were decks with stairs around the connections, so the people could stand and look out and take pictures if they want too. After we travelled for some minutes, we could see the mountains and then the formation of Selja gorges as we passed through the tunnels. Every time we passed the tunnels people screamed because inside the train was dark and then we stopped scream when we were out of the tunnels. We were given to stop three times at different places ‘good places’ to view the canyons and to take pictures or videos. Here at the end of the destination (10km west of Metlaoui and 1:45 minutes by the train), was a place where the first deposits of phosphates were discovered by Phillippe Thomas during French colonial time in Tunisia and that he was given the Le Lézard Rouge, so he could use the train for his transportation back and forth in 1940 by the French government. These days, the train is use just for tourists and locals for the transportation to see the gorges and canyons of Metlaoui. The train went back to Metlaoui and then we all scattered to find our group and then back to the hotel.

Kamel and Oualid have planned to go to see a parade and also show in Nefta. It lies on GP 3, a small town of Nefta lies in its oasis (area 1,100 hectares) 25km southwest of Tozeur, 113km southwest of Gafsa and about 36km east of the Algerian frontier, on the western edge of the Chott El Jérid. It is the market centre of Tunisia’s most westerly oasis, with a busy market on Wednesdays. Its inhabitants earn their living from oasis agriculture (over 400,000 date-palms, including 70,000 which produce the high quality deglat en nour or “finger of light” date), trade and craft productions. Nefta is famed for its carpet makers, its silk weaving and its potters. Corbeille de Nefta. We stopped at this picturesque scenery and we went down a little bit, but didn’t go to the pool. We went to downtown and had lunch. After that, we saw the parade. We watched the parade for some minutes and then continued to another town called Hazoua where there was a show. The village of Hazoua where the dates – palm trees are grown is situated in the Southwest of Tunisia near the border of Algeria, in the north of the famous salt lake called Chott el Jerid. Here about 600 families are living, former nomads who have been settled there during the last 40 years, as their living could not be assured any more by the traditional nomadic animal husbandry. When we arrived at Hazoua, we saw many people gathering around to see the show. It was so many people and many different shows to see. We are glad to be there for the show.
Our friends, Kamel and Oualid asked the cameraman to interview us about the show and why we are here and then they came to us for the interview. I didn’t see any tourists around the show here since it was not the peak season for tourist to come to Tunisia. The sun went down a bit by bit and we didn’t finish seeing the show. Instead we went to a store for souvenir. They sell many things, but most notably is handmade crafts such us carpets, toys, pots and etc. Chantal and I bought a few of those carpets, cushions and jewelleries with the help from Oualid, who was also the bargainer. At the store, we met the mayor of Tozeur, who came to the show as well and Kamel and Oualid introduced the mayor to Chantal. After we finished at the store, we went outside and saw many people already back home from the show that was finished at about 7pm. It was just beginning to get dark when we went back home to Tozeur, it’s about 55km. On the road, we were stopped by the police, who check people crossing the frontiers between Tunisia and Algeria because from Hazoua, Tunisia to the Algerian frontier is about 3.70km and the police checked us to see if we bring something illegal items from Algeria. After that, we continued on the road to Tozeur. I said to the drive, Kamel to watch-out for anything crossing the road like camels or people walking by the road or cars or motorbikes that don’t have lights on and he said “yes”. A few minutes later, we saw the camel from miles away. As we approached it, it was just a sign and we all laughed after we slowed down for the sign. On the road, we have seen many motorbikes without lights on as well as cars which have only one eye (light) on. Anyway, it was interesting trips. The Festival de Hazoua is held every year and we were lucky to see this one.
We arrived at the hotel and Kamel and Oualid said “Good bye and see you in Tunis” to us because they have to go back to their friend’s house and also they have to leave Tozeur by the next morning. We are glad that they came and enjoyed our company for the adventures in Tozeur because all of us never seen the desert before and as well as to meet the camel. We didn’t want Kamel and Oualid going back at night because we didn’t want something to happen to them on the night road trip, so that was the reason to take them for the tour. Anyway, they left to their friend’s house and only us together in the hotel. When we arrived at our hotel room, we saw our bed cleaned and towel-bird decoration was on the bed, which was so nice and pretty. After we put out our belongings that we bought in Hazoua, which some of our belonging also in the trunk of the car that Kamel and Oualid take home to Tunis. They didn’t go directly to their home in Ezzahra Lycée, Tunis but they went to Sfax where Oualid’s wife Mouna was there at her parent’s house for visit. We went to our second last supper at the La Palmeraie Hotel and then we went to bed.

On Saturday, Mar 24th, “Free Day”. We got up and went to our second last breakfast and we got ready for the day. We started our day by going to see how the local people make brake for their house and the guy, who makes the brakes, he also makes pots. He explained how he makes the brakes and how many he can make per day. It was unintentionally that we get stopped by the owner of the horse-drawn-cart that usually parked his horse outside the hotel where we stayed at. Anyway, we had the deal about how much we have to pay him for the half-day tour. Though as always, we need to be good at bargaining. There we are, he said that 50 DT and then he said between 30 to 40 DT as we like to give to him. This price was too high, but we were so generous to him anyway. We gave the 40 DT instead for the tour. We went for our last tour in Tozeur. We went to see local made brakes, medina – to buy carpet and then to the bus depot to buy two bus tickets to travel at night to Tunis because tomorrow is our last day in Tozeur. The bus tickets for us was 48,280 DT (24,140 DT/person for one way), which was leaving for Sunday at 11:30pm. Finally, we bought a very nice carpet for the gift to Kamel and Oualid’s parents because they hosted us during our visit in Tunisia. The family were so nice to us. The carpet cost was 800 DT.
After the tour with the same tour guide that we used since we are in Tozeur for the first day, we went to the outdoor pool in the hotel, which was so nice. The weather was so hot still at about 4pm, but the water in the pool was cool; it was like swimming at the beach at the Saskatchewan Landing Park in August. It was nice anyway that we swam in the pool and we were lonely in the water, though some people (tourists) were lying on the long chairs that specialized around beaches or pools. This was nice with nobody to disturb us in the water. We read a book for some minutes and then we went to our hotel room to change. At around 8pm, we were outside by the pool to enjoy the night fall. And then, we saw some people came out by the hotel’s restaurant to eat their food because it was supper time. Some people were eating inside the restaurant and some outside the restaurant. We could not insist to eat our last supper at the restaurant, so we went in to the restaurant and ate our food. The food serve in the hotel’s restaurant was always buffet style, either for breakfast and supper. After dinner, we went to bed and as always charged my battery for the next day.

On Sunday, Mar 25th, “another Free Day”. Our last day in Tozeur. After we all packed our things last night and in this morning, we went down stair to the lobby and paid our stays because we had to check-out before 12 noon. We put our luggage at the hotel’s reception without a fee, so that was nice because where should we put our luggage beside at the bus depot. So, we asked the hotel receptionist at the lobby to see if we can put our luggage at the reception because we will be back here at the hotel for the tour which was supposed to be start at 7pm. We asked this question the previous night and they said “yes” we can put the luggage with them. We paid our three nights stay at the reception before we left for the tour around the town. The hotel was very nice and it has all the amenities like restaurant, ballroom, conference room, bar, fitness centre, tennis court, indoor and outdoor pools, and etc.
We told Med Ali, who was the guy that book people if they are interesting to go for a tour at the Tourism Office that located in the hotel La Palmeraie that we were interested to see the musician who telling a story or story teller at 7:30pm. Med Ali said that if there are enough people, then we can go, but if not then we don’t go. So, he gave us his business phone number # 97-405-009 and that we can call him any time soon. We went around the town by foot, about here and there. We had lunch at where Med Ali told us the best restaurant, so we went. We didn’t phone him, instead we went to the hotel and later told us that the plan is cancelled because there were not enough people to go with. Anyway, the time went by. At about 8:45pm, we went to another restaurant that he recommended and it was very nice restaurant too. So, we ate supper there and then we went to the bus depot for our trip to Tunis. At 11:15pm, our bus came and then, we went to the bus and find our seat. It was early to jump to the bus, which was very nice, so we found our seat, and a few minutes later; more people came on the bus and then it was full of people. Finally, we left Tozeur at 11:30pm and we were on the bus to Tunis. A few hours later, in the middle of our destination, we stopped at once and many people went off the bus for snack or pee or rest for a few minutes and then we continued to Tunis. About 8 hours drive, the bus arrived in Tunis around 7am.
On Monday, Mar 26th, “Back to Tunis”. We went off the bus at the bus depot in Tunis; someone came to us, asking if we need a ride to our destination. So, we said “to Ezzahra Lycée” and then asked him to wait for us because we have to go to the toilet. He came again to find us and then he grabbed our luggage and directed us to his car. I thought, he was a taxi driver, but what he did was kind of illegal. It was so strange anyway. We asked him, how much the fair to go to Ezzahra and he said anything. After, we seated, we asked him again about the fair ahead of time because he was not or we were not with a taxi driver that has a meter reading and for sure he didn’t have a meter for the fair. So, he said 20 DT while we were on the road and later on, we arrived in Ezzahra. We told him to stop at the train station because I remember the place if I was stopped there, but we stopped at the wrong train station. So, we asked him to find the place and he didn’t know, he asked someone to come along with us and then finally, we arrived at the house of Kamel and Oualid’s family. The driver, asked us to pay the guy who showed us the place and then we were so mad at him because he already rape us off. We gave 20 DT already, where we were told “It’s about 15 DT from Tunis to Ezzahra by the taxi and now he asked us to pay the guy, so we screamed that early morning at him and then he left right away.
That day, we arrived too early and we didn’t want to wake-up everyone at Oualid’s parents’ house, so we went to the “Le Salon de Thé”, a teahouse shop (like, a coffeehouse) where we could find only men come and enjoy the day with their friends here in Tunisia. I guest only men allowed to go to the Salon de thé because what we have seen were only men, but we went there anyway; people were watching us that was fine with us. After we are done at the teahouse shop, we bought some oranges and brought back to the house. When we arrived at the house, Kamel and Oualid’s father was there to open the gate for us and asked us to drink tea or coffee. After that, we went to the beach to wonder around and then we also went to the Zahroor Park till we waited for Kamel, Oualid and Mouna to be arrived from Sfax around noon.
Later, they arrived at home and then we had another plan, to go to Qurbus or some written like Korbous (it depend what the sources are from). It is in the northeast of Tunis and the panoramic was so very nice. It is about 30km east of Ezzahra. We went here to see the thermal springs (hot spring that goes to the Gulf of Tunis) with their father and it was good to have come. The hot springs was very nice thing to see and it was hot really when I touched. The hot springs water run to the sea and local people believe that it is good if you swim around or bathe around the waterfall. It’s good to heal your body if you have body ach and etc. We passed the town of Korbous and then went to the end of the road by the sea, but we were far on the cliff, which was very nice view. We went to the restaurant at the end of the road and chatted there a bit and then we went to town centre. We walked around the town and by the sea for some minutes. We saw some kids playing soccer; a few
Belvédère Rocks in TozeurBelvédère Rocks in TozeurBelvédère Rocks in Tozeur

Familiar with all the faces? Maybe not.
people were fishing and saw people walking, seating by the sea. This place was lower than where we are at the restaurant. So, it was nicer to see the sea. It was getting darker, so we went back home and arrived safely.
On Tuesday, Mar 27th, visit Lobna in Nabeul-Hammamet. It was our last full day in Tunisia, so we had arranged a time to visit Lobna, who was a student came to our house few years ago in Canada. As always, we stopped a certain highway tax collectors and paid about 1,200 DT/stop and sometimes get stop two times, it depends where. As we arrived in Yasmine Hammamet, we went to the harbor of Hammamet and we saw many boats parked at the dock arena. We scrolled all the way by the harbor and then to the park by the road. The park was so nice with many palm trees and we walked by the beach. We saw some tourists lying on the long chairs, but not too many because it was not a peak season to visit Tunisia this time of month. We didn’t go to all the coasts of Tunisia for tourism, but we went to one of the biggest tourism sectors in Nabeul-Hammamet and other important touristique places, such as Sousse-Monasti-Mahdia, Djerba-Zarzis, and Tunis-Zaghouan. These sectors are popular mainly on the east coast of Tunisia. After that, we went the other places and walked around the stores, building and etc. After we had enough of touring around Yasmine Hammmamet, we went to Lubna’s house. We phone her that we arrived in Nabeul and we will meet at the park. So, we saw her came with her friend approaching us and then we went to her house by the car that we used to travel with.
We arrived at Lobna’s house and we met there her mother and two sisters that they were waiting for us to arrive. They were happy when we introduce ourselves to everyone. The house was big and fancy with Tunisian-home style. We were given a glass of juice to each of us and chatted for while. For some minutes later, we were called to go to the dining room to eat Tunisian food, couscous, which was delicious food and then we went back to the living room after we finished eating. We sat in the living room and then we all taken our picture together. Tea and dessert was brought in to us and then we drank and ate the food. After that, we went out to see some good stores for souvenirs. Tunisia has many good things for souvenirs when we traveled there. There are so many nice and beautiful crafts, such as ceramic plates, bowls and etc., wooden plates, bowls and etc., key chains, bags, carpets, and etc. All of the souvenirs are one hundred percent handmade. We bought some crafts like ceramic bowl and door numbers for us to put the door number pretty soon and our friends Oualid and Mouna bought some for souvenir too. After the day was getting dark, we went back to drive back Lobna to her home and then we continued driving to Ezzahra, where we came from. We arrived at home, we ate dinner and then Chantal and I packed our suitcases nicely for tomorrow morning flight back to Canada. Oualid and Mouna have their weight measurer, so we borrowed it from them to measure our suitcases and then everything was okay. After that, we brushed our teeth and then set up our alarm clock as early as 5am to catch the flight at 8:05am because we don’t want to get late to check-in at the Air France counter.
On Wednesday, Mar 28th, “Back to Canada”. The alarm clock rang, so that’s meant we have to get up, so we did get up. We dressed and made ourselves good looking for the travelling and then checked what else needed to be done. Mouna woke up and prepared for a quick breakfast for us and then Oualid woke up too because he is going to drive us to the airport of Tunis-Carthage International Airport. We all had a breakfast and then we were ready to the airport. We put our suitcases in the back of the car and then pressed the gas to the airport. On the way to the airport, it was foggy but we managed to be on time at the check-in. Oualid parked his car and then came to see us again at the check-in of Air France and he made sure that everything was alright to us. After that, we said “Good Bye; thanks him for everything; and see you in Canada again” to him. The flight was on time from Tunis to Paris, France and then we waited for a few hours. After that, we were ready to depart at 1:55pm to Toronto. We arrived normally in Toronto and then we had to go through the custom (the fun stuff); we passed the security without checking our stuff. We had to go to take a train to transfer us to another terminal that has Calgary connection. When we arrived there we went to the counter to check-in at Air Canada. At the counter, the lady told us that the flight is delayed, so we went to the gate for Calgary connection and we found it. We asked someone again about our delayed flight at the gate and she told us the same thing. So, we waited for few hours and at the same time we had choices, either to stay in a hotel in Toronto or in Calgary. There were two flights, one departed at 7pm and the other at 10pm. The flights that depart at 7pm go to Calgary and have space for us and the other at 10pm goes direct to Regina, but no seat-fully booked. So, we have to choose one of them. We chose the first flight to Calgary and then when we arrived in Calgary airport, the staff from Air Canada gave us papers about the hotel with the instruction that the Air Canada provided us for. So, we took that papers and then we went to claim our luggage in the lower floor. When we arrived at the luggage claim area, Chantal went to the toilet and I heard that our names was called through the intercom that a flight to Regina was waiting for us and they told us to hurry up to the gate. Chantal went out of the toilet and then we went up to the main floor and find our way to the security check. We arrived at the security check, we asked everyone to give us permission to go through the security first because we were in hurried that the plane was waiting for us. Finally, we were so happy that we were on the plane to go to Regina and that we didn’t stay in a hotel in Calgary.
On Thursday, Mar 29th, “Back to Swift Current”. Finally, we arrived in Regina airport around mid-night and then we claimed our luggage. We went to washroom to get ready to our car and then to Swift Current. We found our car and paid the parking for over a week the car was parked at the airport parking lot. We left Regina to Swift Current and it took us few hours. We stopped in Moose Jaw for coffee to wake us up and to keep us driving safely. We arrived at home and our cats were so happy to see us again. We went to bed and slept in because that day was my last vacation at the Living Sky Casino. When we woke up, we put thing in order and washed our cloths. We checked our things in the house, the indoor plants, and the cats and clean the house. We were so happy that we finally arrived at our own house and everyone was so happy too like the cats and the plants. The vacation in Tunisia was so awesome. We really enjoyed it and we had many memories now. The family of Oualid was so nice to us. We enjoyed our visit to these nice places Ezzahra, Tunis, Nabeul-Hammamet, Sfax and Tozeur.

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