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Published: November 30th 2009
We arrived in Tunis, capital of Tunisia, late on Tuesday night because of dreadful weather at Heathrow. Though only a few hours behind schedule it gave us no time to orientate ourselves. Instead we just took a taxi from Tunis Carthage airport to the Hotel Ariha
, unpacked a few things and turned in for the night. Our French isn’t up to much so far and we ended up speaking Spanish to the taxi driver and broken English at the hotel!!
On Wednesday morning we got our first taste of croissants for breakfast with some cheese and turkey salami. There was to be little variety over the 4 days we stayed in Tunis! Afterwards it was time to go and meet our new employers, Amideast
, an American NGO with whom Russ will be teaching at regional airports whilst Trish teaches at their centre in Sousse. It was a very interesting day and we met so many people. Hopefully we can remember a few of their names when we see them next!!
Thursday was Thanksgiving. Being Brits, we don’t really know what it’s all about. Still, with our employers closing for the day, it gave us a chance to be tourists. We
went off to explore the ruins of Carthage, and you can read about that in our next blog. In the evening we found the excellent Cafe de Paris
where we feasted on delightful couscous and drank some delicious Tunisian red wine.
Friday was the first day of the Eid al-Adha holiday. It’s also known as Eid al-Kebir, Gurban Bayram (in Azerbaijan), the feast of the sacrifice, or the feast of Abraham / Ibrahim. Basically, it commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son for his faith, only to have divine intervention putting a lamb in his son’s place. Throughout the Muslim world the act of sacrifice is repeated with blood running through the streets - yuk! The gory photos have been placed at the end of the photo queue to spare those who don’t wish to see them!
Here in Tunisia the Eid is a 2 day holiday. Other countries take 3 or 4 days, maybe even a whole week off work! What it meant for us was deserted streets, no public transport and a dearth of options for dinner. Still, it was nice to walk through an empty city with no danger of being run over
by a taxi. We managed to find a cafe in the centre to sip mint tea and watch the world go by. There are certainly some colourful characters around.
is the ancient centre of Tunis. At its heart is the Zaytouna Mosque and all the narrow streets lead to it. More or less. We DID manage to get lost! It was fascinating to wander around the labyrinth of lanes, and we’re not sure if it was beneficial or not to have nobody hassling us or crowds to push through. We’ll have to go back on a busy day to make a comparison. The architecture is beautiful and the people are very friendly. It just wasn’t a good day for sheep! We saw them everywhere we turned and, whilst we didn’t actually see the act of sacrifice itself, we bore witness to enough butchering and the bizarre ritual of burning the head and feet. The blacksmiths didn’t have the day off as this appeared to be their role for the day. We did see rivers of blood though, and hopefully we avoided stepping in them at all times.
So that was our experience of Tunis, somewhat subdued
by the emptiness of the holiday. On Saturday we took the train to Sousse to begin the next leg of our adventure.
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