On a day trip to Monastir...at wall of Medina
Wow, I have just returned from my 4th trip to Tunisia my second home!
The information on my World Nomads page says I have been to Algeria and Morocco but I have not yet, I only wanted to go, and even planned to but I have found that not all travel plans work out and that you have to be flexible and have a Plan B! Anyway I do not know how to change my World Nomads so it does not say Algeria and Morocco, I have tried!!! Right now I am sitting with a henna tatoo on my left hand and henna stain on my fingers, the Berber way, I should have photographed it before it faded. A lovely tradition the putting of henna in a certain pattern on the hands and feet. On other visits to Tunisia, I had also the harghous, which is black and inky and put on with a flat needle like metal painting device. Yes it was sterilised first, by making it red hot, so hope that killed any bugs. It does not penetrate the skin but is smoothed on, painted. Also behind me on my shelf is a harghous pot. All these reminders of Tunisia, remind me that I am not there. My husband is Tunisian, and I ended up not going to the Sahara as planned, or like I mentioned above, not going to Algeria or Morocco, those proposed trips just did not happen.Regarding Algeria, I left it too late to apply for a visa, as you have to send your passport to the Algerian Embassy in Australia and I did not think about all the closing days at that time of year which was near Christmas and I calculated that even using express post, that my passport might not come back in time due to all the public holidays. It was my mistake and I just did not realise until too late. Honestly there was not one spare day to allow for the delays that can occur over Christmas and was only 10 days left when you took out all the holidays, so it was cutting it too fine. Then I would have stressed out about my passport and worried that it may not come. Anyway I have made myself at home in Tunisia. From the very first time I was in Tunisia, when I was alone and had time to walk around and enjoy all the pinky red bouganvillea flowers cascading up and down houses and walls, together with the smell of oleanders, jasmine and frangipani among other plants and the sight of the quaint white houses, mostly flat roofed, with the lovely blue metal screens on the windows...Then the doors....Honestly I had so much fun, just photographing the doors, doorways and other buildings. Love the ribats, forts, medina walls. The faded sand coloured medina walls are just incredible and for example if you are at the Monastir beach, you look and there's the big old fort. I travelled around happily and safely by myself sometimes, on the train, bus or shared taxi (louage) and never once felt unsafe or uncomfortable. Once when going from A to B to meet up with my friend Sana, I had a very heavy backpack and other bags and a young soldier helped me to lift my pack to the luggage holder above. Also people were very helpful with Arabic instruction and glad to share, as I showed an interest in learning. Still I have only a few words but it is growing. Meeting my husband was unexpected and since meeting him, my travels of course have involved returning to visit him and his family. Because of the Jasmine Revolution I could not return in March or April like I wanted to and then because of work, I had to wait until June before I was free to go back. Also I did not want to travel near election time, just my own personal choice. The Tunisian election was going to be in July but now is postponed until October. If I can possibly return in September I will, INCHALLAH. Tunisia is an amazing country and because its almost impossible for a Tunisian to get a tourist visa to Australia, but hopefully this may change, because of this, I have to return there. Of course there are other countries, we can both visit but by visiting my husband in his country, I can also see his family and friends. He has a big extended family, I mean related to lots of people in his village and its really nice to be with his Baba, Mima and sisters. We go visit other relatives and also have our favourite places we like to go to such as Takrouna, the sacred rock. I will try to sort out my photos a bit better and label them so people who view the photos can see what is what. Also I will one day as soon as possible put information up about my part of the world in Australia. I used to travel, just using a Sony Cybershot phone but recently got a digital camera to keep a better photo record of everything and more importantly for our wedding! If you have questions about Tunisia, I will try to answer or point you in the right direction for the information. I am not an authority or expert but have family and friends there and have mostly travelled in the Central; Sahel and Tell regions and also Cap Bon, particularly El Houaria. I have not been yet to the Sahara region or even to Djerba which is also popular. Twice I have stayed at Port El Kantaoui, twice I have stayed in Sousse on two different visits, in a rented villa off the Corniche which is a great idea and also at the Hotel de Paris near the Medina rampart on two visits. A very clean and secure Hotel. I camped on the beach at El Houaria and went to the Hawking Festival that some Gulf Princes attend. Have climbed as many mountains as possible, they are small thankfully. Climbing El Houaria was almost too much for me as I am not a mountain goat LOL. Anyway the view from the top was amazing. One thing that is enjoyable about my visits to Tunisia is the relaxed pace of life and just doing what the locals do, hanging out at a cafe, sitting outdoors and watching the world go by. Tunisia is full of friendly, hospitable people. I met people on the plane from Munich who were going to Hammamet to stay in a resort. I encouraged them to go out and buy some street food, find a popular cafe and eat there. To go out from the environs of the hotel and experience the life outside the resorts. When the travel advices say its OK to visit Tunisia, I suggest if you ever wanted to, to go as it will help save jobs. Same with Egypt who are not having enough visitors, and even Jordan. Anyway Viva Tunisie and I hope that the Arab Spring has a positive outcome for the people, and that the governments do the right thing by the people. Inchallah.
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