Existing Member?

Roads and Tales

My Travel Writing Scholarship 2011 entry - Journey in an Unknown Culture

TUNISIA | Friday, 25 March 2011 | Views [478] | Scholarship Entry

One Day at “Planet Tunisia”.

Some places are just so different from everything we’re familiar with they might as well be another world! This is the story about the day I arrived to Planet Tunisia.
I was onboard a cruise ship and had a boyfriend who could speak English, German and the most popular language in the world: Hungarian.
Now usually when you’re planning to visit a different culture it is advised that you collect some basic information such as: spoken languages, money rate, appropriate clothing and so on. But this was one of my first travels so I knew as much about Tunisia as I do about the moon (that is beautiful and far away). 
Tunis welcomes it's visitors with a majestical reception: a guy with two oddly clean and cute camels waits at the ship's gangway for a picture on a fake ride. After that a group dressed as royal soldiers will offer you a throne, praise you with compelling devotion and even sit a living hawk on your left arm for video and photos. If you don’t feel like an amazingly strong and attractive emperor on these five minutes, then you probably never will!
Back to our tourist human being condition we shortly realised most locals don’t speak English. We found a small restaurant to try the local food but the menu was only written in Tunsi or French so we just pointed some random dishes from the options and I got a luckily awesome tasting meat pancake.
When we entered the Medina it was a world of amazement! The grandiose architecture mixed with the vertiginous variety of sounds, scents and colours totally distracted our thoughts from normal worries like getting a map, for example. Then some very friendly guy invited us to visit “his uncle’s shop” and we started following him through those labyrinth-made streets.

Now this is the part when I became a super hero:

We managed to get rid of that not so well intentioned guy (who turned out to be a thief) but none of us had any idea of how to go back to the city. Every exit we took lead us to a dead end or even smaller traffic-free streets and we started to worry about missing the ship. Just then I remembered we had a picture of the medina’s main entrance and I showed it to a cop nearby.
All the 6 months of French class I had at elementary school paid off when I managed to ask: “S’il vou plait, ou est ça?” and – even more incredible! – was able to identify two crucial words from the answer: “dernier gauche”. Just like that we found our way on time for the ship’s departure.
That’s how Tunis taught me some "alien behaviour rules" I'll remember for many light-years: never follow a stranger to unknown places, be open minded to try new gastronomy, learn a few basic words from the local language and always be ready to improvise!

Tags: #2011writing, travel writing scholarship 2011

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About roadsandtales

Follow Me

Where I've been

Photo Galleries

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about Tunisia

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.