September 23, 2007
I did things the easy way this morning. I ended up taking a flight back to Tunis. It was about $60 more than taking the ‘louage’
(the van that holds eight passengers) that would have taken around seven hours. I could justify the cost considering what I am
saving by not going to cafes and restaurants during the day since I have been here. In addition, I did a low-key meal of salade
mechouia last night for dinner (only about $2) instead of going to one of the nicer restaurants in the area. Priorities.
Before going to the airport, I decided to hire a taxi to do a tour of the island – mostly in a last-ditch effort to see the Synagogue.
This plan was a bust. The Synagogue was opening at 11:00am today. My flight was at 8:45am. Nobody can say I didn’t try.
After a flight, taxi, and two trains, I have ended up in Hammamet – a place I have instantly been drawn into. My hotel has a
pool, private beach area, a room that is beautifully furnished with a sitting area and a kitchenette…and it is all for around
$25/night. A steal, if you ask me.
Another city, another medina. But this one is different than the others. It has a stone fort within the whitewashed medina and
it borders on the Gulf of Hammamet. Turns out I am still open to the idea of medinas…as long as they lie on the coastline.
As for Hammamet. Yes, it touristy with people on holiday. The good part about this is that it means that cafes are actually
open during the day. Also I don’t see people being bused in and bused out here at regular intervals like I saw in Houmet Souk
in Djerba. Here, people seem content taking their time and wandering around and enjoying the views and the all-too-
picturesque medina. (I have actually given myself a quota of how many photographs I am allowed to take of doorways as it
was getting entirely out of hand!). The tourists here all want the same thing I do – some time on the coast and the enjoyment
of walking around and seeing one beautiful thing after another.
I saw a trip that would go to a few major spots in Tunisia tomorrow (including the Colosseum at El Jem and Monastir) – but I
am passing on this so that I can go to Hammamet Sud – a stretch of beach about 2km from where I am now. I am going with
the hope of partaking in some water activitiy.
I am now going to stop journaling and get back to sipping my Coca Cola Light while watching the water…
Damn it. I got taken today. And it was a total rookie move. I can’t believe I fell for it…
While I was watching the sunset, a Tunisian man came up to me wanting to possibly exchange 3 Euro coins for Tunisian dinars.
I should know better. I should have just said “No”. Instead, I decided to ruffle through my little coin purse looking to possibly
do the exchange since I will be in the Euro zone next week. He then started fiddling with coins from my little coin purse. I kept
pulling it back. But then he was confusing me telling me he didn’t want the 1 dinar coins – he wanted the smaller ones
(equivalent to our dimes). This made no sense to me. In the end, I told him I didn’t understand what he wanted and I gave
him his Euros back. A few minutes later I looked back in my coin purse only to notice it was now one 20 dinar note lighter.
Dohhhhhh! And, might I add, that this was happening during the end-of-Ramadan-for-the-night prayer call. I thought that
theft was the cardinal sin in the Muslim faith? I thought they chop people’s hands off? Even if that isn’t the case, I know that
Allah would not approve.
I decided not to beat myself up over this. Why let that jerk ruin my night when what’s done is done? It was just another lesson
In the end, I still saw a beautiful sunset from a beautiful spot in a beautiful country. Not so bad after all. I just hate feeling like
a naïve idiot.
Because this place is buzzing with tourists, prices for dinners aren’t as cheap as other places. Since that is the case, I decided to
go to a beautiful place perched on top of the medina with gorgeous views and seafood that was just as good. The atmosphere
more than made up for the few extra dinars I was spending to eat there versus some typical-looking tourist restaurant.
September 24, 2007
Today I did a whole lot of nothing…and it felt so darn good!
I guess ‘nothing’ isn’t quite the right word. I did walk for a couple hours up and down the beach while the sea breeze kept me
from getting too hot. I did sip a drink while sitting on the beach. And I did have lunch at a café right outside of the medina walls
looking out at the water (and it marked my FIRST lunch in Tunisia in the five days that I have been here!).
I also learned a lesson. Never ever take good weather for granted. I’m so thankful for the time I spent wandering through the
medina yesterday. For the time I idled away on a wall watching the sunset. For the time I spent at the rather romantic
restaurant I went to for dinner. As these were all things I would not get to experience tonight.
Instead, I am typing away on my computer from my room while watching a massive thunder and lightning storm. It’s actually
quite cozy being tucked into my comfy room watching the lightning radiate the sky. The thunder has taken a break from
booming. I wonder if the Muslims were a bit confused tonight as to what the actual breaking-the-fast boom was. It would be
easy to get it wrong as all of the booms were sounding identical. My hunch is that there were a few premature cigarettes lit up.
Luckily I stopped at a patisserie on my way home and got a nice little piece of chocolate cake and some Tunisian specialties
(while these can be a bit intimidating to look at, they are quite tasty). No dinner for me tonight as I have absolutely nothing to
wear in this type of weather. So my meal consisted of my patisserie loot along with a few pieces of my remaining dark chocolate
stash I picked up in Ireland. I have to say that I am mildly craving something savory. Oh well. Can get something in the
I guess I am going to call it an early night. It’s not even 9:00pm yet! Call me old…but sleep is actually sounding pretty good
right now. After all, there’s really nothing else to do…
September 25, 2007
Those thunderstorms last night sure dumped everything out. Nothing but blue skies this morning. And this last morning of
mine in Hammamet would be spent going to my favorite café on the coast where I had a breakfast of thé aux pignons (tea with
pine nuts) and a crêpe with chocolate, bananas and chopped almonds. Yum yum.
Along the medina wall.