North Africa: 2. Tunisia
Tunisia was an unexpected destination after our time in Egypt, but our travel options had been limited by this point after the Libyan consul in Alexandria refused us entry visas. We submitted another visa application before leaving Cairo, hoping that we could pick up entry stamps at Tripoli airport three weeks later instead.
Arriving in Tunis was exciting – it was good to finally be moving on again, and the city was hosting a film festival so the locals all seemed to be in an upbeat mood as well. French/European influences on the culture were immediately noticeable, in stark contrast to what we had experienced so far; most women were unveiled, couples were holding hands, and everyone was speaking French to us. Although this was expected, having to suddenly recall GCSE lessons and not just let Oli talk Arabic with people was tough. Between us though we managed to make ourselves understood well enough.
After several days in the country we soon discovered that their sandwiches are amazing: cheap, tasty and filling. On the other hand coffee was a bit hit and miss, and Tunisians all seem to go to bed by 8pm, making evenings pretty dull. The following photos show what we mostly got up to when the sun was up…
Before arriving in Tunis we had heard that our Libyan visa paperwork had been processed by the interior ministry – our invitations stated we were air-conditioning engineers, with a back-story of looking to strike up business deals after the revolution. As long as the border guards at Tripoli airport would believe us, then we would be in at last!
Next instalment to follow soon…
Ridge-line separating two valleys, near Tatouine in southern Tunisia.
Inside the colosseum in El Jem