Tunis. What a fascinating city it is.
I only scratched the surface having spent a mere two nights in Tunis, the capital, back in November 2012. There’s a quiet confidence that underlies the population of the city and, although I say it as someone who doesn’t speak Arabic and therefore can’t detect any dissent or negative feelings, there seems to be a certain optimism too. And certainly from the people I spoke with during my stay. And dare I say it, but there’s still a revolution going on. People are expressing themselves in many different ways.
I’ll state some examples to illustrate. The young lady at the bar I happened to visit; sitting alone but confident in herself, drinking a glass of lager. Remember, this is still essentially a Muslim country.
The two young guys walking arm in arm. I don’t know, and I couldn’t tell, but I was told by, Issam, a friend I met, that they were gay. And remember, this is still a fairly conservative country.
And then there’s Hammed, the taxi driver that took me to the airport this evening. He was delighted to put on a music video on his dashboard video player and play the likes of Dizzee Rascal and Michael Jackson and ‘dance’ with his hands (yes I know, luckily the traffic was slow-moving as it would have been very nerve-wracking). A fairly surreal experience but strangely enjoyable nonetheless.
Ben Ali, the former dictator, has gone after more than 23 years of iron rule. The people are expressing themselves in ways that would never have previously been allowed.
Locals are not allowed to drink alcohol outside. Tourists will be served, but it is an offence to serve residents. Again, one of those quirks. It may or may not change. There are pressures, from conservative parts, to curtail certain freedoms that have been gained. I was shown some posters on tram stop shelters extolling the virtues of a certain type of conservatism.
There is, in any case, freedom of debate in parliament. And I have left Tunis after this briefest of visits with a positive feeling and a genuine feeling of being made welcome by the many people I met whether they be in the bars, my hotel (Ibis, which I can definitely recommend), metro ticket office staff, taxi drivers, or residents. And I also have optimism for their future.
Today, my first full day in Tunis has been a mixed bag of weather. Started dry, then it poured with rain, very heavy at times, thunder and lightening eventually clearing with some blue skies.
I hadn’t brought any wet weather gear with me. I had packed two coats as it was cold leaving the UK, and it was going to be cold on my return.
Men at work
Further along, I spot a tram stop. No name attached to this one and is one of the failings of so many systems I have come across. Knowing where to get on or off is an essential part of navigating, and we will see later, there is a route diagram inside the tram carriages with the stops named!
These two lovely ladies wanted their photo taken with me.. what can I say? Naturally, I obliged being the friendly chap I am.
One of the main interchange stations is La Republique shown below in these photos.
With the camera at the ready, we sometimes come across the strangest things. This little fella was wondering around the streets of Tunis looking a little bit sorry for itself. Now I’m no pigeon expert, far from it in fact, so this one appeared to me to be a little bit wanting in the ‘feather department’ with its little knees-a-knocking.
As regular followers of this website will know, one of the things I enjoy doing is seeking out odd or interestingly named products. I present to you a selection I was able to find on this short trip.
And finally, for now, a couple of photos of the rather impressive decorations found at Tunis airport departure area.