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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

La Goulette Tunisia. We're in Africa!


This was one place that I thought we should take an organised tour. Travelling around Tunisia by ourselves just didn't sound like a good idea to me. So off we went on our organised tour. Little did we know we'd be the centre of an international incident.

First impression of Tunisia was - it's very dirty. Rubbish collection must be in October. There are huge piles of rubbish everywhere you look.

We got on our bus and almost immediately our guide read us the riot act about us listening to him as he wasn't going to repeat things and so on. It was an interesting approach to your "customers" I thought. Our first stop was at a old children's cemetery with an uncertain history. One theory was that the first born child of every family was sacrificed. The other is that because of the high infant mortality rate, there was a very large number of children who died and were buried there. I wandered around a very sombre place and it just made me feel sad.

I wasn't that comfortable taking photos here so here's a shot of an unusual flower I found in a tree.

We climbed back on our bus, and then the excrement hit the oscillating cooling device. There was an issue between one of the Korean guests and the guide. Suzanne saw the whole thing and was stunned by the guides attitude and actions. The whole thing was extremely badly handled and I actually thought it was going to come to blows at one stage. Suzanne and I had already discussed the guide's attitude and decided we would get off the bus and go back to the ship when we got a chance. It certainly wasn't an enjoyable experience. The bus then rounded a bend and we could see the ship within walking distance. A Korean gent asked the guide to stop the bus so his group, which numbered twenty two, could get off the bus and go back to the ship. Another heated exchange followed and the guide refused to stop the bus and continued to the next stop a long way from the ship. As we got off the bus the mobile phones came out and loud calls were made left, right, and centre. To the tour company owner's credit he was there in a flash. He spoke to a couple of passengers, including Suzanne, and we had a new guide a few minutes later. Our new guide was very good and came complete with a sense of humour. 

Everybody settled down and we entered the museum. There was a strong Roman presence in Tunisia in the past and there are many Roman ruins there. This museum houses the largest collection of Roman Mosaics in the world. It took quite some time to get through and was stunning. The time and effort that must have gone into making these mosaics must have been incredible. here are just a few samples:

The museum entry hall.

Look! It's Pumba from the Lion King. No, not me, the the animal in the mosaic.

After the museum we were herded to the souks (shops)...

The souks weren't that crowded - not half!
Talk about high pressure sales techniques.

...and taken to an "approved" rug factory. It was quite interesting to see how the rugs were made and there were some beautiful pieces there, but they were out of our budget and travelling in a motorcycle meant we (luckily) couldn't carry one. Suzanne asked for the price on one rug, just as a matter of interest, and it was on. The would make a very special price for us, they would freight it to Australia for free, they would sell their mother to get a sale. Talk about high pressure. Apparently the rug we asked about took twenty six months to weave by hand. The asking price was $2,500 and they asked for my offer. I explained that we didn't want to buy one and by the time I walked out the front door it was on offer for $1,200. I reckon $800 would have bought it.

Our (new and improved) guide giving us the rundown on genuine hand woven carpets of unquestionable quality and amazing prices.

Obligatory rug making shot.

On our way to our next stop, some Roman ruins, we drove past this...

What is it you ask? It's part of the answer to a question posed in "The Life of Brian" a very popular Monty Python movie. "What have they (the Romans) ever given us in return?" The answer of course is the aqueduct. Sorry, I know it's a bit obtuse, but some of my mates will love it.

So on to the ruins. This was pretty impressive and the sheer size of everything makes you wonder just how they built things  This covered a large area and it still gets to me when I place my hand on a column that someone carved out of a piece of rock 2,000 years ago. Mind boggling.

That concluded our day trip in Tunisia, or so we thought. When we arrived back at the dock we were about to walk out to the gangway and we came across a few guys carrying Falcons. Suzanne and I immediately went "Oh wow" and headed straight for them. They were obviously there to make some money by letting tourists like us have their photo taken with the birds. We were happy to oblige...

This little guy jumped straight on my arm and we checked each other out. Once we were mates he enjoyed a scratch on the neck and let me feel the hook on his beak.

Then he decided that he wanted a better view and climbed up on my shoulder.

 Suzanne's turn. She doesn't look very happy at all does she?

This was far and away the highlight of our day and removed all the bad taste of the mornings dramas. To be so close to these amazing birds was fantastic and luckily we were the last passengers walking through the terminal so we spent a good deal of time with them. Brilliant! The boys got a good tip, and it was worth every cent.

We boarded the ship on a high and the rest of the night was perfect. Good food, good wine, and good friends. Another fantastic and memorable day of our adventure.

Tomorrow it's back to Italy to visit Palermo.

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