Last weekend I finally made it to Africa, if only just, to Tunis, capital of Tunisia and home of the Arab Spring. Mary Keany and I went to visit our friend, Samira, who graduated from Stevens with us. Samira moved there about a year a go to be in a Muslim country somewhere between Bosnia (her homeland) and Senegal (her husband's).
Tourists in Tunisia tend to see little of Tunis beyond its airport. Though the capital and economic centre of the the country, it is low on classic sightseeing attractions, so they usually head an hour South to the open beaches and luxury resorts that service them. We stayed in the city, though, due to a mix of indifference to beach resorts (for me, at least) and as guests of Samira and her husband.
Tunis proved difficult to discern its pulse. The city is active, but not vibrant. It's not developed, but it's certainly not third world, either. It has modern bars and an ancient Medina, but it's haphazard and disjointed. I spent four days there, but I don't feel I understand any better what the city is about than before I went, and it didn't whet my appetite to go back and dig deeper. Our hosts were lovely, and it was great to see them, but I think Tunisia, as a country, will be off my travel list until I reach the age where beach resorts have moved higher up my priority list.
Me with the Mediterranean behind.
On a bus with Samira - I love taking public transport (and seeing grocery stores) in new cities.
Sometimes the French influence is quite apparent.
Behind the mosque in the Medina is a very odd structure. It used to be the home of a ruler of the city, but now it's a carpet shop on the lower floors, a preserved bedroom above, and an open roof at the top from which you can see the city spreading below.
Military presence is strong in the city centre to make sure the Arab Spring doesn't ignite an Arab Summer.
The clock tower at the centre of Tunis - a site you can see in many photographs from the revolution as the crowds gathered around it.
A very cool hotel along the sea.
The two above are from Carthage - the Romans were kind enough to build some old stuff so future tourists would have backdrops for their photos.
Last, but certainly not least, Tunisians are a lovely people!
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