We’ve been back in Africa again for the fourth time on this trip around the world. This time Tunisia got picked out of the hat. It was another chance to eat couscous and to explore the history and culture of North Africa. Another trend of our trip so far appears to be that whenever we arrive in a country there is something significant happening politically. This time it was a referendum with President Kais Saied securing a win and more power in the process. It will be interesting to see how things play out.
Our ‘imagication’ in Tunisia got off to a great start. My early research led me to a Facebook page where there were a couple of recommendations for where to buy Tunisian type food locally so off I went shopping. I thanked them on the Facebook page for their suggestions and they promptly posted a recipe, so we quickly had our first Tunisian dish – Ojja made from locally made merguez.
Although I read that there is beer and wine produced in Tunisia I failed to find any on sale here even via the internet. Instead I read that the most popular drink is mint tea. I even found a recipe – not that one is needed of course for making tea, but if I hadn’t have found it I wouldn’t have discovered one of the things to add is roasted pine nuts. We did our best to recreated the picture in the recipe.
An interesting shaped country to make a clock of; curves and even a straight line. Then the question of where to put the clock movement; top, middle or bottom. I decided on the middle in the end.
We had a very nice meal at Deli Fuego on City Road and had a warm welcome from Mohamed and his friendly staff. Mohamed comes from Tunisia so it was an ideal opportunity to gift him the clock in the shape of Tunisia.
We watched Dear Son (2018). This is a simple yet captivating film of a Tunisian family whose son leaves to join ISIS in Syria. It is told more from the point of view of the father, desperate for his son to come home to Tunisia.
I was particularly taken by Anouar Brahem, a Tunisian oud player and composer. He is widely acclaimed as an innovator in his field. He combines Arab classical music, folk music and jazz.
Books in English by a Tunisian author seem rare so I was lucky to find ‘The Italian’ by Shukri Mabkhout. It was easy to read, engaging and provided a decent background to Tunisia in the 1980s. It was however hard to warm to any of the flawed characters.
I also read ‘The Tremor of Forgery’ by Patricia Higsmith. I very much enjoyed this read by the American author who also wrote ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’. The Tremor of Forgery is set in Tunisia in the 1960s and about an American to goes to Tunisia to write a screenplay, is befriended by another American and a Dane. It doesn’t go fast but builds the suspense.
I didn’t have to look very far for a Tunisian sporting hero. A few weeks before Tunisia got picked out of the hat I had watched Ons Jabeur loose to Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, in the Wimbledon final, dashing Arab hopes that she would become the first from the region to win a grand slam singles title. Jabeur, whose exuberance on the court and personality off it have earned her the sobriquet “Minister of Happiness”. Her success has also led to her being pictured on a Tunisian stamp. She has just reached the US Open Semi-Finals. An exciting time to be in Tunisia!
In the centre of Tunisia lies Djebel Chambi, the tallest mountain at 1,544 meters and an extension of the Atlas Mountains. Technically it is not a difficult climb. Indeed, some say it is even a drive-up, at least 1,300 meters. There is a metal crescent, the symbol of Islam on the false summit and a mast on the actual summit. Not an easy ascent these days as it is in a military active area.
There are only 3 mystery geocaches in Tunisia and I chose to tackle solving La palme solitaire (GC47B47). An easy solve with the aid of Excel. It is on Djerba, an island off the coast of Tunisia which I had missed off my clock!
Yes, there are railways in Tunisia, both between cities in the north of the country and a metro system in Tunis. The video I enjoyed most was however of the historic Red Lizard Train. It is a restored royal train that runs through arid gorges in the centre of Tunisia. I don’t think it’s running at present however so watching the video and using your imagination is probably the best you can do for now.
The charity which caught my eye this month was I Can Be. It is a British charity that bring primary school aged children into the world of work, introducing them to inspiring professionals and helping them to discover the breadth of opportunity around them. In 2019 they ran a project in Tunis, Tunisia.
My purchase of some Tunisian stamps haven’t yet arrived but I remain hopeful. Hard to tell what’s in the pictures precisely but I can see a few camels which is hardly surprising.
Blogs and Videos
Here’s one that I liked: