Tunisia: Tunis

Saturday morning I woke up and hopped on a plane for Tunis, Tunisia. It was the first time that I took an airplane without being nervous at some point during the flight. Also, the first time I managed to travel alone without problems.

We stayed in a neighborhood of Tunis called Sidi Bou Said, which translates to, assuming Bou is Tunisian for Abu, Saint the Father of Sayeed. Anyway, It’s sort of an affluent subburb of the city, right on the mediterranean. The view from the hotel was spectacular – aqua blue waters as far as they eye could see, lush green vegetation, birds singing. I can see why the Carthaginians chose it for the site of their fortress super city.

The unit of currency in Tunisia is the Dinar, and it’s roughly 1 dinar = 85 cents. They are big, big, big coins.

The whole place had a much friendlier air than in Morocco, as well as less devoutly Moslem. I think I heard only one or two Hemdullilahs while there, and just one insha’allah. But I really only saw the swanky suburb, so who knows if this holds true throughout the whole country. Here are the highlights:

Sunday: A half day of presentations and then a trip to the Ruins of Carthage and a museum that had hundreds, if not thousands, of relics from the Roman era. This single museum has more stuff in it than every museum in Morocco added together. Dinner at a restaurant overlooking the sea in a neighborhood that reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of greece. Winding hilly roads, blue and white painted buildings close together, scrupulously clean, cobblestones, the whole nine yards.

Monday: Presentations all day and a reception at the residence of the American Ambassador to Tunisia. Dude. I need to get into politics: his house was sweet as hell. Before that, however, some self-righteous asshat started babbling about the Iraq war and how all American soldiers are evil during the Q&A session after the presentations. That sort of set the tone for the day. Look here: do you have a PhD in Materials Engineering? No? Then I have no interest in being lectured by you. Ugh.

Anyway, the point is that Tunisia is absolutely gorgeous and perhaps I will go back. The ruins of Carthage alone were absolutely flabbergastingly awesome.

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