Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Day 5

One of the things I like most about travelling, is meeting new people, spending time with them and learning about their lives. This is easier in some places than others.

I found Tunisians among the warmest, most open and hospitable people I've ever met, and being fluent in French allowed us to communicate with them beyond the superficials.

Here are just a few of the people we spent time with who really made our trip special:

We met Noureddine, Kalthoum & Amenallah on our first day in Tunis, after we asked them the name of a beautiful building we were standing in front of. This lead to an extensive conversation after which they invited us to have dinner at their house. We exchanged contact details and promised to call when we returned to Tunis towards the end of our trip.

Noureddine is an electrical technician and Kalthoum a teacher. They cooked a delicious dinner of Tunisian dishes for us - Couscous, fish, salad, olives and fatima's fingers. Afterwards the men enjoyed the hookah and talked politics, while Kalthoum and I sipped a delicious mint tea and talked about our lives.


We ate at this little hole in the wall restaurant a couple of nights when in the town of El Kef. Monsieur Chebi is the cook and Madame Chebi the hostess. They have been running this restaurant for over 20 years and are just the sweetest couple. They took a real liking to me for some reason and our meals turned into 20 course (I exaggerate) affairs of free food. I tried to explain that I was on a diet but they wouldn't hear of it, so every time Madame turned away, I would dump a little of my food at a time onto James's plate. Madame Chebi made sure we left the restaurant each time with a bag of oranges which ended up lasted us the entire trip.


We met this lovely couple also in the town of El Kef. They live in Tunis but were on a mini-vacation. Laila is Tunisian and runs her own export and import business and Khalid is a Syrian diplomat. They were staying in the same hotel we were staying in and we met at the reception desk where we were both enquiring about dinner in the hotel's restaurant.

When we were told the restaurant was closed, Khalid immediately turned to James and I and said warmly that since we were both in the same boat i.e. hungry and looking for a dinner, we should go looking for a restaurant together. We were a little surprised but accepted and got into their car and went off to find a restaurant. As it turns out it was a holiday and most restaurants in the town were closed, but Laila found us a lovely restaurant with delicious food and then they insisted on paid the bill.

We had breakfast together the next morning and Laila bought me this traditional Berber trinket:

We met up with them when we got back to Tunis and Laila took us to the airport.


We met Neila in a cooperative where women learn various crafts. She has just graduated from college with a degree in finance and is learning to embroidery while looking for a full time job. She was quite fascinating and I had a good chat with her after which she asked James and I over to her house for dinner. We were leaving her town that afternoon so we had to decline. We did exchange contact details however so we've been staying in touch.


Two little kids who followed us half way up Jugurtha's table, real little mountain goats.


I met Sonia on our last day in Tunis. She runs the most gorgeous little boutique which sell really wonderful hand crafted jewelry and art pieces. I wish I'd had more time to chat with her, but I did buy this ring:


We only stopped in Douz for a couple of hours and while James went off to find something to eat I explored the town. I spent quite a long time chatting to Mohamed and his mother Fatima in their store. Fatima is a third generation carpet weaver and makes the most beautiful carpets. Here she is sitting on the floor of her shop adding finishing touches to one of her carpets.


Ibrahim and his wife Sula are from Niger, but are now living in Tunisia. Ibrahim is a Professor of Physics and Sula a housewife. She speaks 4 languages and he speaks 6 languages including Arabic, French and English. Not bad eh? I'm in the middle.


Every morning Mohammed wakes up at 5am to bake (or maybe I should say fry) bread for the camp. He is one of the group of Nomadic tribes that have now settled in this Oasis in the Sahara.


Our desert guide Mohtar

Had a great day. Had 2.3 ltrs of H2O and walked 8kilometers/5miles.

1 apple
160 g yogurt
120 g milk

60 g cheese
240 g salad
1 tbls dressing

120 g tofu
120 g beets
360 g salad
3 tbls dressing


  1. I really had a good feeling reading this post,there really are still some nice hospitable people in this world. Thansk for sharing and reinforcing this.

  2. That's the amazing thing about travel. If you take the time to actually talk to the people, you can find some truly fascinating and open, welcoming folks willing to share whatever they've got.

  3. What a great post! You met some really nice and interesting people. Thank you for sharing!!


What's it all about Alfie?