Souk trader

Souk trader

Said undid the canvas straps at the front of his stall, carried his stands outside and carefully arranged all his ceramics, bags, shoes, and jewellery over them.

He dusted the sand off everything, pulled out his chair, and sat down to wait for customers.

At lunchtime, he carried the stands back inside and tied up the front of his stall. Maybe the customers will come this afternoon.

After his lunch, he returned and went through the setting-up ritual again. And in the evening he packed it all away again. Tomorrow would be better.

tunisia-178-mediumSaid’s proud of his stall. It’s in a prime position in the car park below the beautiful blue and white town, Sidi Bou Said, a couple of kilometres from Carthage, which is a photographer’s fantasy!

He used to make a lot of money from the tourists, but now the tourists have stopped coming and Said has a high rent and electricity bills to pay, and he doesn’t know how much longer he can survive.

A few miles away, outside the ancient site of Carthage, where Hannibal came from, half a dozen stallholders stand in the empty road. Their faces lit up when they saw me. They all greeted me with big smiles.

Behind them you can look over the wall and view the ruins, and to the right, at the end of the road, is the clear, deep blue sea.

tunisia-172-mediumUnlike a lot of tourists, I don’t speak rudely to anyone. I stopped and chatted in French to each of them.

One man offered me a plastic necklace with the Hand of Fatima on it for 15 Dinars. Fatima was Mohammed’s daughter. I was a bit cross and said that was ridiculous!

As I walked away, he rushed behind me, desperate. He offered me a ceramic bowl with the necklace and a keyring in it. ‘Here, take them. Five dinars for the lot!’

There are roughly three dinars to the £, the $ or the euro. (Sorry, I haven’t got a Euro symbol on my keyboard.)

Ancient Carthage

Ancient Carthage

I paid him the five dinars. It was ridiculously cheap. I’m sure I can give them away as presents.

Across the empty road, Walid beckoned me over. ‘Please come, look at my shop. Looking is free.’

It had rained in the night and there were cloths on the floor. Walid tipped the rainwater out of pots, shoes, etc as he held up his wares. He didn’t complain.

‘Look, Berber style,’ he said.

As I walked out, he asked, ‘Where you from?’

tunisia-199-medium‘England,’ I told him.

He smiled even more. ‘Oh, England. Thomas Cook, very good.’ He spread out his arms, indicating the empty street. ‘Why they no come here now?’

Here very good!’

I had to go to our minibus as the others were glaring at me, eager to leave.

Frantically, Walid swept his hand across his ceramics. ‘Look only one dinar each,’ he pleaded.

They were lovely. I quickly picked up five painted bowls. ‘Quick, I’ve got to go!’ I told him.

He ran into his shop and grabbed some paper. I handed him a 10 dinar note and had to wait longer as he didn’t have any change. He ran over to the other stallholders who managed to raise the change between them.

The glares on the minibus increased, but I didn’t care. I was happy with my purchase and Walid had possibly his only customer of the day – or maybe longer!

So why has the Tunisian tourism dried up?

There have been terrible terrorist attacks in London, Paris and Nice among other places, but they’re still packed with tourists.

Tunisia is a lovely country. Prices are cheap, the scenery’s exciting and varied, food’s fresh and local, the people are laid-back, welcoming and friendly, the weather’s perfect; hot but not too hot in the daytime and cooler at night, the hotels are clean and modern, and it’s a shopper’s Paradise!

I’ve seen a lot of it in two visits, and I’m going back again in February, to the Sounds of the Sahara music festival.

Coming?

Tunisair operates six flights per week in winter and one flight per day in summer from London Heathrow and Gatwick to Tunis, prices start from £250, including taxes. Internal flights with Tunisair Express operate three times a day from Tunis to Djerba prices start from £100, including taxes and one time a day from Tunis to Tozeur prices start from £35, including taxes.  For reservations call 020 85649597 or 0207 7347644 or go to www.tunisair.com

 

For all your travel needs and for information on what’s happening in Tunisia go to www.discovertunisia.uk

 

 

About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.