Partying with the Pirates! Djerba, Tunisia.
We didn’t know what to expect as we were driven to the beach on the island of Djerba, where we were greeted by a row of barefoot Berbers on horseback.
Some saddles didn’t have stirrups, but they all seemed to be glued to their horses!
They performed the most amazing acrobatics, galloping backwards and forwards across the sand, standing up and balancing on each other’s shoulders.
A camel stood calmly watching everything. It had a huge veiled container on its back which is apparently traditionally used to transport the bride to her wedding.
They seemed to perform for their own pleasure. Nobody was collecting any money.
When the horsemen finished their performance we all walked across the sand to the harbour, where a row of wooden pirate ships were moored!
Our galleon was called The Carthage and we all stepped gingerly aboard along the wobbly gangplank. Several pirates reached out their hands to assist us to step down onto the ship.
When we were all aboard, we were told to move to the front to assist the ship to get further out to sea as it was so shallow in the harbour.
Then off we set, travelling to Flamingo Island for lunch.
Several other galleons followed us.
Music played, and the crew climbed the mast and performed acrobatics. Then they climbed down and flirted with all the girls!
Flamingo Island isn’t really an island unless the tide’s in. It’s a sand headland; a peninsula.
Loads of flamingos stay there from October-February, then they migrate to South Africa and Siberia.
Tunisia is a popular stop-off for migrating birds.
As the Carthage made its merry way to Flamingo Island, we were accompanied by a very heavy police escort. Two speedboats, one on either side, travelled to and fro, filled with heavily-armed men, some wearing balaclavas.
A lot of the tourists were in Djerba for the Ghriba, the Jewish celebration, and as a bomb had exploded there in 2002, the Tunisians were taking no chances.
Read my previous article;
Approaching land, we could see several wooden buildings.
Each boat owner has his own area which he rents for entertaining his ‘crew’ of tourists.
As we landed, we could smell delicious wafts of barbecuing fish, and see curling smoke in several sheds.
It was a very hot day. We all split into groups. Some of them headed for the sandy beach, some stood around talking or walked around exploring, and some of us sat at the long wooden tables in the cool circular dining-room, which was lined with palm fronds to protect us from the fierce sun’s midday rays.
Gradually everyone congregated at the tables around us and the barbecue was carried in.
I’ve rarely tasted such delicious fish. They’d all been simply cooked and their fresh flavours were wonderful!
We had sea bass, known as loup de mer, or sea wolf in Tunisia, and dorade, which is sea bream. It’s a small, silvery fish a bit like snapper.
There were huge bowls of couscous, and smaller bowls of salads which were placed on our tables along with crusty bread and butter.
No need to rush or queue; there was plenty for everyone, and most of us went back for second helpings.
The first course was cleared away. I’ve never been waited on by a pirate before! Then a selection of Tunisian sweets was served.
While we ate, a group of pirates went from table to table, singing and playing. They really added to the happy atmosphere!
It was time to go. We all piled back on board the Carthage and headed for home.
We were travelling with the tide, accompanied by our military guards, and, hard as it is to believe, there was a lovely breeze which was almost cold!
The bar served beer, water and Coke, the pirates performed their trapeze act dangling from the masts, and then they danced with their favourite females.
They must have some of the cushiest jobs in Tunisia. I bet there’s a waiting list!
Everyone agreed that it really is an excellent day out.
Being British and part of a Nanny Nation where we’re nagged and instructed everywhere we go, we were surprised that the journey doesn’t start with a safety talk.
I checked, and each Captain has the names and Nationalities of every passenger.
A maximum of 178 passengers is allowed per Galleon.
There was a history of piracy in Tunsia, dating from the 16th Century. They were known as Barbary Pirates, Barbary coming from the word Berber. They were very fierce, and notorious all along the Mediterranean coasts, and further afield.
Today’s ‘pirates’ are completely harmless!
Prices and details of trips are available from hotels, who arrange the trips.