Apart from a few odd days out to Cleethorpes (nothing wrong with Cleethorpes) i've never had a holiday before so my daughter took me for a once in a lifetime opportunity to Tunisia.
I loved the African sunshine even though I had to cover up from the mid-day heat as the temperatures soared into the 40's. Even at midnight it never dropped below 27 degrees.
I was privileged to be invited into some homes of native Tunisians. In the first household, the owner, a truly
lovely man, had european style furnishings of which he was extremely proud, but to my mind it didn't quite work with the traditional house.
In the next house we were invited to dinner. That house was the family home of our host for the night, and it was magnificent. We entered into what i can only describe as a foyer, with marble floor and pillars. Around the sides of the foyer were doors closed only by a curtain for privacy. Behind each of those doors were separate self contained apartments. The parents lived in one, the grandparents in a second, and our host, the oldest son, in his own apartment. The family were by no means wealthy and had designed and built the house themselves over a number of years and generations. I couldn't help but feel what a wonderful way to live, so different to the English way! It was also the most serene house i have ever been in.
It was the third house, and the one i stayed in for a while, which i found to be the most different to anything i could think of. From the street we entered into an open courtyard with rooms around 3 sides and a staircase leading to the small amount of roofspace. The roof space was used as a storage area, for hanging out the washing, there was a clay oven, and then there was - THEM - THE SHEEP! In the mornings a man would walk down the streets collecting all the sheep and take them for grazing, so every morning there would be a clatter of hooves coming down the stairs and through the courtyard to the street, in the evening just before dark back they came, clattering straight up the stairs and onto the roof. My look of amazement the first time i saw this was a source of amusement for the whole family who seemed to find it funny that i had never seen sheep on a roof before!
We went to el Jem to see the roman ampitheatre which was used for the film Gladiator: until you get up close it's hard to imagine the immense size of it. We walked through the maze ot tunnels inside it, miles of tunnels, it was some relief from the baking heat outside.
At Tracuna we visited a mountain community still living much as their ancesters had done for centuries. I'm not sure whether it would really be classed as a very small mountain or a very large hill, either way it was steep and rocky and the car could only go so far, after that we had to walk up to the top. The community was obviously impoverished and as far as i could make out made a living from a few goats and the bit of tourist trade that managed to find their way there. Our walk was rewarded at the top by a wonderful cafe, while the outside was a bit 'untidy' and hot, inside the cafe was cleanliness itself and furnished with simple home made chairs and tables and handmade cushions and floor coverings, it felt really homely in there and i'm glad we made the walk.
I had to spend some time at the tourist centre of Kantaoui, so I can understand why some people don't like Tunisia, enough said about that!
All in all i'm glad i've been, i've met some wonderful people, seen some wonderful things, but i'm really glad to be home. I've come home with the certain knowledge that i wouldn't trade my life, with all it's faults and
hardships, with any other person anywhere in the world. Now i'm refreshed and ready to carry on.