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Touring Tunisia with Jenn

January 4, 2019

We have settled into a routine at Cap Monastir Marina and have made lots of new cruising friends that are wintering here. We have Sunday barbecues, game nights, and rotating dinners; sounds like an old folks home. The weather has turned cold and we often have high winds that deposit Sahara sands on the boats.

This is our first year that we haven’t traveled back to the States for Christmas, but we were fortunate to have our daughter Jenn join us for the holidays. We rented a car for two weeks and toured much of Tunisia from north to south. In Tunis we visited the ancient ruins of Carthage, the Bardo Museum, and the medina (market) with its labyrinth of narrow corridors lined with shops. We stopped in Souse to see the medina (women like markets!) and the Archeology Museum.

We returned to the marina where the ladies attended a cooking class that culminated in a lavish Christmas dinner with fellow cruisers. Then we were off to El Jem and one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. The following day we went to the island of Djerba and the village of Erriadh that was popularized in 2014 with Djerbahood, a street art event where artist from all over the world painted 250 murals throughout the city.

The next day we headed for Tataouine to visit ancient Berber villages built on mesa tops. We were definitely out of tourist season as we were the only people there. It was like being in a children’s playground with compact dwellings stacked on one another with tiny doors. The air was exceptionally clear and the views were fantastic.

We later visited a present-day Berber village built adjacent to the ruins of an ancient city perched along a ridgeline. This is a popular tourist stop and we did have to share the experience with half-a-dozen tourist buses. From the village we could look across the valley to oases along a dry river bed and a camel trail that zigzagged up into the mountains on its way to the Sahara Desert.

Our next stop was Douz, gateway to the Sahara Desert. Google Maps, possibly sensing our disesteem with tourist crowds, routed us to a remote area with large dunes and palm trees. We knew we had arrived when our car got stuck in the sand and the women had to push. We were surprisingly impressed by the sight of the world’s largest hot desert with its powdery sand. The desert, however, was not hot and we awoke the next morning to 4-degree C temperatures and the car’s alarm system warning about icy roads.

We stopped in Kairouan and visited the medina known for its carpets and the Grand Mosque.  Then it was a couple of days of rest back at the boat before Jenn had to leave us. It was wonderful to have the time with Jenn and we look forward to heading back to the States at the end of the month to see the rest of our family and friends.

Tunis

 

Souse, Monastir, and Mahdia

 

El Jem

 

Djerba and Djerbahood

 

Berber villages

 

Douz, gateway to the Sahara Desert

 

Kairouan

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