November 2010 began with a trip to Tunisia

Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area is almost 165,000 km², with an estimated population of just over 10.3 million. Its name is derived from the capital Tunis located in the north-east.

At the beginning of known recorded history, Tunisia was inhabited by Berber tribes. Its coast was settled by Phoenicians starting as early as the 10th century BC. The city of Carthage was founded in the 9th century BC by settlers from Tyre, now in modern-day Lebanon. Legend says that Dido founded the city in 814 BC.

It was just a three hour flight from Amsterdam to Monastir, a beautiful city of the northern coast of Africa. Our friend Nasr was waiting for us at the Monastir airport when we arrived. Nasr was born in Tunisia but has lived in Paris for many years.

We were only there four days but when you know people, you see and learn a lot. Tunisia is of course a primarily Muslim country dominated by Mosques and chanting towers. They chant 5 times per day. If you have the time to take a look at my pictures you can get a feel for the country as well as the people.

Our hotel was lovely, complete with Infinity Pool. Imagine that! This is Africa you know. The staff was quite helpful until it came to my need to connect to the Internet to get a few orders out. They kept telling me they did not have the card. I kept checking with the desk and finally, when I offered to pay, the code was released.

While walking through the streets you see small cafes everywhere filled with men talking and drinking coffee or tea. It was quite rare to see a woman. Tunisian women prefer not to see their family, cousins or children sitting in a café, this is something only the men enjoyed.

Our days were filled with discussions regarding Green Energy products. The first meeting was in Tunis, the capital. We met in a lovely restaurant called La Goulette in La Mer and enjoyed lunch for almost four hours, picking out our preference of fish, shrimp and other treasures of the sea upon entering. The local wines are also very nice.

We were taken to markets and fish shops in the small villages of Mneshi-Lamta and Sayada. Visited Port Job in Teboulbe, and enjoyed mint tea topped with pine nuts in the beautiful and picturesque village of Sisi Bou Saἳd, Village Bleue.

Late in the evening, very large restaurants were filled only with men. “It is the will of God” it was explained to me.

Before heading to the airport we roamed Mahdia and had, again, a wonderful lunch with friends.

Tunisia may not currently be on your “list of places to visit” but I would highly recommend that you put it there! But for now, in 2011, you might wait a bit to make the trip.   PS I did leave some samples of Mokk-a behind. You never know!

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