Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Happy Holiday!

Well, the holiday was fantastic, and it feels like it happened ages ago already!
We left at three in the morning to head to the airport, and the flight took off on time thankfully. We arrived at our hotel, the Tej Mahaba at around twelve, and had to wait a while, as check in and out are at the same time, so our room had to be prepared. The hotel was absolutely fantastic, with both indoor and outdoor pools, plenty of sun beds, beautiful fountains, shops, restaurants, and a service that provided skin treatments, which, although I didn't have any, were amazingly cheap. Everything was lovely and clean, and the rooms were all air conditioned with balconies. The only downside was the reception staff, who weren't overly friendly, and who we had altercations with on the first day. We arrived at twelve as I've said, and the currency exchange didn't open until five. They were changing english money at the reception desk, and we found out later, wripping everyone off, but we only had travelers cheques, and with it being Sunday the banks were closed. So after much wondering around trying to find somewhere to get currency, we then asked if we could buy drinks at the hotel, and have them billed to our room, to be paid when we could obtain currency, and they refused to do that. So the first five hours did not pass smoothly at all, we were both tired and very thirsty, and the staff were being complete bastards! Our Rep was brilliant however, and after several people complained to him about the reception staff, they got a bollocking from the supervisor and all was fine after that. Despite that I'd definitely recommend the hotel to anyone, and would stay there if I visited Tunisia again.

We stayed half board, and so had breakfast and evening meal at the hotel. The food was fantastic, plenty of variety and plenty of everything. I haven't weighed myself yet, scared that I've put on a few pounds! For the first few days we lounged by the pool, reading and relaxing and lapping up the sun. Straight away I burned the tops of my legs, even though I was using sun cream, and started to look more like a lobster than anything else. So after that I covered up more and increased the factor to 30, and I'm only slightly peeling now lol. The temperature increased considerably while we were there, going from the 80's to the 100's, and for a while we just had to stay out of the sun, it was so hot! On the Wednesday we went on a cruise, something I was hesitatnt to do, as last year in Cyprus the sea was so rough it made me sick all the time we were on the boat. This one was lovely however, and it dropped ancur so that everyone could fish or swim. Most evenings after dinner we walked down to the beach, and sat and watched the sun set, and sometimes had a dip, the water was so lovely and warm and clear.

I got the chance to speak lots of French, as it's the second language there, and DL was not impressed that I kept getting hit on. The driver of a taxi we took bought me a flower, asked to take me out for a drink and then asked for my number. When I said no to both he gave me his number, and told me to call him. I was greatly amused, but the mrs was not at all. Then, when we had Henna tatoos done, the tatooist asked me if I had a boyfriend, and wanted to meet for a drink later. I found the whole thing quite hilarious, men are both predictable and pathetically desperate, and it was no reflection on my attractiveness, because they jump on any woman who looks vaguely European out there.

I found the country fascinating though, the culture is so different, % 90 of Tunisians are muslim, and most days I listened with avid curiosity to the call to prayer. Although many women in the cities do not cover themselves, women in the villages as we saw on the last day, when we went on a treck in to the countryside on cammels, wear traditional dress. Even in the cities women tend to remain hidden, by this I mean they weren't often seen on the streets, and it was strange to be surrounded by men, everywhere, the absence of women making it all the more significant. The cammel ride was fantastic too, and I got a sore back and arse afterwards. We got some lovely pictures though, and DL enjoyed it much more than she thought she would. We also had silver bangles engraved with our names in Arabic, and are wearing each others, something which I suggested, so you can't say I'm not romantic lol.

One huge surprise though came in some one we met. At the hotel restaurant, you are given a table, and you stay at that table all week. The waiter asked if we minded sharing our table with two other English people, and we said of course not. The two women that sat with us were in their late fifties early sixties and one had difficulty walking and used a wheelchair quite a lot. When I asked her where she was from, this is how the conversation turned out:
"Where are you from?"
"Dartford in Kent."
"Oh, DL has family in Dartfor don't you?"
"O really, where about in Dartford?"
"--- Lane."
"Oh gosh, that's where I live. Who do you know on --- lane?"
"Pat and Tom."
"They are my next door neighbours."
So it turned out that Lucy's aunt and uncle have been living next door to the woman, Irene she was called, for years, and when it was discovered Irene remembered DL from when she was a little girl, and DL had fussed her dog. Such a small world! Of all the countries in the world, all the cities in that country, all the hotels in that city, and all the tables in that hotel! We sat with them most nights, and had such a laugh, the two of them sharing family information etc. We even persuaded her to get in to the pool, something she was reluctant to do because of her walking difficulty, and the fact that she couldn't swim. She loved it though, I think it made her holiday.

So yes, all in all a fantastic holiday, now I have to start getting organised, as I leave for Zambia on Sunday. I wish I'd left a bit more time between the two trips now, but I haven't, so I'm busy getting final stuff together and washing and repacking again. My mother is coming over tonight to stay and help with the ironing I hope, and tomorrow I'm walking with three guide dogs, so the centre can pin point exactly the right dog for me, in case one comes up while I'm away. I'm hoping they'll hold on to it for me so I can start training when I get back.

This afternoon DL has a job interview, so I'm going to make sure she's sorted before she has to go go.

1 comment:

Francesca said...

What a lovely holiday! I'm really glad you and DL had a great time. I've not been to Tunisia, but it sounds nice and the cultural experience must be enlightening.

It's great the two of you got to spend time away together before your trip to Zambia. You are the sweetest gals!

Good luck to DL on the job interview. I hope all went well and everything goes in her favour.

Hugs to the both of you!