Well, Tunisia is a friendly place. It started immediately, when the security guard at the airport wouldn’t give me my passport unless I said I’d be Facebook friends with him. He must have known I’ve been feeling a little lonely, so it was very kind of him. Not! Hahaha – I am not lonely, and my passport is in my maiden name, airport guard!! Good luck!
We are on holiday here for a week, and then our month of jet-setting comes to an end. Out of all the places I’ve ever visited, this is where I feel most uneasy when on my own. We’ve gone out a a few times, and whenever SB isn’t with me, all kinds of people start conversations with me. Generally they’re men, and generally their conversation skills are limited to ‘English? Deutsch? Russki?’ I mean, I’m flattered, but on the whole I like a little more variation in a conversation.
Having said that, I have gone out running. It may sound stupid based on what I’ve just written – but I’m sure their familiarity is just a consequence of what happens when our culture meets theirs, and that they don’t mean any harm. Any unease is my issue as this isn’t usual behaviour where I live, but that’s not to say their intentions aren’t anything more than curiosity. So I wasn’t going to let that stop me train, readers, no siree Bob!
But let’s not be stupid about it. There are a few precautions I took, which are worth doing whenever you’re running in a new place:
- I checked with the hotel that it was ok to run, and that it was ok to run in my usual running gear (vest top rather than covered arms for example)
- I took some ID with me
- I checked the route and made sure it was all main roads
- I told SB where I was going, and what time I’d be back
- I did take my music, but had it on a low volume
- I didn’t really make eye contact with many people, but did pay attention to who I saw
- I chose an out-and-back route for simplicity so it was harder to get lost, and so people are more likely to remember me if they saw me twice and anything did happen (morbid thought!)
I went on a four mile run towards the town centre and back, and I was the only runner I saw. As soon as you leave the hotel, you realise how poor Tunisia actually is: you can’t escape the rubbish on the streets, the cracked pavements, unfinished buildings and the complete-but-tired buildings.
The number of men I saw outweighed the number of women by about 2:1. However I did see groups of women cleaning up the streets. They had those claws on sticks which my Nana has to grab things – as well as pinching our arms when she’s feeling mischievous – and the streets were lined with little piles of rubbish they had collected. I imagine it’s their job, but it warmed my heart a little to see the streets being tended for like that even if they are being paid to do it.
Running in Tunisia reminded me of Sydney, climate-wise: it was very humid and the sun was very strong. Call me crazy, but I actually really enjoyed it. My muscles warmed up very quickly, and I was able to keep an average 8:30 mile pace.
Of course, it could have felt good simply because, for the last four days, all I have done is read books, drink cocktails and eat.
If anyone is looking for a good read, I definitely recommend ‘The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair’ by Joel Dicker. It’s a really well-written mystery, and I devoured the 600 pages in two days. It’s soooooo good!
Anyway, hope you’re all having a good week.