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Sousse, Tunisia

In the footsteps of Monty Python

Arriving in Sousse was my first meeting with arab culture. Maybe not the most authentic, as this part of Tunisia is fairly westernized and full of tourists. So was also the case of Sousse, but luckily it rained like crazy at the moment of my arrival, and all the hustlers was busying hustling the tourists that was trying to find shelter, while I was able to stand peacefully and wet, watching from a distance. Some of those tourists really needed to study the art of haggling from Monty Python's Life of Brian. Since it was late I decided to go to my hostel and die for the night.

The first part of the next day I spent wandering and wondering among the totally commersialized part of the city, haggling with the salesman and drinking shitloads of sweet tunisian coffee and some very interesting mint tea, served in tiny glasses. After spending a too big amount of money on things I probably would regret buying, I figured a dip in the sea would be good to cool me off. The water felt good on my body, salty and blueish-green.

Entering the old portal to the medina I was transported a couple of thousand years back in time. Sousse was founded 900 years BC which makes it even older than the ruin town of Kartago. I went up the big spiralling steps to the moskee and watched the beautiful view of the structure of the narrow alleys in the medina and the walls that separates the past from the present. Stunning.

Waiting for a train to Monastir I almost died of the smell from the fish market along the train station of Bab Jedid. As much as I would like to escape, I had to be here to catch a train to Monastir, which was the backdrop for much of the filming of Life of Brian. Having escaped the smell of the fish and arrived safely, I located quickly legendary places like the square where the Roman governor Michael Palin is urged to welease Woger and the tower that Brian falls from into the spacecraft. Hehe, totally wicked. Everything is inside the fortified monastery of the Ribat of Harthema, a truly amazing place. It was built in 796, and is a big maze much like an Escher drawing. I spent hours in there, completely lost in the maze, reciting lines from the movie, feeling the power of Terry Gilliam flow through my earthly shell of a body.

Looking forward to more travelling in this country, hopefully also to the south. By the way, travelling from city to city using a louage is recommended! A louage (the word is french and translates to rental) is a shared taxi that travels betweens town and cities. Hop on and share a ride, it is cheap and an easy way to meet local people!

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