I ate a fish for lunch at a restaurant that overlooked the town -- basically just what you see here. The menu promised choices of pizza or steak but "of course" those were not available. No problem I guess. This was a common occurence at restaurants outside of the high season.
That night I was back in Tunis and on a mission to find a souvenir. Naturally I didn't want any of the tourist crap they sell everywhere: baskets, jewellery, leather, pottery, carpets, pipes, beaten copper plates, gypsum rocks, blah! Instead, I wanted something authentic. I was running around trying to obtain one of the propaganda portraits of president Ben Ali that hang in every shop, business, train and bus station in the country. 'Not sure if you would find his likeness in private homes, because I got the sense that most Tunisians don't really like their president too much. Now, at least in America EVENTUALLY someone new gets elected. The photo that accompanies this article about Tunisia's pretend-democracy might give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
I was hesitant to just steal one of these posters off the wall of some public place for fear of being arrested as a political instigator. I set out by inquiring at shops on the street. I'd point at their local image of the president and ask where they got it. Given how many copies I'd seen around, I thought they would just be available for free at some nearby party headquarters. Unfortunately, people either didn't know, thought I wanted to buy their portrait, or gave me directions that didn't lead anywhere. Soon I was joined on my quest by some Tunisian guys who started a conversation with me on the street. We walked around for about half an hour trying to find a source for the poster but weren't doing much better than I was alone. Eventually however we ended up at a frame and photo center in the medina. The guy wanted 15D for the poster with frame! This was outrageous since I didn't want a frame, only the image, but he wouldn't sell it alone. I was in a bad bargaining position since I clearly didn't want to leave the country early tomorrow morning without a poster. I ended up buying the framed version for 13D, and had him remove the image from the frame so I could roll it up and take it in my bag. One of my companions was pretty happy to take home the now empty frame for free.
By the way, my new friends were called DJ Dzou and Sharon. We walked out of the medina to Cafe Paris to have a drink. As usual, I paid for our beers, just to be nice. First off, these guys are still trying to understand why I like their president so much. This took a while to explain but eventually Dzou understood that it was not admiration but basically a joke. They thought this was pretty funny. Next they started telling me about their sex, drugs and techno music lifestyle. I won't get into the details but they were extensive and suggested the existence of a kind of Tunisian woman that I hadn't met on my trip. True or not, this was all pretty entertaining.
Dzou wanted to go back to his 'office' to burn me a CD of his music but there was a bit of an incident as we got up to leave. Sharon had ordered two more beers after my complementary drink, and evidently he expected me to pay for those too! Unbelievable!