In 2005, I had one of these spontaneous ideas to book a holiday and go alone somewhere because I felt overwhelmed and trapped. I was still dealing with depression and considered it a great idea to head off alone. This time, I booked a week to Hammamet in Tunisia. And to work against loneliness, I booked a couple of tours – one to Tunis and one 2-day-tour through Southern Tunisia to see a bit of the country and the Sahara.
In my teens I had been fascinated by the Arabic culture and the Sahara – especially the Tuareg. I knew it would be very touristy but I still wanted to see the edge of the great desert.
From Hammamet I remember only the markets and the extensive beach. As a single female you had to say a lot of no at both places.
In Tunis we also went to the old souks – markets – but also to Carthago which was exciting because I read books about it and learned the history in school. Hannibal, Rome, Punic Wars… suddenly I was in the midst of all those old stones which had been there at the time.
We also went to Sidi Bou Said, a nice little town where lots of artists had stayed or lived – namingly Macke and Klee.
The second tour, I went on, took me to Sfax and then inlands to Touzeur and Douz. We rode camels in the Sahara, went to an oasis and did some 4 wheel drive sliding down desert waves. I also went to the film set of Star Wars. It all gave me a very good idea what Tunisia was mostly made of – sand!
On the last day, the inevitable happened. A guy talked to me and I thought it would be nice to have company. He invited me to his friends, we hang out and had wine and I had a fling. I kept a bit in touch afterwards but lost contact until he called me months later when I was in Portugal. After I came back from Portugal and was not getting my life together very well, mostly spending months of waiting to write my last exam in uni, I went to visit him and stay with him for a week or so. I flew to Sousse and he took me to Gafsa where he was from. But I wasn’t allowed to meet his family or anything. We then stayed in Sousse and I met some of his friends. Apparently we were together… in aftersight surely an interesting life experience but also slightly dumb and completely doomed to fail. I went again to Tunisia some months later and stayed in a hotel in Sousse. It was mostly fighting and I cancelled my third trip after that and “broke up”.
What I loved was hanging out with the guys in a cafe, smoke shisha and have mint tea. I certainly didn’t really belong into that male area but as a tourist you might look dumb a lot of times but that also gives one freedoms.