Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Touring and Exploring

I just got back from a wonderful holiday in Tunisia, feeling refreshed and full of energy. Mr Zeus, me and two friends bundled ourselves off on a guided tour composed of 3 large busfulls of Greeks.

I found Tunisians to be some of the friendliest people I've ever met, and rightly proud of their country. Tunisia is the only African nation that owes no international debt at all. Tunisians are also very skillful at making guests feel at home.

Hence picture which we took at a remote rest stop in the middle of nowhere. I found that in areas frequented by Greek tourists, the locals had usually picked up the trick of making frappe.

Now, only the Greeks can get away with having a national staple provided overseas without being accused of being too chicken or arrogant to try the local drinks. Sure, the Americans and the British have managed to get burgers and chips and fish and chips to appear on almost all tourist menus, but frappe and the Greeks is different for two reasons:

1) Without frappe, Greeks die. This is a fact. They just fall over and die. No government wants the paperwork that comes with scores of Greek tourists falling dead on the soil of their nation. That's why they provide frappe stations at convenient places, and that's why diabetics pack insulin for their holiday and Greeks pack frappe making material.

2) The Greeks have a history of not really upsetting any country. Thus they can thunder into a cafe and wonder loudly why there is no frappe without pissing off the locals. Almost everyone likes Greeks. That's why they don't want them to die (See previous point)

I loved Tunisia. The food was great, the people were fantastic and they must be doing something seriously right to impress 3 whole buses of Greeks, to the point that they commented on how much calmer the people were and how much more polite they were to each other on the roads. And they said this as a compliment, not as is usually meant which is by poking fun at people who are quieter than they are. Indeed, everywhere we went, the cacophony generated was entirely Greek. We moved in a haze of self generated noise.

It was the people that made the holiday so memorable. One of the funniest moments came when me, Mr Zeus and a lady in our group jumped in a taxi. The lady began fumbling around for the seat belt and realised it didn't work. "This doesn't work?" she asked the taxi driver, to which he replied with howls of laughter and proceeded to drive us back to our hotel dancing in his seat to Tunisian songs set as high as the volume would go.

Image: My own