Dave the motorhome is waiting to move into a space in the Youth Hostel car park in Sousse. It’s packed in here as there is an event going on, so we’re sitting by the entrance waiting for a gap near the power sockets – we’ve been told one should come available later.
This morning we knew we’d have a bit of time to kill before our washing was ready at 11am, so while I had a long, hot shower Jay and Charlie explored Monastir a bit further. We’d only really touched on the medina as it was new and a tad unexciting. Our friendly security guard broke the bad news, there was a problem with the washer so our stuff won’t be ready until 3pm – Jay had already bet me an evening dog walk that it wouldn’t be done on time so looks like I get to take the pooch out tonight last thing.
With plenty of time to kill and the sun shining down we all went for a walk, sitting under the shade of the trees in the park area between the Ribat and Bourguiba’s mausoleum Charlie’s latest fan club was established. A group of girls were walking past, spotted him and rapidly changed direction making a bee line for the furry one. Laughing and smiling they took each others photos taken holding him with their mobiles, giggled, thanked us and walked about 50m away to stop and look at their images.
We slowly made our way into the medina and no sooner were we in it than a man motioned for us to stop by his cafe for a drink, well we had plenty of time on our hands so we sat in the sunshine and watched the world go by over a small, bitter coffee for Jay and a large, sweet mint tea for me.
Paying our 3TD (€1.50) Jay took the lead as we retraced his footsteps from this morning. The medina may be new, mainly car filled and not as exciting as the one in Sfax, but there is still always loads to see – especially if you stay away from the tourist area.
After wandering around we started to head back to Dave via the tourist zone as I am once again in need of sunglasses – my €4 bargain ones I picked up in Spain about a year ago have cracked through the bridge and are now only held together by the lens, it’s simple a matter of time before they fall into two parts while on my face. I’d priced up the sunglasses in the zombie-assistant filled shopping centre yesterday, so now knew that the going rate was around 5DT (€2.50) and all the makes are of course designer!
With Jay behind me, armed with camera, I started down the souvenir gauntlet. Shop keepers lined up to my left trying to steer me into their shops on my right. ‘Lovely blankets, only 5TD’, ‘Everything in here 1TD – like poundland’, they all had the patter, but I knew full well that once inside the prices and offers fade rapidly. Laughing and smiling at the sales pitches I carried on, soon emerging from the other end unscathed but sunglasses free.
Passing a final few shops the shop keeper just smiled and said hello, Jay asked if he had sunglasses and he told us to follow him muttering something about having one but it was broken. In the back of his shop he opened the stock cupboard and pulled out a broken, dusty sunglasses rack with three pairs of ‘National Health’ specials clinging to it as if their lives depended on it. We politely declined his offer and wandered out of his shop, then he started to tell us that his neighbouring shop had some and walked towards it pointing. We smiled and said no thanks and started to walk away, but before I knew it I was face first in the street having gone over on my ankle stepping off the unusually high curb.
Jay and the shop keeper swarmed around me checking I was OK, I thanked the shop keeper and with a growing feeling of nausea asked Jay to pull me to my feet and get me around the corner so I could sit down. Hobbling off my knee and ankle hurt, but it was mainly my pride that was dented – good job it was a quiet street we were in. Sitting down in front of the ever-closed ONA shop, Jay carefully checked my knee, no broken skin, just the start of a lovely bruise. Desperate to get back to the comfort of Dave I started walking back, and within seconds Jay was helping me along as I felt fainter and fainter. My husband the hero fended off Tat sellers as he half-carried me over to a bench in the park we’d been in earlier.
Reaching Dave, Jay got the painkillers and the frozen octopus from the freezer and I spent the rest of the afternoon with my leg up, octopus on my knee, feeling a bit sorry for myself (and having a sneaky nap). Promptly at 3pm the security guard appeared with our washing, just as we were debating if we’d ever see it again. The cost he said was Dix TD, but he drew 100 on the side of Dave. Surely it wasn’t €50 for a few bits of washing, of course it wasn’t it was €5, they do like to add extra 0’s to things around here! Thanking him we gave him another 5TD and he assumed we were stopping another night, but when Jay explained it was for him for helping us and keeping us safe he beamed, shook Jay’s hand and walked back to his hut.
Dave packed up we set off for the short drive to Sousse. A bit of skilful navigating from me helped us avoid the middle of the town and Jay’s perfect driving (I honestly don’t know how he does it as stuff comes at you from every angle here) soon had us parked in the youth hostel. My leg is back on the pillows minus the octopus which is now being cooked for Jay’s tea. He’s been for a scout around. We’re about 200m from the beach and next to the start of the big posh hotels. A mile or so south of us is the old town, with its ribat, mosque and medina and just around the corner from us is a shopping centre with an English Pub! Jay has likened the place to Albufeira in Portugal – a low rise, party place. Well it is Tunisia’s most popular resort!
Tomorrow we’ll explore and tonight Jay might finally get a long awaited alcoholic beer to celebrate our 500 days on the road!