Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cruise Day 4-Tunisia, Africa

On Day 4, we booked the cruise's excursion for Tunisia.  It was much cheaper than the other excursions they offered, and we felt like being in a country where we had never been, it would be a good thing to have a tour guide.  We brought the girls with us, just so they could say, "I've been to Africa." But they did not want to go. They wanted to stay on the ship.  Throughout the day, though, I wished I would have left them on the ship.  They're bored with touring new countries now.  

So, we climbed on the tour bus and took a ride into the city of Tunis, Tunisia, Africa.  

I'll be honest. I don't remember much about this trip.  What I do know is this city dates back thousands of years.  A lot of the information was very interesting, it was just hard to retain because it was so hot, and I had grouchy kids.  So, you're all going to be so sad that I don't have a super long commentary.  ;)

There are just two things you should know about Tunisia.  The first known record is from the year 5,000 B.C. B.C.! 7,000 years.  And the first city "Carthage" that still has parts of it standing was built in the 9th Century B.C.    We saw lots of very old Roman bathhouses, archaeological sites and graves.  

The other thing to know is that it's not quite the "Africa" most people associate with the continent.  It is made up of mostly Arabic Muslims.  Much of the language was written in Arabic, but sometimes you'd see English.

First we visited an old water system that has been around since carrying water up to one of the oldest parts of the city, called Carthage.  It also gave us a good view of the Carthage up on the hill.  It actually was quite beautiful, but we didn't stay there long.  

Do I look like such a tourist or what?

A cool Stop sign

Brian looks like a tourist too! That was a last minute purchase because he lost his first hat.   We left it on the cruise ship after we realized we weren't as fond of it ON as it looked in the store.

The first archaeological site.  These are graves from an ancient Roman Empire.

An Ancient Bathhouse
This used to be two stories and a pretty impressive bathhouse with a full irrigation system.  They made a smaller replica of it (see picture below).

The irrigation system

The pillars in the background show where and how tall the second story would have been.

I just love "people pictures."

This was the main backdrop for the professional cruise photographer to take pictures.    As much as I wished we would have bought theirs cuz it was such good quality, we caught our own, so it's all good.  We took advantage of them knowing the good spot. :)

I wish this picture turned out better.  The pillar was pretty amazing.  Still in tact with the hand carvings for 1,000s of years.
Carthage Ruins
This is the oldest part of the city.  I didn't hear much of the commentary as I was chasing Spencer around.  But the jist was that it's old.  Really old.  And the statues they had were pretty cool.

The Beginning of The Pin Trading Phenomenon
Do you see this sad little girl sitting on the wall?  Let me tell you a little story of why she is sitting so forlorn on the wall of the Carthage Museum while we're all listening to the tour guide's commentary.  There is something I call The Pin Trading Phenomenon.  Avid Disney fans (including many, many adults, as well as kids) collect and trade pins with other Disney fans.  They do it at Disney Theme Parks, Disney stores, and as I came to find out, on the cruise too.

On our cruise, there are a few opportunities to trade with other cruise guests, crew members and officials.  The girls got wind of this and of course used a lot of their spending money to buy their first pins.  And then of course, they had to have a lanyard to put them on.  So because they spent most of their souvenir money on their pin and lanyard, Xoe was pretty dang proud of it.

Until it fell off.

Somewhere in Tunisia, Africa.

When she realized it, she almost couldn't handle it.  She was so deflated.  So, this is her shortly afterward, and trying very hard to not cry.

This Aussie Dave. Remember him from the first day?  He was our friend... but after this day, we loved him even more. He was standing right next to me when I realized where and why she was there.  After inquiring, and after I explained, he just nonchalantly strolled on over to her.

 I had no idea what their conversation was about, but next thing I knew she got the hugest smile on her face and came back in the happiest mood.  That little girl almost couldn't contain herself.  Look at her face below.

Later, I found out that Dave had gone over to ask what was wrong, and after she explained he asked her what her favorite character was.  "Donald," she said.  He then asked her if it would cheer her up if he promised to go back to the ship and try and find a Donald pin, just to trade with her.

Little did we know that the workers have access to a plethora of pins.  Even so, this is when the phenomenon started.  Dave ended up telling his friends this story, which started multiple workers and employees dropping pins in bags on our door and under our doorway with cute notes and little games and certificates saying how much they hoped the girls would love these pins.  Everyone knew them by name by now, and were discussing them at lunch, in meetings and at events.  The girls had about 20 pins, but only 15 pins by the end of the cruise after giving a couple to their friends.  They also made friends with the Pin Trading Director who invited them to be Official Pin Traders, which meant they got to stand next to the Captain, Cruise Director and 6 other officials dressed up in their official Cruise Marine Uniforms on our formal night.  I'll post pictures of that on the day it happened, but at least you now know where it all started.

The Souks
I don't have any pictures of the Souks, but know that I don't want to remember this horrible experience.  This is one of the reasons I want to choose to remember NOT to go back to Tunisia.  

The Souks are tiny little walkways inside these buildings, almost like flea markets.  There are tiny little stores to go in and shop, but these shops contain the rudest and most offensive Tunisians I HAVE EVER MET.  My friend, Lindsey, who went down there on her own came back stressed and wasn't surprised when I told her I was about ready to punch someone.  These salespeople were so devious and dishonest I couldn't even believe it.  There were no prices on anything, they only bartered with you.  They started with exorbitant prices and got mad if you left their store.  So mad that they followed you down the little street way yelling at you. Yes, that happened to us.  One guy started yelling at me when I refused to buy something, he then put two of the item in my bag and tried forcing me to pay for it.  When I wouldn't, he slapped Brian on the way out! Lindsey and her husband were told to follow the guy, that they had this amazing view, so they followed them down this winding hallway, which ended up inside his store.  And he expected them to buy something. Need I repeat how angry they got if you didn't?  We were being tricked all over the place, even by our tourguide who was probably getting a kickback from the store he led us into. I felt much like the unknowing tourists who were being led to the Volturi vampires to be eaten.  Never again.

Outside the Ship
This is the front of the entrance to the port.  I thought it was a really cool building.

This was inside the port right outside our ship.  What would Africa be without camels?

And what would the night be without our towel animal?