I’ve just returned from a fantastic 10-day trip to Tunisia in northern Africa. I had some advance concerns about political unrest, but felt safe while there, thanks in large measure to the great planning and advice from Mosaic North Africa who arranged our trip and practicing common sense. This Canadian-based company with partnerships throughout North Africa arranged a rich and safe trip. Through them, we booked an English-speaking driver and guide for our 3 days in Tunis, viewing the Roman ruins of Dougga, and Carthage, visiting the medina and seaside town of Sidi Bou Said and spending an inspiring morning in the Bardo Museum with its world-renowned collection of mosaics. Our guide, Rafiki, met us in our hotel (Majestic Hotel) each morning and walked us back into the hotel after each day of rich sightseeing. He was university-educated in Tunisian history, took great pride in his country, and was on very good terms with locals whom we met at different sites. As a result, we got a customized tutorial on North African history and felt comfortable wherever we went.
Mosaic North Africa also arranged for a one-week trip down to the island of Djerba where we stayed with friends and explored this island of diverse cultures, great markets, and endless beaches of white sand. We saw flocks of feeding flamingoes as they migrated north, and sampled wonderful local fish. Everywhere we ate “Brick”, and soon became aficionados of this deep-fried savory pastry with a seasoned and partially cooked egg inside. On day and overnight trips to the mainland we stayed in the cave hotel in Matmata (Hotel Marhala Matmata)—a truly unique experience, explored the inhabited UNESCO heritage site of Chenini –an ancient city carved into the mountainside, and even took a short camel ride over the desert dunes, returning to eat bread cooked over ashes in the desert.
“Traveling as two single women, we learned much about the different cultures, and adaptation to demanding geography. For taking photos of people or demonstrations of crafts, we learned to ask in advance and to tip modestly, sometimes through our guides. We respectfully wore clothing that covered our arms and long jackets to cover our backsides whenever we were in any public places. Our guides were adept in Arabic, and many locals speak some English, but by practicing our rudimentary French and Arabic, we engaged with different locals in shops and taxis, learning that much more about life in Tunisia. Overall, it was a fantastic experience.