Danny Breslin

How it is…

International Incident

Before I met Marion I wasn’t much of a traveller. I’d been abroad before but only to Europe: working in Bremerhaven, following New Model Army to Bree in Belgium, and a couple of lost weekends in Amsterdam; not very much at all. Marion though was a proper traveller, she had gone around the world a couple of times and seen many exotic places – unlike myself whose idea of exotic was stumbling around off my face in the red light district wondering why the women in the windows kept waving at me!

When we met and moved in together, she decided that she would take me on my first proper holiday (great, I’ll book the caravan). To prevent me getting out of my depth first time out she took me away for a week in Tunisia, to Port El Kantaoui. This was before the amazing time I had in Goa that I have related in a few previous posts.

I wanted to relate a story from when we were there. Don’t expect alot of photos though, they were not taken on a digital camera and so are tucked away in an album somewhere around the house, I’m not even sure if we kept the negatives, sorry folks.

We took an excursion on a coach from our hotel, checking out the local sights. We went to a souk in the morning and I was immediately out of my depth. Let me explain, I wasn’t keen on crowds unless it was at a footie match, at least then everyone is there for the same reason and everyone’s facing the same way (I’m not making much sense here.) I also didn’t like strangers shouting at me in the street; I didn’t do that to others, why should it happen to me? I didn’t like to be touched by people I didn’t know – and I especially, ESPECIALLY didn’t like strangers manhandling my girlfriend!

At that time all these sights and sounds were alien to me and it was getting a bit much. Marion saw my distress, possibly alerted to it by my telling a marketeer to take his hands off her or lose them, and suggested we make our way back to the coach.

We found a quieter shop at lunchtime and went in to buy a few baubles to take home. The shopkeeper took an instant shine to Marion; maybe it was because she was blonde, but to be honest she has always turned heads, unlike me who turns nothing but stomachs. He starts telling me what a beautiful lady she is and would I be interested in selling her to him, it was probably the same spiel he used on all his “Breeeteesh” customers. “How much?” I asked, just out of interest you understand.

“200 camels.” Came the offer.

“Behave bruv, she’s worth at least 500.” Well they do like to haggle.

“400 and not a camel more.” He said firmly, wanting to close the deal.

Marion was shocked,  “What are you doing?” She shrieked.

“Shut up woman, after he spends a week with you I’ll be able to get you back for a donkey!”

The doghouse can be a very cold, dark and lonely place.

As we were driven towards our next destination I asked the tour guide why so many of the houses were unfinished. He told us that there was a roof tax that didn’t apply if there was no roof so they all pretended to be building a second storey to avoid paying it. Genius really if you think about it.

We came to our destination, El Djem, it was truly a place worth seeing. It was like a smaller version of the colisseum, built by the Romans right there in the desert. It was in better repair than its big brother in Rome and was still in use for concerts and such like. In fact it’s the third largest Roman ampitheatre in the world and they told had been used for scenes in the film Gladiator.

el djem

Standing there on the sand, before the stone terraces and towering arches, where so much blood had been spilt for the entertainment of the masses was a weird feeling, both disturbing yet exciting at the same time. I could imagine standing there with the braying crowd calling my name, the blood of another gladiator sprayed across me and spilling out into the earth. Sorry folks, it’s just a boy thing!

It was hot, I don’t mean like the heat of high summer here where it can get a bit uncomfortable, I’m talking the temperature hitting 40 degrees – damn you Mr Celsius! It was so hot the Tunisian tour guide wouldn’t venture out of the shade. Even my beloved floppy England cricket hat couldn’t cope with the weight of the sunshine. It was so hot you could have wrung the sweat out of the air.

I had never been that hot and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. We decided it might be prudent to retreat to the comfort of our air-conditioned coach. On the way we were stopped by a man selling postcards. We asked him how much and he gave us a cheap price so I handed over my money. In return he gave me a tattered old street map of the area. “What’s this? I paid for the postcards.”

“No no, the postcards are extra.”

“Well I don’t want this, just give me the money back.”

“No you give me more money.”

I felt hot and bothered and I wasn’t going to let it go as I felt my hackles rise. “I don’t want this, give me my money back and I’ll be on my way.” The heat and his arrogant expression pushing my temperature up. He lifted his chin and sneered at me, I snapped. I ripped off my hat and sunglasses: “GIVE ME MY F****** MONEY!!!” Marion sprung in front of me and pushed the man backwards then spun and grabbed my arm. “Let’s go!” She insisted, pulling me away.

We got back to the coach, my breathing was slowing. She said that the veins in my head and the tendons in my neck had stood out and I had literally turned purple. She told me that the locals would have mobbed me if she hadn’t pulled me away, I shrugged, “Sorry hon, it was the principle of the thing.” She explained that the principle could have cost me my life for the equivalent of two pence. Well when she puts it like that…

On the coach on the way back to our hotel the tour guide proudly announced that we were passing the presidential palace, I made him scowl when I asked him if they had finished it yet.

 

 

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February 22, 2013 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , , ,

16 Comments »

  1. I couldn’t stop laughing, I could just imagine the expression on the tour guide’s face when you asked if they’ve finished the palace yet! I’m glad your girlfriend pulled you away, you could have been mobbed! Love the way you write, there’s always humour lurking beneath every phrase regardless of the situation, thanks for sharing!
    🙂

    Comment by Seyi sandra | February 22, 2013 | Reply

    • High praise coming from a writer as good as you. Ah listen to us, the founder members of the Seyi Sandra David and Danny Breslin fan club! lol.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | February 26, 2013 | Reply

      • Yeah!!!!! Bring it on!!!!
        🙂 🙂 🙂

        Comment by Seyi sandra | February 26, 2013

  2. You’re so bad!!

    Comment by Clowie | February 22, 2013 | Reply

    • Sorry Clowie, sometimes I just can’t help it. ; )

      Comment by Danny Breslin | February 27, 2013 | Reply

  3. I’ve turned a lovely shade of envy green over here. Tunisia is on my travel list. Though it sounds like quite the introduction to international travel for you! The customs and culture must have taken some time to adjust to. But what a great adventure! The amphitheatre is awesome, great shot of it. And you caught the travel bug after that, I presume?

    I have yet to take the boyfriend on his first international trip. We’re talking New Zealand or Greece to start him in gently. 🙂

    Comment by Audrey | February 22, 2013 | Reply

    • Travelling got easier once I got it into my head that I wasn’t at home anymore.
      I would love to visit New Zealand, if he doesn’t want to go my bags are already packed!

      Comment by Danny Breslin | February 27, 2013 | Reply

  4. I also hate crowds and people yelling at me to buy things. But I suppose I’d yell at people to buy things if I needed the money. What to do.

    Comment by Yaz | February 22, 2013 | Reply

    • I know, it’s a bit of a pain for them having to compete with everyone selling the same tourist tat, I suppose they have no choice but to push themselves at you.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | February 27, 2013 | Reply

  5. You are a handful! 😉
    Sounds like a fun trip overall. I long to travel to such exoctic places! Maybe someday…

    Comment by Denise Hisey | February 24, 2013 | Reply

  6. I’ve been called that before!
    Honestly Denise, if you want to see these places then you should get it done. One day you will find yourself looking back and thinking “Oh I wish that I’d have gone there and seen that….”

    Comment by Danny Breslin | February 27, 2013 | Reply

  7. How interesting! I would’ve ripped his head off too… hehehe Yeah, I would be good at creating internationals incidences too…*evil grin*

    Comment by colliesofthemeadow | March 6, 2013 | Reply

    • Now then, behave yourself! It’s not big and it’s not clever. Seriously though Chuck, some of these people think that they can take liberties with you because you’re a tourist.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | March 6, 2013 | Reply

  8. Good one… if they had finished the palace…?
    Ah, tourists… bread and butter of beautiful places with beautiful penny-wise people! :))
    Really enjoyed your narration of this incident.

    Comment by mj | March 8, 2013 | Reply

  9. […] story ever), France and Belgium, special memories from India and almost causing a bloodbath in Tunisia. And if you’ve read Me & Gus on the Roof of the World then you’ll know all about […]

    Pingback by Bogged down « Danny Breslin | November 15, 2013 | Reply


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