This infernal continent. If I was following the original plan, I would have picked up my visas in Istanbul and continued on to Central Asia a month ago. But there were two nagging countries, two of the largest in Africa in fact, that had barred my entry, even by an inch. They were Libya and Algeria. I had tried to get into Algeria once before and Libya twice, only to find that they were not to be trifled with. And so it would add an extra month onto The Odyssey and cost me over £1000, but I had to do it their way, and (putting it mildly) neither of them like tourists very much.
Why would they? They have OIL! And the oil will last forever and ever and ever and there will never be a day when it runs out. And while the governments make all their money through the backhanders which the oil provides! Huzzah! And the commoners? Sod ’em. They can make do. They don’t need the millions of tourists dollars that flood into Egypt, Tunisia or Morocco every year. They’d only spend it on fizzy cola bottles and sherbet flying saucers. By the way – check out my new palace! Nice innit?
Well to cut a short story even shorter, I arrived in Tunisia a few hours late (naturally) and by 9pm, I was outside the Africa Hotel in Tunis waiting for my CouchSurf contact to pick me up. After a few worried moments in which I thought he wasn’t going to show up (sorry for waking you up Mand!) Djamel, or Dja (pronounced ‘Jar’) collared me on the street and took me back to his gaff. There I met his American girlfriend, the delectable Claire from California.
Dja is originally from Algeria, but he grew up in France and has been working here in Tunis for the last ten years. Claire on the other hand was one of those American Peace Corp LUNATICS who throw themselves head-first into Africa and expect to come out a stable and adjusted person. NOTE TO PEACE CORPS-WANNABES: Go to South America, India or SE Asia. Trust me. Africa will chew you up and suck you dry. You have been warned.
Anyway, while Claire and I compared travel scars, Dja fed us all beers and rounded off an unpleasant day on a horrid boat with a tremendously pleasant evening in the company of new-found friends.