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Tunisia – Portugal (Days 76-81)

November 22, 2010

Day 76 (10/15/2010):

Somehow, spontaneously, our Tunisian friends, Walid, Ines, and our French friend, Alice wanted to go on a road trip down to the south of Tunisia with us. It was awesome because I love road trips and we actually had a car.

Wagner somehow survived the night from his sickness, so it looked like we were ready to head out.

Our first stop was El Jem, where North Africa’s best Roman monument stands. The African version of the colosseum is an amazing sight because of its humongous size. The lack of big buildings around it adds to the impressiveness. This is also where my sickness hit me; my next 6 hours of in the car was living hell as I fought bouts of diarrhea and nausea. It’s pretty funny in hindsight.

We drove throughout the day to reach Tataouine, where the planet in Star Wars is named after. We may have done other things, but I was too sick to remember.

Day 77 (10/16/2010):

In the morning, we had a traditional Tunisian breakfast, and headed out to the many Ksours in the area. Ksours are basically fortified points that were created by the Berbers during their reign.

Sorry for the short version, but we saw about 3 ksours then headed to Matmata, probably most famous for Luke Skywalker’s home from the first Star Wars movie. We stopped by Hotel Sidi Driss, as it was the specific location used for the Star Wars movie and most importantly, they had a bar. I was surprised how long I lasted without alcohol at this point, but it was a cool change in pace for myself, my body, and definitely my stomach.

At this point, Walid was struck with the same sickness as Jason and I, and we took the initiative to head to Douz and stay there for the night.

Day 78 (10/17/2010):

We woke up to the blazing sun shining down upon us.

We met with one of Alice’s friends who took us to his home and served us tea and dates while we waited for the camel. His whole family was really hospitable, very standard Arab hospitality.

We took our first ride into the desert with camels. After walking about half an hour into the desert, we all took a break to play in the sand. Unfortunately, my camel was a bit stubborn and did not want to put me down for about 5 minutes and stayed in a position where I was left hanging in a very uncomfortable position.

The sand was surprisingly different. I expected it to be similar to the beach sands, but this sand was finer, like the sand that you would use in colorful sand art. The sand dunes looked like brown snow, but it was a lot harder than snow. There is definitely one thing that happens, the sand sticks to your body and I did not get it completely off until 8 hours later in the shower.

As Walid and I were still sick, we stopped our road trip short and headed home to Tunis.

Day 79 (10/18/2010):

Amen dropped us off at the airport and we said our teary goodbyes.

Nothing particular occurred on this day. We got to Madrid in one piece.

Although, while we were in the metro station, Wagner saw some lady stand up, go near the exit doors, and start urinating. As I was oblivious to this whole event, when we were leaving and I saw a puddle, I told Wagner, “Watch out, someone must have spilled something.” Wagner gave me a dumbfounded stare at first and then explained the situation later on.

We took an overnight train to Portugal that night.

Day 80 (10/19/2010):

R&R in Portugal while still trying to get over the turista.

Day 81 (10/20/2010):

After doing a little rest and relaxation and feeling a bit better, our host, Manuel, volunteered to take us to Sintra, the famous summer house location to the Portuguese kings. We climbed the long steps up to the Castelo del Mouros, which is the ruin of a Moorish Castle with an amazing 360-degree view of the city.

We also went to the Quinta de Regaleira, which is basically a 19th century fun house filled with underground walkways, fountains, caves, and all sorts of monuments. If museums and castles bore you, then this is definitely a stop for everyone.

Random Conversation:

Aunt Tina: That boy that lives in our house, where is he from again? I can never remember his name, it’s so hard.

Jason: Would his name happen to be !bli (Russel Peters reference)

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