I don’t know if this is common or not, but last week, from the 4th of June, I left England for the first time. We never went abroad when I was younger as we just stuck to the classic British holiday at Butlins. This trip to Tunisia was just unbelievable though as there was just so many things different that I never even thought could be.
First off, which may or may not be cliched or expected, but the heat, bloody hell the heat! I thought the weather would just be like England on a really hot day but all the time, oh how wrong could I be? It was like living in an oven on full blast 24/7. Nothing could prepare me for that and to make things worse I seemed to be the only one having a problem with it. Everyone seemed to be soaking it in and making it seem all lovely whereas I was constantly in the pool just trying to cool down, then when getting out obviously topping up on suncream to then have my skin scorched off from the sunbed on contact. This was all minor in comparison to one fatal flaw, the lack of air- conditioning in the hotel. Apparently, they are due to install a cooling system on the 15th, 4 days after we left, typical. This obviously meant I looked like a fresh lobster by the end of every day but hey, I was on my holidays. Don’t confuse this with me complaining though, I loved it, just saying 30-odd degrees a day, all day, is a lot to handle for a guy who’s used to good ol’ English weather.
I couldn’t believe just how different it all was compared to what I’m used to, what I’ve been used to do all my life. The first was simply just how poor of a country it was, but then just how happy the people were just to help you out or simply speak to you. Granted a lot of them were claiming to be the cook from the hotel and/or wanted you to get into their shop but still, they took rejection very well.
We were also lucky enough to indulge in quad biking, which was a first for me. Being the only ones on the trip, the tour guy took us through all sorts of small gaps to make it more exciting and even took us to a disused ‘Quarry’? which featured a huge drop. He was just letting us do some 8’s in the sand but I ended up getting some ‘Air-time’ by speeding up the other side, which then led to me apparently being told off in French, or Arabian, I’m not sure, but he definitely didn’t seem too happy… On the way back, now in a taxi, is when the reality of the culture we were in really struck. It was like something off the tele, for example there was two kids, like really young 9/10 year olds, carrying a ladder on a motorbike. To which the drivers said something to them as they overtook them, and I just couldn’t help but think “wow, this is normal…” The animals seemed to look so thin as well, like if they were in England it would be all over the news on how bad it was, but this was normal here. Plus, as soon as we hit the roundabout near the hotel, is when the more extravagant shops, markets, hotels suddenly disappeared and the empty boarded up houses took there place. Bizarre how the divide was so close and immediate.
Another difference I found was paying for things. First was the different currency, I knew they had something different but I thought I could just use contactless everywhere. They have a currency named ‘Deanmar’ which is a closed currency so your not permitted to take notes out of the country and can only get them exchanged in the hotel. You also have to, well don’t have to but they all do, ‘Haggle ‘or ‘Barter’ every price down, unless it’s a fixed price shop. For example, the quad biking should’ve been 100 Deanmar each, however we bartered it down to 120 for both. If that was in England, and some guy said this is ‘100 quid each’ and I tried saying 120, it just wouldn’t happen, but over there it’s normal.
All of this is seeming rather negative right now, it’s not meant to be, I’m just trying to outline just how different it was for me, so I guess now for some more positive things.
I know I’ve said some things about the weather already in a bad light, but it actually was beautiful. Plus all inclusive means all the Godfathers you can handle, or can’t handle but we won’t speak about that, all the food and a buffet like I’ve never seen before, literally all around the world. They also put on one-off themed set menus, if you book in advance. We opted to go Mexican on the 2nd or 3rd night and an Indian on the last night. They were wonderful, plus they leave you with a bottle of Rose. A candle lit meal was a nice change to the buffet style canteen. Whilst in the canteen buffet though they’re were little birds darting around stealing peoples bread and sometimes just chillin’ on an empty chair. In a nice cute way though, not like a pigeon stealing chips in England.
One night whilst eating, a member of the animation team came to sit and eat with us, which was bit weird, but then it became quite interesting as it started spitting. In this nothing but clear skies haven of hot weather, it was spitting, and no-one seemed bothered. Back in England, everyone would’ve been running inside, leaving their food for dead as they save themselves from the day destroying liquid from the heavens, but no, they just carried on. I told our dinner guest about how we would’ve reacting had this been in England. Teaching them the term ‘spitting’ was a nice little feeling of a good deed though, I don’t think they’ve seen Peter Kay yet…
All in all, My time in Yasmin Hammamet, Tunisia, was definitely one to remember. First time leaving England and realising just how big and different the world actually is, I have a taste for this now. I can see how and why people can go around the world just visiting places, it’s amazing, I want it, like now, get me a campervan and the funds, and I’ll be off!