March 02, 2008 GMT
Reflections on Tunisia

21 Feb - 28 Feb 08

Our Tunisian adventure ended pretty much as it began with a long wait at a ferry terminal and the Elephant strapped down in the belly of a ship. Although the passage was only 10 hours from Tunis we paid the extra for a cabin as we expected the ferry to be more crowded than the trip over from Marseille.

Tunisia end 017.jpg

We spent our last week in Tunisia at the faded seaside town of Hammamet in a comfortable apartment with a sitting room overlooking a courtyard with a large fig tree that was the night roost for hundreds of noisy sparrows. We had a lazy week of late coffee and pastry breakfasts and after dinner strolls for gelato, with vigorous 2 hour walks each day to make sure we felt virtuous enough to enjoy our dinner.

Tunisia end 015.jpg

Apart from giving us a rest after many weeks of almost constant movement, the break gave us some time for reflection on our Tunisian sojourn. It has also marked the first six months of our journey.

Tunisia end 014.jpg

Wonderful antique shop in Hammamet. (Peter Pursey take note.)

We have felt comfortable and at home in Tunisia. The Tunisians have been good hosts and the country, while lacking the(geological) drama of Morocco, has some wonderful sights mainly in the deserted south. It certainly provides a better desert experience than the over exploited patch of sand that passed for the Moroccan desert.

Tunisia end 019.jpg

We left just before the Hammamet half marathon. This was a shame as we were both looking forward to the run.

Regular readers will have seen our wonder at the archaeological sites. These were stunning and numerous and were the highlight for us both. Visiting in the dead of winter we often had these places to ourselves with plenty of time to look for the small detail that gave a clue to the lives of the original inhabitants. Grand temples are all well and good, but the real story of their lives is more often in the plumbing!
(Apologies to Mike Russell)

Tunisia end 011.jpg

A section of the 134km aqueduct that carried water to Cathage built by the Romans and maintained in service for about 800 years.

We have eaten simply but well in Tunisia. The food is probably less distinctive than Moroccan fare but we could generally go to bed with full bellies for a few dollars. The small local restaurants all had basically the same menu and similar prices and all have at least one TV in the corner at full volume.

Tunis 2 153.jpg

A sandwich (with tuna) and a glass of wine for lunch in Le Kef.

The Tunisians eat tinned tuna with almost everything. It dresses all salads, comes on pizzas, is an essential ingredient in most fast food and all sandwiches. It has even replaced the anchovies in puttanesca sauce. Sacrilege!

We have also seen and been seen by a measurable percentage of Tunisia’s school children. There are three levels of schooling here from the primary kids with kid-size bags to the young adults doing the four-year International Baccalaureate. Each of these groups has two sessions of schooling a day and the start times for the classes are staggered. This means that all day from 07hr to 18hr there are kids going to or from school and, since Tunisians only walk on the roadway, riding through any town is a slow process of weaving through throngs of young pedestrians. They do at least look well fed, smartly turned out and happy!

Tunisia end 021.jpg

The Elephant gets a bath in preparation for Italy.

So, a good time overall. But we do have one gripe. Tunisians are, in our experience, the world’s best litterers. Our previous record holders were the Syrians who found new and interesting ways to dress the landscape with plastic bags, but these folk are a cut above that standard.

The Tunisian president has launched an anti-litter campaign but it has yet to have an impact on the behaviour of the people. It is common to see a parent unwrap a sweet for a child and throw the paper on the ground. People of all ages, both genders and all social classes act with the same assurance that they have a perfect right to turn the land into a rubbish dump. They don’t seem to see the rubbish or care about it.

Tunis 2 115.jpg

Rubbish is everywhere but no one seems to notice.

Tunis 076.jpg

An army of street cleaners manage to keep the main areas clean.

The major urban and tourist areas are kept clean by armies of street sweepers who work throughout the night to get things tidied up for the morning. But out of these areas where there is no clean-up service the rubbish just mounts up and no one seems to care. In many small towns the inhabitants literally live in a stinking rubbish dump of their own making.

Tunis 2 149.jpg

This is not to say that the people or their houses are dirty. Far from it, they are invariably clean and well presented. It is just that no one feels any responsibility for those spaces that are not their direct property.

For us travelling, this is a complete pain in the arse. No one wants to stop for a break in a rubbish heap, but any area that could be used as a stop would invariably be filthy. The Tunisians can’t blame this state of affairs on anyone else. There are, from our experience, plenty of poorer people who manage to keep their plot neat and tidy.

OK, that is our one beef off the chest!

Tunisia end 042.jpg

On board the ferry, Eurostar Salerno, we found our cabin and drifted into a peaceful sleep blissfully unaware that the Italian border police would find new and interesting ways to torture us in just a few hours time.

Posted by Mike Hannan at March 02, 2008 03:41 PM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


Latvia to Australia, an inspirational 5 month journey full of unexpected adventures!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!