Tunisia – Diary of a Serial Expat http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com Travel is something you ARE not something you do Wed, 12 Dec 2018 17:00:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/wp-content/uploads/logo-2-161x150.png Tunisia – Diary of a Serial Expat http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com 32 32 68156955 I’m off to Tunisia, no Matter What! http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/going-sousse-tunisia/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/going-sousse-tunisia/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 10:14:41 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=2052 I love Tunisia. If you’ve been following this blog, you know one of my purpose is to shed light on Tunisia and show the world what fantastic opportunities this little country has to offer to travellers and explorers of all kinds. Well, Tunisia is very much in the news these days, unfortunately it’s for all the wrong […]

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I love Tunisia. If you’ve been following this blog, you know one of my purpose is to shed light on Tunisia and show the world what fantastic opportunities this little country has to offer to travellers and explorers of all kinds.

Well, Tunisia is very much in the news these days, unfortunately it’s for all the wrong reasons. Even since some nutters decided to open fire on tourists killing 38 people in Sousse, Tunisia, medias all over the world have been talking about how dangerous Tunisia is, Airlines and Tour Operators have cancelled flights and holidays deals and tourists have pretty much fled the country.

Sousse, Tunisia
Tourists queuing to leave Tunisia at Enfidha Airport after the attack in Sousse. – Photo Credit

Already back in March (2015) an explosion had killed a group of tourists in the capital city Tunis.

As a result of those attacks, the Tunisian people is suffering from yet another blow to their main (if not only) source of income. Tunisian people are poor people, life is very hard most of the time and summer is for many the only chance to get some decent income and make ends meet, feed their family and pay bills. No only that but the government has now declared the “state of emergency” in all the country so once again the Tunisian people find itself living a restricted life, under closer surveillance and everything else this measure entails.

Now what?

Well I’m gonna tell you what is going to happen. I’ve seen it all before with my very eyes. Back in the summer of 2012 (shortly after the Arab Spring Movement started in Tunisia, all over North Africa and the Middle East) I travelled to Tunisia from the UK… in an empty plane! I talked a lot with the plane crew and they knew the season was over, ruined and that Tunisia was doomed financially for at least a few years.

Sousse, Tunisia
Hotels in Sousse and all over Tunisia are now empty. Photo Credit: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

The same is going to happen again. The summer season is completely ruined this year and in the future Tunisia will struggle to rebuild trust and re-start its tourism-lead economy. In the meantime what of the hundred thousands of people who depend on tourists to make a living? I’m not talking about Airlines and big hotels, I’m talking about street vendors, small restaurant owners, local guides…? Tunisia is not like the UK, there is no welfare money to fall back on! Those are going to suffer. BIG TIME!

So what can you do, you ask? Well for a start, read and share this post, and any other post intended to help Tunisia rebuild that all-important trust with holiday makers. If you had planned on going to Tunisia please don’t cancel. And you if are going to Tunisia like me (I’ll be there soon) take the time to talk to the people, eat in their restaurants, buy their souvenirs and show them YOU CARE.

For people in Tunisia it’s not all about money, it’s also about people! We must do what we can to show people in Tunisia that we KNOW they are not responsible for those terrible acts. Many reports have now surfaced since the attacks, about how Tunisians did everything they could to protect tourists, from shielding them and making a human chain around hotels to throwing projectile onto the attackers and even running after him at great personal risk.

These days there is another country which makes the headlines: Greece and its failed economy. Ever since Greece made the news, blogs and social medias have been full of reports of people flocking to Greece and its pretty islands to “help the economy and the Greek people” (can you tell I’m slightly skeptical on all those people’s real intentions?).

While millions rush to Greece to make the most of the low prices and wonderful beaches, how many will remember Tunisia and the Tunisian people?

I’m heading to Tunisia tomorrow, I’m taking some measures of precautions for when I am in Tunis, especially at the airport but other than that I plan to enjoy a relaxing holiday, spend time with my family (in-laws) and set the first step in motion to make Tunisia my future home.

What about you? Will you share this post? Will you help?

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I Love Expat Life & I Love Holidays! http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/life-in-saudi-arabia-holidays/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/life-in-saudi-arabia-holidays/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:49:50 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=2939 What do you do for your holidays when you’re an expat? I mean aren’t we technically already on holidays, since we’re abroad and living in the sunshine all year long, surrounded by palm trees with the beach nearby? To be honest living in Jeddah feels a lot like being on holidays. I’ve been trying to […]

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What do you do for your holidays when you’re an expat? I mean aren’t we technically already on holidays, since we’re abroad and living in the sunshine all year long, surrounded by palm trees with the beach nearby?

To be honest living in Jeddah feels a lot like being on holidays. I’ve been trying to describe what living in a compound feels like to my family and friends back home and the closest I can explain is by comparing it to living in a holiday village.

Life in Saudi arabia

Where I live at the moment (my employer provides me and my family with free housing on their compound) looks like a gigantic holiday village. It’s self contained for one and it’s got everything you need so you don’t actually have to get out unless you want to.

Then there is the Jeddah weather, awesome weather, summer all year round with temperatures between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius at the moment (July 2015).

There are some swimming pools in the compound to cool us down, hundreds of ACed shopping malls not far to while away the hottest hours and spend our hard earned salaries.

life in saudi arabia
When daily life looks like you’re on holidays.

And just look at the place! With the clear blue sky, the palm trees everywhere… it’s hard to feel like I’m going to work when I walk to my office in the morning. And at night when I look over the roof tops from my windows, I am still totally overwhelmed by the view of those rocky mountains.

life in saudi arabia
Walking to work or relaxing outdoors – Hard to tell, isn’t it?

Still, summer is the time for holidays so let’s talk holiday plans then. Life in Saudi Arabia has a lot to offer for a family like mine which is why we decided to spend the majority of our holidays in Jeddah. From here we have made quite a few days trips to Mecca and we plan to visit Madinah next, maybe next week.

After that it’s finally time for the “real” holidays as we are flying to Tunisia. If you’ve been reading this blog a while you know that Tunisia is my favourite country in the world and that we have been travelling to Tunisia for our holidays for years. But this year, our holidays are gonna be much more than just holidays…

holidays in Tunisia

A few years back (flashback) my husband and I started dreaming of Tunisia, not just for quick visits during the holidays but as the place we loved the most on this Earth and where we could see ourselves settling down.

This is Gabes, where my husband is from and where most of his family lives:

life in saudi arabia life in saudi arabia Tunisia in pictures

Well, thanks to our life in Saudi Arabia and the big fat salaries they are paying us here to teach English, we have managed to save enough money to build our dream house. It’s hard even for me to truly comprehend how fast it all went. All it took was 10 months of savings the best part of 2 salaries to afford to build a house from scratch. Can you believe it? Sometimes it feels insane! In the UK we were struggling to make ends meet, we couldn’t afford to dream let alone make our dreams happen, all the while leaving a very comfortable life.

And now, on our very first holidays since we signed a contract in Saudi, we are going back to Tunisia with enough cash (yep cash, no mortgage) in hands to start the construction of the house of our dreams.

This is terribly exciting, exhilarating and a little overwhelming. I feel (almost) like a grown up now with that whole building-a-house thing, and there will be challenges ahead of course and grown up decisions to make…

So this holidays, besides the family reunions, delicious food and trips to the beach, there will be meetings with some architects, the construction team, we’re gonna be talking budget and deadlines and materials, floor plans, planning permission and a lot of other things, which up until now I had only ever heard of and wasn’t sure what they meant.

So here we are, about to embark on yet another incredible adventure and once again the line seems blurred between our daily lives and our holidays. I don’t want to throw a big fat “I love my life” and rub it in your face so I’ll just say that I’m very grateful that the life choices we’ve made a few years back are allowing us to live life to the fullest and make our dream come true.

What are your plans this summer? Tell us about what you’re doing and where you’re going? Any exciting change coming your way?

 

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On the Move Again – Part 2/4 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/on-the-move-again-part-24/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/on-the-move-again-part-24/#comments Sat, 09 Aug 2014 15:40:46 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=678 For the second leg of our journey we left Gabes and the family behind to join the capital Tunis in order to catch a plane the next day at Tunis Carthage airport. We had originally planned to take a louage, a form of public transport popular in Tunisia but at the last minute my husband […]

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For the second leg of our journey we left Gabes and the family behind to join the capital Tunis in order to catch a plane the next day at Tunis Carthage airport. We had originally planned to take a louage, a form of public transport popular in Tunisia but at the last minute my husband booked us some tickets on the 4 o’clock train. We really should have taken a louage…

As I explained briefly in Part 1 the current situation in Libya makes it impossible to fly from Libyan airports so in order to reach the UK we had to fly from Tunis Airport.

living abroad

Details of the journey

Length: 450 km

Travel Time: should have been 6 hours was 8 hours

Transport: train

Travel Tips: young children do not pay to take the train but that means they ‘re not entitled to a seat and when it gets packed you have to take them on your lap. With the heat and for that long it’s just too much so buy them a ticket.

With a plane to catch around noon on the 5th it was necessary to leave Gabes a day early and spend the night in Tunis. We left our own car behind and therefore needed public transport and we first opted for a louage but for some reason my husband thought it would be better to take the train.

living abroad
Louages are 7-9 seaters very popular for long distance travels and with people who don’t own a car.

I had taken the night train to Tunis the year before and I remember all too clearly the journey: 6 hours in a crowded train without any AC, bad smells, no leg room whatsoever but plenty cockroaches… enough said. I wasn’t really keen to try that again but my husband booked some 1st class tickets and assured me they had AC and it would be fine.

It turned out to be not quite as bad as the previous trip but can’t say it was good either. We did get more room and no roaches the AC was working ok but as usual the train was beyond packed and our leg room soon had to be given up for other people’s luggage and children. A lady with 3 children ended up taking my son’s seat and promptly dropped her heavy melons on my feet. However the lady and her girls were nice and we chatted a bit with broken Arabic and French, shared our sandwiches and swapped some stories.

In the end the train arrived almost 2 hours late and we were all dead tired. At the station we struggled to find a taxi. This is not the first time we have trouble getting a taxi in Tunis. Those guys are very picky and choose their customers as they please and if they do take you they will rip you off especially at midnight without another taxi in sight. We hadn’t booked a hotel so we just drove to the Carlton on Avenue Bourguiba where we had stayed before (excellent service and prices, ideal location in city centre and very friendly staff) but they had no room left. However they offered to drive us to another hotel not far free of charge.

Let’s just say that next time I will book us a room at the Carlton. That other hotel was more expensive and the service terrible (I’m a little fussy it’s true but when you come into the room and the floor is dirty it doesn’t give the right impression): rooms barely clean, broken furniture, no WiFi and breakfast was a small selection of bland tasteless food. Not even drinking water! we had to pay 2 dinars for a small bottle of mineral water. A hotel I won’t be coming back to but at least we managed to catch some sleep and a long bath in the morning which is good.

We then booked a taxi to take us and our many suitcases to the airport. Once again dealing with taxis was not easy the driver initially refused to take us because of excess luggage then he wouldn’t accept the actual fees but insisted on charging us a flat “airport package” fee. After a lot of going back and forth it was getting late so we agreed to his fare. Still he grumbled and mumbled all the way about how greedy WE were?!?!

Budget

Train tickets x2: 50 dinars

Hotel room with breakfasts: 150 dinars (totally overpriced)

Taxis: 10 dinars (for a 5 minute drive) then another 10 dinars to the airport (actual meter fee was 4 dinars).

We are heading to the UK now flying to London Heathrow. We will spend our time in England between London and Birmingham in order to organise the last leg of our journey which should take us to our new expat destination.

Continue with the other posts in the On the Move Again Series:

living abroad

living abroad

living abroad

living abroad

 

Sign up for the Newsletter below so you don’t miss THE NEXT PART OF OUR ADVENTURES

 

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On the move again – Part 1/4 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/on-the-move-again-part1/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/on-the-move-again-part1/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:45:22 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=651 After many months job hunting we think we have found an opportunity that suits us and we are going to pursue it to see if it works. Fortunately moving and living abroad this time means travelling to 2 other countries before we reach our new destination. We start with a road trip first: out of Libya […]

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After many months job hunting we think we have found an opportunity that suits us and we are going to pursue it to see if it works. Fortunately moving and living abroad this time means travelling to 2 other countries before we reach our new destination. We start with a road trip first: out of Libya to Tunisia for a week of holidays with family.

The first part of the trip takes us from Zawia, Libya where we have been living for almost a year to Gabes in Tunisia.

living abroad

Road trip Part 1/4

Length: 450 km

Transport: own car

Travelling Time: 12 hours

Types of roads: mostly single lanes with a few fast sections

Travel Advice: fill up your tank way before the border as Libyans don’t want Tunisian crossing the border just to take petrol so while there are some petrol stations close to the border they are often closed especially to foreign cars. Crossing the border can take forever it took us 4 hours this time on a straight forward cross so allow plenty of time if you need to be in Tunisia at a certain time.

living abroad
Tunisian-Libyan border post of Ras Ejdeer

So that’s it, we have packed up all our things filled up the car and taken the road leaving early as we know crossing the border can be long. I hope we are leaving Zawia for good and while I know things are not 100% sure with our new plan I do hope it will work out. While life in Libya has been the source of a lot of discovery and knowledge, without counting a great boost to my CV, we feel that we can’t keep living there, and working for Zawia university is not something we want to continue doing (but that’s another topic).

In the last few weeks airports in Libya have been the targets of heavy bombing and carefully planned destruction so flying directly out of Libya is not an option which is why we are going through Tunisia.

living abroad
Border town of Ben Gardane

I’m always happy to go to Tunisia as this is my husband’s country and where we plan to settle down at some point. It also means time with family which is always nice for serial expat like us. We will be spending a week with various members of my husband’s family and make the most of our time there before we embark on the second leg of our journey. My children are very excited to see their cousins again and we are happy that our time scale allow us to spend Eid (the Muslim day of celebration at the end of the month of Ramadan) with our family.

I’m not expecting a lot of sleep however as family members are always coming round at all hours of the night to see us. Yes “night” since the days are so hot people get social in the night so it is very common for people to start arriving at ten or eleven pm and stay really late. In the morning sleeping late is not an option either since once again the heat makes it too uncomfortable to stay in bed.

Past Present and Future

This place however is quite special for us this is where the past meets our future. Staying in the family house is like stepping back in time when life was so much simpler there is no internet no cable TV we sleep on mats on the floor in the open courtyard and eat simple wholesome food cooked in a kitchen that has yet to see a microwave. Washing clothes is done by hand or with a twin tub non automatic washing machine. Yet just a few minutes away is where our future awaits us. We own a little piece of land and this time we actually got round to set down on paper the proper plans for our house… a little house just like the one where we stay at the moment with simple rooms and an open courtyard just like they used to make them before.

Budget

We are staying with family so accommodation and food is no issue in this part of the journey but it will be when we reach destination number 3. Before that we will need to leave Tunisia.

 

Keep reading the other posts in the series to find out what happened next:

living abroad living abroad

 

 

 

 

living abroad living abroad

 

 

 

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Updates and Featured Interview http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/updates-and-featured-interview/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/updates-and-featured-interview/#respond Sun, 16 Feb 2014 12:05:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=21 Guest Blogging: I have recently been asked to answer some interview questions by the website Expat Arrivals, which specialises in providing up to date, comprehensive information on many countries, making it easy for future expats to learn as much as possible about their destination. Click HERE to be taken to their Country Guide on Libya: […]

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Guest Blogging:

I have recently been asked to answer some interview questions by the website Expat Arrivals, which specialises in providing up to date, comprehensive information on many countries, making it easy for future expats to learn as much as possible about their destination.

Click HERE to be taken to their Country Guide on Libya:

Expat Life in Libya

I actually used their website when i looked into moving to Libya. It is very informative and i’m very happy i could help them by sharing my experience with their readers.

You can read the interview i gave HERE

I would recommend this website, they have put together a complete package of real life information that expats need before moving abroad, so check them out. If you’d like to contribute to their website you can contact them through their website.

Important Updates:

I have recently re-designed the photo gallery for Tunisia. All pictures are now clearly organised and displayed in a more elegant manner. You can simply click on any picture to see it in pop on the screen in a larger size. I have added many comments as well to give you a real feel of that amazing country.

Picture Hammamet Tunisia
just one the many new pictures in the Tunisia Gallery
Click on TUNISIA to go the the photo gallery. 
I’d love to hear what you think of the new layout so please leave some comments.

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Flashback http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/flashback/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/flashback/#respond Fri, 28 Dec 2012 12:49:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=77 What makes a person want to leave everything to move abroad? For us it started with an idea, that of building a house in Tunisia. This idea soon got hold of us and turned into a dream, so strong and beautiful we had to make real plans to make it happen. It’s all simple enough, […]

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What makes a person want to leave everything to move abroad? For us it started with an idea, that of building a house in Tunisia. This idea soon got hold of us and turned into a dream, so strong and beautiful we had to make real plans to make it happen. It’s all simple enough, it’s when you need to make choices that things gets difficult.

July 2012: Before I Became a SERIAL Expat

We spent a whole month in Tunisia, staying mainly in Hammamet in the north and El Hamma, Gabes in the South and this is where it hit us: this is what we want! We need to come and live here…
But life is not that easy so we have to plan for such a move… back in the UK we think outloud about building a house, moving the family there… but it is in the distant future.

Tunisia off the beaten path Tunisia off the beaten path Tunisia in pictures

September 2012: Planning Another Expat Move

Vague plans are taking shapes, we need to go and work abroad to make some money and build our house in Tunisia. We “settle” on Libya after discarding the Gulf states which we considered for a while.

Zawia pictures Misurata, Libya Misurata, Libya

December 2012: Plans and Change of Plans

My husbands receives an email about a job offer teaching English in Saudi and that’s it, the Gulf is back on the shortlist and we start planning again: making phone calls, sending emails… the works!

 

Now: Need to make a decision

All the networking worked and we now have quite a few options available. Just to unload, here is the deal as of today:
Libya:
+ close to Tunisia, conservative, quite a few contacts, work and career oportunities
_ salaries are unpredictable, housing market is expensive (rent + most landlord ask for 12 months rent in advance)

Saudi:
+ Hajj, Umra, very competitive salaries (tax free + LOADS of perks)
_ compound life (not sure positive or negative yet), children not allowed in local schools, visa and movements restrictions

UAE, Qatar:
for now bottom of the list, kinda middle ground between Libya and Saudi: more freedom than Saudi + great schools BUT life more expensive and salaries lower than Saudi but higher than Libya.
a major minus for me personally as well: Qatar and the UEA as not as strict on Shariah as the Saudis and moving out of the UK for me means going closer to Islam.

This is how it starts, how a simple thought can get you to move abroad and change your life for ever. What’s your dream destination?

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