Modern types of mashrabiya
In Tunisia, which is a secular state, women have a lot more rights and freedoms than in other Arab countries. Modern young women and girls in Tunisia does not differ much from European counterparts. Nonetheless, traditional values in modern Tunisian architecture continued to maintain, but in much more free forms. This type of mashrabiya, as seen in the photos, is inconceivable for example in Egypt.Add to your Trip Planner
Mashrabiya or Shanasheel
Altgough Islamic country Tunisia is not that rigid in application of traditional values in accordance with the Kuuran. In fact, when strolling around you hardly can noticed it is Islamic country. However, the clear signs of its belongings can be undoubtedly seen in the architecture.
Mashrabiya is Arabic term given to a type of oriel window enclosed with carved wood. It is always located on the second floor of a building or higher. The name comes from "ashrafa", which means to overlook or to observe. A good view of the street can be obtained by the occupants without being seen. Mashrabiya is ornament of the rich houses and mainly used in the cities, in villages it barely exists.
It is wrong to believe that this type of window or balcony serves so that women can secretly watch what is happening out on the streets. The first and primary purpose is to protect the intimacy of the household from outside views.Related to:
- Family Travel
I read a lot of comments about the unpleasant events that tourists had in Tunisia, mainly these were lament of deceived victims whom outwitted agile and cunning Tunisians. The victim is always presented as a descent and naive tourist who believed in the story of a grimy, dirty, stupid, primitive and endlessly greedy host.
But the truth is, most of these complains sound like a logical absurdity!
1. Who can force you to listen to someone's story?
2.Who can force you to believe in that story?
3. Are you sure that the communication was in a language that both understand well?
To put it bluntly, we should call a spade a spade!
If you are not interested in someone's story, you'll turn around and go, or you'll ignore the respective.
Fact is, Tunisians wants to sell at the higher possible price and we tourists wish to pay as much as lower price possible.
The game is called to negotiate or to bargain.
The one who is not acquainted with the haggle will pay the higher price and that is the rule of the game.Add to your Trip Planner
WOMENS CARPET CO-OP'S
Tunisia have local carpet making co-op's where local women make carpets. The carpets can take a year to hand make and the patterns are all done from thier minds, they do not have a patern to go by. This makes each carpet unique. The carpets are really good value considering the time, effort and quality that had gone into them.Add to your Trip Planner
meet the lions
It's like a wall. A wall of intense heat. A wall which prevents me from moving. For a moment I thought it was the old locomotive generating heat. Then the train slowly moves on, the heat is as fierce as ever. I start walking. Is this 40 degrees C. or perhaps 50?'As soon as you leave the coastal plain temperatures can rise to 40 degrees C. and higher' I had read in my travel guide.
The sun shines mercilessly. I can feel an intense heat on my head, on my arms. There is no shade. At this hot hour of the day the streets are empty, the shops are closed. The locals are home, resting in their walled-in houses. A single tourist winds wearily towards the amphitheatre.
The Roman amphitheatre in EL JEM is large and beautifully restored. In the vaults you can see the cages for the lions and the gladiators' rooms. From several levels you can look down into the arena. In the museum you can admire beautiful, well-preserved mosaics.
EL JEM is more than worth seeing. In my opinion it is far more interesting than its rival the Colosseum in Rome.Try to avoid El Jem in the summer months. I visited El Jem for a second time in February. The street which seemed almost endless in the summer heat was only a 10-minute walk.
El Jem is between Sousse and Sfax. From Sousse there are many trains a day. Journey time is 2 hours.Add to your Trip Planner
Camels are still a big part of every day life in Tunisia.
They are still being used for many purposes and the camel markets are always a good place to check out the local scene for some exotic flavour.Related to:
- Family Travel
There are many cafes all over the villages and cities of Tunisia, where you can smoke shisha pipes and enjoy a local-style coffee, though they are mostly for men only. We were warned that women could sit at cafes, but it would be rather frowned upon.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
- Budget Travel
Buy your drugs early... or late...
Pharmacies in Tunisia have strange operating hours. Most are open for a few hours in the morning, close for most of the afternoon, and then reopen from about four-ish, until the evening. The staff in most pharmacies we went to spoke English, which helped. Also, medicines are available without prescription.Related to:
- Family Travel
Women in Tunisia
It was a hot day in Yasmine Hammamet. The beach was quite crowded with white skins and tiny bikinis of foreigners from places where the sun doesn’t shine all that much. To the beach arrived two women dressed head to toe with local clothing and a child. The women bathed keeping all the clothes, dried at the sun and left.
Women in Tunisia are generally respected, have liberty and are amongst the most previleged in Northern Europe. But at the same time there are still many people living in traditional ways especially in the south and in the interior. There are many women that are ghosts in white, dressing with the long, large dresses that hide their forms and their faces from the looks of foreigners. Below this dresses who knows what hides?
To the resorts of the coast many tunisian women come to have fun. Many of them dressing and having the liberties of any western woman. But you can still feel the weight of the traditions even though they feel they are as “modern” as any other western country. The way the tunisian man still look at western europe is a mixture of awe, excitement, anger and passion. I think many of them feel them as crazy women maybe even lost souls and have a genuine desire for marrying a local woman.
Women should have some cautious dressing for not being harassed.
Go and try to respect the local culture and ways of being and have fun. Try to behold the world that surrounds you with the eyes of the local and understand them rather than make haste judgements.Add to your Trip Planner
I hate this rabit! Or is it a mouse, an alien from another planet? Every time i see it gives me the creeps! And it is everywhere in Tunis and at the entrance of every city, sometimes alone, sometimes with its wife and children. I asked to my colleague about this rabit. She explained me that it is an animal called “fnak” (in Arabic) that lives in the south of the country, in the desert. It is very clean as when it sees some rubbish it buries it in the sand. So this animal is a kind of cleanliness symbol and Tunisians chose it to introduce the respect for the environment culture in the country. They could choose a nicer symbol but now that I know the whole story it makes sense for me. Oh, by the way, its name is Labib!Add to your Trip Planner
Foire de l'Artisanat Tunis: freaky experience!
Last Sunday (02nov) strangely I decided to stay in Tunis. By that time there was la Foire de l’Artisanat (Crafts Fairy) in Le Kram and a friend of mine proposed me to go there to take a look and, maybe, buy something for our appartments. When we arrived to the entrance and I saw families and families (mum, dad, children, grandma, auncle…) going inside I said to myself that, maybe, that was not a good idea (I wanted to scape!). But I could’nt do this to my friend (it was not polite) and I stayed. And…what a freaky experience!! Everything was sooo quich… or there is a better description, my friend’s one: “un concentrato di cattivo gusto” (a concentration of bad taste). So as soon as she was kidnapped (well, she looked happy) by a carpet seller I enjoyed wandering along that corridors full of all kind of stands selling all kind of strange stuff (furniture, ceramics, carpets, paintings, sweets, wedding dresses…) and taking a lots of pics (and even videos!). At the end it was not so bad: I bought some candles and a ceramic pot for a very good price :-)
La Foire de l’Artisanat takes place every year at Le Kram at the beginning of november and during one week. The best day to go is on Sunday (last day) because they want to sell everything and, in case you find something that you like, they will make you a very good price. Admission 1DT
Dont' miss the teapot turning :-))) (watch my video)Add to your Trip Planner
AAAhhhh! Smoking chicha is one of the pleasures of Tunisia!
Chicha, Narguileh, Hookah. . . all these words (depending on the region or country where we are) refer to the waterpipe used to smoke a tobacco called "tumbak" which is a special tobacco, different from our "normal tobacco". You can find a chicha in almost all the tunisian houses and caffes maures. If you are a woman and dont have tunisian friends to invite you to smoke chicha its better to look for a touristic place: "arab people have their traditions!"
Take your time while smoking chicha. . . its a moment for relax!
And please. . . dont use the coal of the chicha to light your cigarrette. . . its very impolite :-)))
Smoking chicha costs between 1,5-3 DT (in a touristic place) depending on the flavourAdd to your Trip Planner
Ramadan nights in the Medina
Ramadan nights are great in Tunisia! During the day muslims cannot eat, drink, … so nights are their moment. This is what happens:
-At sunset the muezzin calls to prayer and people start eating and drinking. Absolut silence, there is no one on the streets
-After dark the muezzin calls again to prayer. This is the most important moment of the day and all the people go to the mosque (men enter the mosque through the main façades, women through the lateral doors) to read the Quran. If you are near a mosque its easy to listen to the sheikh reading the Quran, and its very beautiful
-After the prayer life comes again on the streets and squares. All the cafés, shops and stalls are opened, men drink tea, smoke chicha, play cards… children play foot on the squares, women talk to their neighbours, bakers sell their best biscuits…and all this until 2-3 in the morning. Ramadan nights in the Medina are special!!Add to your Trip Planner
During the last 10 days of Ramadan women spend the day making cakes and biscuits for this special occasion. They make a lot of biscuits (usually traditional families in Tunisia are big) and at night they take their huge plates to the public ovens in the medina to bake them. A piece of paper with the owner’s name and adress is left on the plate to avoid confusions and after some hours women can come back to pick their biscuits up. Mmmmm….Add to your Trip Planner
I visited Tunisia in the winter when it was quite chilly and saw that many of the local men wear large thick coats and blanket looking garments that are drapped over their shoulders in order to keep warm. Some wear traditional fez looking red hats whilst others wear more Muslim looking scoll caps.Add to your Trip Planner
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