Daily Archives: February 9, 2010

Carthage

Carthage is a town near La Marsa and, like Dougga, has been made famous by its ruins (in this case a mix of Carthaginian and Roman).  It’s truly a beautiful setting, right on the Mediterranean, but unfortunately the location isn’t as well-preserved as Dougga. We spent a half day there, seeing the usual sights and arrived by our favored transportation method: TGM train. First stop was the Carthage Musuem atop Byrsa Hill.

The ruins at the Carthage Museum aren’t overly impressive (although you would think they would be for the 10 dinar entrance fee).  Once we got inside, we realized 9 of those dinars pay for the view alone. Stunning. As we are fairly easily amused, the highlight of the museum was the scale models of ancient sites furthering the long-held aspiration to become an assistant to an architect (and forever construct miniature buildings…so fun).

We walked down the hill right to the edge of the Mediterranean to visit other ruins. This included the Baths of Antoninus Pius and a (smaller than Dougga) theater. Along the way, we stopped to visit an art gallery displaying the work of a Scottish friend we’d met at one of the libraries in Tunis. (This friend actually drew/painted a piece just for us and we are shipping it home! It’s incredibly beautiful and maybe the coolest thing in the world.) After chatting up the gallery owner and enjoying the art on display, we continued our walk through Carthage. The 4.5 acres occupied by the Baths were like a mini nature park and a nice relief from familiar concrete Tunis life. Despite the signs pleading with children to not climb on the ruins, they couldn’t help but do so and document it all on their cell phone cameras.

To close out the evening, we hopped back on the train and met our friend Mohammed in the tourist-clad town of Sidi Bou-Said. We sampled bambaloni (a fried doughnut akin to an ‘elephant ear’). At a café overlooking the marina, we watched the sunset and shared conversation and chicha.

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WWII Memorial

The North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in photos:

Football, live and in Arabic!

Since we have been in Tunisia, we have attended two soccer games at two different stadiums. The games have been of rival times but not pitted against each other. There are, as to be expected, security and police at checkpoints throughout the entrances, but they aren’t looking for alcohol like we thought. Actually, they pat down all attendees searching for fireworks. Inevitably, some will get through and be thrown on the field (or on other fans) and police promptly extinguish them. As if they stadium wasn’t smokey enough from all the cigarettes….

Our first game, Club Esperance, was enjoyable but disappointing. Our adopted club lost in the added injury time of the second 15-minute extra play. The stadium wasn’t packed and it rained some, but the game was still fun to watch despite these conditions.

The Club Africain game came with a promise for Tunisian soccer at it’s best. Club Africain fans are noted to be quite passionate, so it was no surprise that after a month-long break due to the Africa Cup, the opening game vs. Gafsa attracted a sizeable crowd. At all soccer game in Tunis, there are hardly any women in sight; the stadium is overwhelmingly filled with men. (Since every moment is a math moment) let’s have a math moment: The capacity of Stadium el Menzah is 45,000. With the stadium 3/4 full (only the “Gafsa fans” sections were empty), we can estimate that 33,750 fans were in attendance. During the (long) walk through security, I saw 6 women. While waiting for a friend to join our group, I spotted another 5. This took roughly 45 min, stadium opened 3 hours before the game (1/4 total time observed) multiplied by 2 major entrances, and let’s add 15 women to account for estimation error. Got your answer? 103, which is only 0.23% total attendance of women. Represent. Club Africain took the win with two goals and we escaped the stadium without getting trampled (arguably a notable achievement).