Monday, July 31, 2006
Friday, July 28, 2006
During the rush and chaos of leaving Casablanca airport, handing over the rent a car, taking our luggage through security and boarding the plane, I lost my camera. The camera with the couple of lenses are valued at around $1,500/-, but most importantly the 600 photos I took while in Morocco, were all gone.
We only noticed that the camera was missing when the plane landed in Tunis. That’s when I went nuts; I was mad at myself and really upset. How can I do such a stupid thing and forget a bulky camera case, which is always with me in all my travels.
There was nothing we could do about it, it was gone, but out of desperations we tried to remember when we saw it last and all I can remember was putting it through the X-ray machine, at the airport. So we started calling Morocco, trying to get the number for the airport, it was a lost case, but it I was desperate and willing to do anything to get it back.
After a few phone calls and getting passed around, a police officer from the ‘Lost & Found Department’ confirmed having the camera. I could no believe my ears; I called him twice again asking for the description of the camera and while the officer was getting annoyed from my calls I was jumping with joy.
His words “this is an Ammanh’ the camera is safe with us and it be here for you to collect. I loved Morocco, the people were friendly, nice, the country was beautiful, interesting, rich in culture and safe, but the camera incident just made me greater respect for them.
The police officers in 3rd world countries like Morocco are paid peanuts and many of them hassle you for bribes, even the couple of times I was caught speeding, the policemen, who were about to fine me, cut me some slack after I talked to them. This would be their best opportunity to extort money from us, but I guess I was either lucky and stumbled into honest cops or the corrupt cops stories are a myth of the passed.
Monday, July 24, 2006
I know I am going to get some flak for this but this is my experience and how I felt.
I got back from Tunisia a couple of weeks back and went there although my friends told me to avoid it. I was told the people were ‘rough’ (I am being e politically correct here) and there isn’t much to see because it’s ‘kinda run down’.
I thought these different friends, who went at different times and different places in Tunisia, were unlucky or did not enjoy the culture and history of the country we hear so much about. I did the mistake of buying the ticket first and then starting and reading about the country. I was impressed to know they had 6 international airports and was fascinated to read about their numerous historic monuments that are scattered around the Tunisia, but when I wanted to book the hotels, I started having 2nd thoughts.
The tourism industry is geared towards Europeans who want some sun ONLY. I searched for days for hotels and things to do around their historic sites but there was hardly anything. So I decided to book the hotels along the beach, which I don’t really care for, since I live by the beach in a sunny country.
Generally I try to avoid staying in 5 star hotels because I never make use of the hotel facilities, but since all the 4 hotels looked beat up and were more like 2 star hotel, I decide to go for the 5 star hotels.
As soon as I arrived to Tunisia I felt the people were ‘cold’ at the airport and the taxi stands, but I was did not think much of it. When we got the hotel at night the receptionists was very pleasant and helpful, but that was last encounter with a courteous person for a few days!
This might sound picky, but the hotel is rated officially 5 star and I paid money to get a 5 star hotel. The hotels would not pass for 4 stars in our side of the world and in Europe I am sure it would get 2.5 to 3 star rating, if that. On the web, the hotels I stayed in Mercure Diar El Andalous and Corinthia Khamsa Hotel, looked like five star hotels but when you get there the quality of the facilities and the service were not. So don’t be deceived by the nice photos.
Back to topic, the people we met for the next five days were mostly ‘super cold’ and if not, they were ‘rough’ and we were totally shocked and puzzled at their attitudes. How is it possible for a country that depends on tourism to be like that?
The beaches and the sea were not that great either, cause of the sea weeds and rough sand , but if you are from Europe and don’t care about the service or culture and have one goal on your vacation, to get some sun while paying the least amount of money, then Tunisia is right for you.
If you are looking for any of the following: entertainment, shopping, adventure, good restaurants, culture, arts, clubs or a night life, this is the wrong country. Even if you are into history you be disappointed that after driving for hours to see these amazing monuments, because there are hardly any restaurants, hotels or shops in the driving vicinity. There historic monuments are like disregarded treasures.
Saying all that the country was very safe, the small district of Sidi Bu Saeed in Tunis was really beautiful. So unless your a history or sunbathing freak, I would advise you to give Tunisia a skip. Their neighbor’s in Morocco have a lot more to offer with better facilities and friendlier people.
But if you must go for some reason, I would advise you to stay at the Sheraton Hotel in Tunis, they were all professional, nice,the hotel was a real 5 star and you would get your money's worth.