Saluting Turkey from Tunisia

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Tunis Hi Hostel is in the middle of the old city, you might find it asking people but difficult to find following street names. Vehicles are not allowed to enter old city and there are shops everywhere. It was easy to find the hostel via GPS. At the entrance of the hostel a board on the wall caught my attention, actually a huge poster.

On one side Turkish and on the other Tunisian flags were hanging. On the poster photographs of the Ottoman period governors, the Ottoman pashas were placed. I asked whether this building was used by one of the governors. The answer was yes, but he didn’t know which one. The interior of the building is quite old; there are a big living room and at the upper stories bedrooms and bathrooms, the ground floor is mostly used as dining room. On that night there was a meeting of Hi Hostel managers from all over the world. What a coincidence. Being informed that I was on a tour around the world and stayed at Hi hostels during my travel, they invited me for dinner.

After dinner we went out on streets of the old city to drink tea all together. At a nice teahouse some ordered “shishe (bottle in Turkish)”. While I was thinking what that means, after a couple minutes “nargile (water pipe)” were brought. I asked to the Tunisian guy sitting next to me:

– Do you call this “shishe”?

He replied smiling

– Yes. Actually “shishe” is a Turkish word and not Arabic. You call this “nargile” in Turkey which is on the other hand an Arabic word. But we always say “shishe”.

I’m not sure how true this argument is, I didn’t search which of the two words is Turkish or Arabic. The American girl sitting in front of us, hearing that we were talking in English asked:

– As far as I know Ottoman Empire ruled for a long time over this region. Why don’t people in this region talk Turkish?

– I can answer your question based on the knowledge of history books I read in Turkey but it might be better that Muhammed answers your question. The history known in this region might not fit with my knowledge of history I learned in Turkey.

By the way, Muhammed graduated in France and returned back to Tunis where he works as tradesman. He told me he has two shops in the bazaar. Looks as if he is well doing. He answered the question:

– That’s true, Ottomans ruled over this region for about 350 years. But during this period Ottomans didn’t construct anything in this region (this was pretty hard) and did nothing add to the people, also exploited the resources of the region.

– Well, what about life safety? Order?

– Locals were protected only against foreign attacks, but Ottoman Empire treated ordinary people as slaves.

We Turks, no matter whether history of Ottomans or Turkish Republic are proud when we are referred in a region. Furthermore, mentioning that these places were formerly our land  doubles our pride.

Well, what did Ottomans construct in this region?  According to official historical knowledge restoration of cities, kulliye (a complex of buildings adjacent to a mosque), fortresses and many mosques. But there are no explanations what we did with the resources of the region. Trying to learn about these issues by our own is almost impossible. To understand Ottoman archives one must master Arabic, Farsi besides knowing Ottoman Turkish. Otherwise learning only Ottoman Turkish the translations would remain incomplete and result in wrong information. Honestly, I wished I could go to the libraries where Ottoman archives kept and read the documents. But to learn Arabic and Farsi besides Ottoman Turkish is far too difficult for me for the time being. We are talking from a past of 400 years. How could Ottomans rule over these remote regions? By trusting to the governors sent to these regions.

Well, how  can I learn about this history and  how true will it be since the people in this region are educated in a system created by France while ruling over this region. I had mentioned about a similar educational system in my Algeria article.

Such travels as I previously did  had also been encouraged by the rulers of Ottoman empire and other countries. The voyagers sent to such regions were experts generally members of geographical societies. For example, one of the issues of II. Abdulhamit period not taken notice is the numerous memoirs about several provinces of Ottoman Empire. With these memoirs we gain knowledge about the remote places and provinces and can judge on the existence of the empire in the region. I had the opportunity to read a couple of these travel memoirs of that period during my travel.  By this way, I was able to understand the alterations both of the past and present. But to mount the knowledge, think about it and put into words is a really hard job. Why did I say mounting? The voyagers traveling in the Arab geography were not only Ottomans but also citizens of other countries. Even some of them agitated people against the Ottoman Empire who, then after wrote their 10 year travel memoirs (I read a memoir of an agent of the English Intelligence Service in which their work against the Ottoman Empire during 1700 -1800 was mentioned). In short, the history of this region is a mess and the connection among the happenings is like a puzzle.

In the end, Muhammed talked and we listened. Then I was expected to answer this question: “The official history of each country differs. We didn’t learn this way or it is not written as such in the works of this period” and ended this subject. At this point to say “hey, this is not the truth, the truth is this and that” would be nothing more than masturbation. Therefore, I didn’t want the discussion to continue.

That night I stayed at the hostel and the next morning rode to our embassy. On my way towards embassy I passed through the old city. Colorful fabric, jebbas (traditional Tunisian clothing), kaftans were placed row wise on the road.

There was a man in one of the side streets selling dried figs. Cactus fruit, prickly pear or pitaya or sabura (this fruit has many names, in Turkey we call it Frenk inciri – Frankish fig). They taste good, I might eat one or two. The ones who tasted this fruit would know it has many tiny seeds. I like the taste of this fruit. It is true that it is good for the digestive system but one must eat at least 10 of these fruits. But be aware that there is a toilet nearby.  Next to the seller was sitting a man. He made a 3 sign with his fingers. Dude, idiot at least don’t do this to me. He is going to sell this fruit for 3 dinars which actually costs only 0.25 dinars. The seller recognized that I saw the 3 sign. I winked shaking my head and said:

-Dude, what does this mean, 3 dinars? HARAM HARAM! I know how much it costs.

 

It doesn’t help saying this in English but they both understood that I knew the prices. I ate 4 fruits and paid 1 dinar.

I checked from GPS where our embassy is and started to pedal. In the city, especially on the main road military vehicles were deployed behind barbed wire and soldiers prepared for a turmoil looking at people as if they are a menace for them.

One evening as I was walking by barbed wires one of the soldiers shouted at me “It’s forbidden to walk here”.  But man, you blocked the sidewalk with the wires, where the hell should I walk. “Go back, cross the street and walk on the other side”. “Ok, ok” and I turned back. No need to insist.

It is the advantage of being a touristic destination, people on the streets are relaxed. Algeria was an absolute Islamic state. It was visible that women were repressed which is not the case in Tunisia. Nobody says anyone “Dude, you walk around with shorts, why do you wear bikinis!” 

Of course this situation differs in the rural areas but the women’s liberation in the city Tunis is far more advanced compared to the two other Arabic countries I have visited  so far. At least they shake your hands and when saying good bye you can kiss from their chicks.

The building of our embassy is 6-7 km outside the city center. I was surprised when I arrived there. Hey! I had missed to recognize the huge Turkish flag while passing by yesterday. I wonder what had caught my eyes yesterday that I didn’t recognize our embassy and the Turkish flag. Well, I must say that our Tunisian Embassy is the biggest one I have seen for long time only 5 minutes from Carthage airport.  We bought the estate and constructed the building.

 

Ozkay one of our diplomats welcomed me and took me the room where I was going to stay for next days. Then, I got acquainted with the employees of the embassy. The next days passed jogging with police captain Ahmet, night duty chats with Gokhan, lunches with Pelin and Ozkay at a salad bar, enjoying Tunisian coast with Erol abi (elderly brother in Turkish) and his wife. We also had long talks with our ambassador Erol Bey (Mr. in Turkish) about electronic goods. Sometimes we had lunch together. Went out at some nights. Walked more than 10 km along the beach. Time has passed like a wind with this crew. Generally, people think what work is done in the embassies and get the impression that they only hang around like living in a holiday resort. But it is a fact that everybody in the embassy, from consulate to the top, work hard. And employee shortage is another fact.

Now, let me mention what I did while I staying in the capital of Tunisia. First of all, I applied for my Saudi Arabia visa on 20 August 2014. : ) We went to Saudi Arabian embassy together with our military attache. When I saw the embassy building my mouth went o shape. Being with an military attache we, of course, visited his counterpart. He invited us to his room and asked “What would you like to drink?” His secretary a well dressed open haired beautiful woman came in. Really interesting… I thought an embassy is counted as the country’s territory. Anyway, while drinking tea I told what I did so far and what my future plans were. “Alright, we send your documents to our Foreign Affairs Ministry.” After some beguiling words we went back to our embassy. The next days I had appointments with the same person. During one of these meetings:

–          Mr. Gurkan you can go to Umrah (pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of the year in contrast to the Hajj). with a tourism agency and not traveling overland.

–          Since 1200 years people had been traveling by camels and horses, why isn’t it possible for me to travel by bike?

–          During hajj periods we have to control people entering and leaving the country in order to take precautions. Millions of people are visiting our country.

–          Then, make an exception for one person. Furthermore, I’ll be under your control anyway.

–          Alright Gurkan Bey we let you know when we receive the ultimate decision.  

At the end I couldn’t get that visa in Tunisia. I’ll try again in Jordan my last chance.

 

Now coming to the second issue. I need to change the broken part of the hub. What are options?

1)      To order a new hub from Turkey.

But then I have to change the complete wheel set because the one I’m using is with 40 spokes which will be hard to find. Therefore Oguz Kutlu in Germany waits for my call and is ready to send the set. The hub is Shimano XT with 40 holes. When I found this hub I said: “ That’s it man” and it really proved itself.

2)      To order just the broken part from UK. But they are out of stock.

3)      To try to find a Shimano XT hub in this city which I dont regard as possible.

 

I asked for the broken part in Turkey but couldn’t find any. We found that part from internet only, it is really hard to find. But they also run out of stock. At the end Enes ordered from a shop in UK. So I’ll leave Tunis whenever that part is delivered. Let us wait and in the meantime check out the places to visit. : )

But before that, let me talk about other situations and my impressions. Well, staying at the embassy you have the opportunity to hear about things happening firsthand.

There were 3 black large cars in the embassy all a mess. One of cars has flat tires and the protection films were stripped off. Two of them were bulletproof. Their number plates were registered in Algeria. Holy shit! What’s this? The cars belonged to the Turkish  embassy in Algeria which was closed after the turmoil. There was also another car in the garage. I said “Why didn’t you change the tires?” but how all had gone. I asked how this happened.  The driver and the passengers were almost being killed. These cars being bulletproof are very heavy. Not only the car itself also their tires were bulletproof. Well, how come happened this then? The drivers had to drive at high speed between Tunisia and Libya to rescue Turkish people which was the reason for flat tires. I checked closely one of the tires which was really crabbed, it is a wonder how the driver didn’t lose the control. I saw our Algeria counselor in the embassy: “Abi what happened there during that period?”

Dude, I swear if only a journalist would follow the happenings at that period from here impressive  headlines would have appeared : )… A few examples:

Well, when the turmoil in Libya started the government of Turkish Republic said: “We’ll evacuate our citizens from the country on this and this dates. For your own safety leave the country.”

If a citizen doesn’t have the opportunity to evacuate himself the state gathers his  workers in that country: “Who doesn’t have the opportunity to leave the country by his own?” Everyone raises their hands. Then come over write down your names and sign this voucher. When you have the money pay back to the state. Well, hundreds of raised hands go down but 4-5.  : ) By the way, this happened in a hotel at a city near Libya-Tunisia border. The hotel costs and food were all paid by our Libya embassy’s budget.

One week after this rescue operation a company’s  principal  and the employees call our Libya consulate just at the time when villages, cities were set in fire:

–          Help us. We are in the middle of the war. 

–          What the hell are you during there? We evacuated our citizens weeks before, why didn’t you follow the precautions? The war is now at the border, we can’t enter the country and come to the region you are.

Why they didn’t follow the precautions is a matter to discuss. Actually, we all know why they remained there! Just the hope that nothing happens.

 

In the mean time prime minister Davutoglu gets informed. “There are Turkish workers in the region”. Of course the order comes from the top.  “Go and evacuate those people safe and sound” Getting such an order the officers have to obey what else? 

The order has come, the Turkish citizens are to be evacuated. The workers get informed to move towards Tunisian border, “we try to evacuate you from there”. Well, how would this work, the borders between Algeria and Tunisia are closed? Tunisia embassy gets informed, “This is the situation, you have to evacuate those people no matter how.” The drivers set off to the border 620 km away. It’s no picnic. They arrive at the border a tumult. They ask the border officers for the Turkish workers. But there is no one… They can’t pass the border. They wait for hours but no one appears. Prime minister Davutoglu calls the drivers at the border and gets informed. Our drivers wait for some time then drive back to the nearest town in order to rest. Both sides of the border is a mess. Our government get in touch with the highest rank military officer in the region, “When the Turks come, let them pass the border immediately.” I guess some bribe was also paid. At midnight our Turkish citizens arrive at the border. The soldiers let them pass, but they are not able to communicate. Meanwhile, the officer calls our diplomats and tells that the workers had arrived. At the same time the Turks call the Foreign Affairs Ministry, “We are at the border. There is no one waiting for us. We are left by our own” bla bla bla. Our drivers while on the road to meet our citizens were called and blamed for being late of course. Our drivers arriving at the border blame the Turks this time.  What happened afterwards, those evacuated went back to work in Libya two weeks after. Then, when something goes wrong our ambassador and diplomats are blamed.

Another point is that if you want to travel a country by motorbike, bicycle, car or you want to work in a country, it’ll be wise to visit or call first the embassy and say “I’m a citizen of yours traveling by motorbike, bicycle, car… Just to inform you” Ask whether there are dangerous regions to travel in that country. The same is true when you go to work abroad. Things don’t work when you call for help at the eleventh hour, when you have an accident or anything bad happens to you. Also, the diplomatic vehicles are not allowed to go at the drop of a hat. They are not allowed, it is forbidden!!!

One day we were sitting with the police captain Ahmet in the embassy “Gurkan teachers which will work in Tunisia arrived from Turkey. If you want you can meet them.” Super. I liked this. Turkish is a selective course in the prep and high schools of Tunisia. These are nice moves, I like such issues. Let us meet.

First of all there was a quarrel for the schools among teachers. Who is giving education in which school?? Dude, what’s this, student is student in any school.

The reason: The schools are not in the capital but in surrounding towns or villages. Some of the teachers want to live in places like holiday resorts. Well, what about education? Who cares.

One of the teachers said:  “I just give my lecture and leave the classroom.”  Another teacher had only a desk job since 10 years, it was his first class experience. One of the teachers came to learn Arabic. Among the teachers sent here 2 or 3 knew Arabic just what was thought in the Imam Hatip schools (originally founded to train government employed imams which developed into a parallel system of  education) in Turkey. None of them were speaking English or French.

Holy crap…. Dude, this reminded me a couple of issues I mentioned in my Algeria article.

The head of the group asked for my opinion about Tunisia and I told them in detail. “Well, don’t argue about places you’ll stay, it is a nice country. The people would like you where ever you settle down.” In the end they came to educate. Well, some were married having children, some were single. The women were favored… DUDE WHAT ABOUT GENDER EQUALITY ALOOOOOO? : )) hehe.

One of the teachers said: “Gurkan Bey it is obvious you are rich and travel for your pleasure. Well, you travel but for what? Which purpose you serve for?” After giving a short summary….. Anyway, don’t let me talk about the conversation.

 This year, if I’m not wrong about 50 students received scholarships for education in Turkey. The government pays for: undergraduate student 600 TL, master studies 900 TL and PhD 1100 TL. Besides this also the dormitory fees are paid by the TURKISH REPUBLIC. If you are a big country then you should give of course such supports.

Dear Gürkan Bey,

My name is Cem Ö. I’m  22.

I’m following you on your webpage since two months. I have read the articles you shared.

I graduated from the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering of Sakarya University. And I have started with master study at the same university in the Department of Production Engineering in 2013.

In August 2013 the Leoben Montan University accepted my application as a master student.

I’m now in Austria for 40 days and try to adopt myself to the daily life in this country.

While I was studying in Sakarya University we had established the Cycling Team of the university. We made several tours in and around Sakarya.

The reason why I’m writing you this letter is that I came here on my own and do not have the necessary financial support. The Austrian government does not allow foreign students to work unless I graduate which will take at least two years.

I wonder whether you know any institutions which give scholarships to students like me trying to complete their education abroad? Is there any one you can direct me?

Another problem is that I don’t  have a bicycle here. That is don’t have the financial source to buy a bicycle. If you know anyone or can direct me to anyone, I want to travel Austria by bike. Of course I’ll start with the city I live in for the time being.

Till know I have spent 62.75 Euro for food in 42 days. I take care which I buy and record everything what I buy. At this rate, I guess I’ll lose 10-15 kg in 3-4 months.

Things happened very fast. 15 days after my acceptance I arrived in Austria. On March 3rd German lessons at the prep school have started.

You may find it weird but I don’t anymore trust to institutions giving scholarships in my country. Generally such scholarships are given to the relatives, friends of the person in charge. Of course there are also some institutions that give scholarships to students deserving it. I didnt have the opportunity to contact them yet and this is the reason why Im sending this mail to you. I thought I may get in contact through you.

If you would ask me why I dont trust. Well, I started to study at the department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering of Sakarya University in September 2009. I was a teenager at that time. But instead having the pleasure of being an undergraduate I was faced with really bad situations. The life was not easy for me. I lost my father in February 25, 2010. Then, my family went through economical crisis. Therefore I could not adopt myself to the lessons in the first year. But in summer school and the next semesters I passed all my exams and graduated in the fourth year unlike students lazy for passing their exams. I didnt even lengthen my education for one semester.

Besides this I was the head of the Materials and Composites Unite of the Sakarya University Energy Technologies Student’s Assembly for the last three years. We produced 3 and 4 wheel hydrogen vehicles in the categories of prototype and urban. With these cars we received the European 7. rank in the contest of European Shell-Eco-Marathon Fuel Efficiency among universities in Berlin and became Turkish champion. Also we won several ranks among the Turkish universities in the contests held by TUBITAK Hydromobile Vehicles with Alternative Energies. Being a member of this team I developed myself in the composite division. I made studies with materials as boron fiber, carbon fiber, aramid fiber, kevlar and glass wool gaining deep experience.

I also applied to the 2nd Metallic Ideas R&D contest with 9 different projects. Some of these 9 projects were various modifications we made on the vehicle we developed. The others my graduation project, design project or the detailed homework I made throughout my 4 years education. 5 of these 9 projects came in the  final, the other 4 only to half-finals. Among the 40 projects in the final stage 5 were my project but I couldnt receive a podium rank. They were ranked as 6th, 9th, 11th and 17th. After this contest I was invited to Turkish Innovation Week and made really good experiences at this young age.

 

While working in such a team in the field of engineering, we also established the Sakarya Bicycle Team as I mentioned above and toured around Sakarya.

I have 3 more brothers and sisters all university students. One is studying music teaching in Marmara University, the other Management in Ege University and the last one in Anadolu University. While we were studying at different universities we didnt receive any scholarships given by  the government but pay back educational credit to all of us. Also we never received a place in the state dormitories. We were always at the reserve list and at the rows 1500-2000th. All of us worked during our education and supported each other. We worked and we studied. Now, I received a chance to continue my education abroad. If Ill succeed then Ill be an example to my brothers and sisters. But my only concern is that I must return due to economic constraints.

This is the reason why the idea to contact personally companies or institutions and apply for a support came in my mind. Since Im at prep school, I havent been assigned a supervisor yet. If I pass the exams Ill be able to choose a department at which I want to study; petroleum, metallurgy, materials science, mechanic engineering etc.  Most probably I’ll choose materials science.

The city I live in Austria is Leoben in Steiermark. Im not sure whether I fit into the project you are giving scholarship. I hope you would able to help me to open a new door in my life as you did to others.

Im sorry for writing such a long letter.

Thank you very much. Have nice days.

 

Oh how my eyes went into tears reading this message, you made me feel sorry Cem. I also read this message to our diplomat because he had been faced with similar situation!! Dude, is there no one left in the huge country that you to send an e-mail to an adventurer not having a bean? Anyway, it was a good idea. I don’t know foundations giving such scholarships neither they don’t know me!!! I sent a message to a friend of mine with whom we went to school and grew up together and supported me when I told that I was going to Japan “You’ll do it Gurkan”. I even went to her marriage by bicycle. : )

My dear Zeynep, I love you. Yes, she supported Cem via her company. On top of it, the field which Cem studied matched exactly Zeynep’s job. : ) That’s way Cem sent a message to me!!

This being the situation, I have a few words for the foreigners receiving a grand from Turkish government. As you see, there are such students in Turkish Republic not supported whereas you hundreds of kilometers far away living in the remotest places receive a scholarship. Some of these talk  bad about Turkey when they return to their countries. I met one of them. I guess he won’t forget our conversation for his life.

By the way, I have many stories to tell like this. Could write a book! What messages I receive.. People writing just for a small talk, telling about their memories, sending their travel videos. Stories continue so on. But we are a strong state. We find foreign students to support. Grant other countries with latest models of garbage vehicles, cars, bread production factories, minibuses, 400 vehicles etc. etc. And some break their neck to serve for their country. If these would work with the “New Turkey”, with the “Old Turkey”….

“Write down….  1 piecs of urinal , two pieces of alla turka toilet….”

Anyway, continue to stroll around in Tunisia. One day while I was thinking what to do, I received a message.

“Hi Gurkan abi. I’m Yusuf an athlete of mountain bike team of Turkish Bicycle Federation and now I’m in Tunisia. If you have time I would like to meet you.”

People following me would know I started to support Turkish athletes as far as possible. Athletes issue is a very important subject for me, therefore I’m spending all my resources for these athletes. I told Yusuf I would like to meet him. And we met.

Because his father’s job the whole family came to Tunisia and they settled down here. The only point he was sad about was that he could not ride bicycle in Tunisia. Actually he knew what to do. If he could get a bicycle he could present Turkey in Tunisia. I told him to apply for UCI membership when he went to Turkey. “But I’m not in a team anymore.” “Alright then you can apply as an individual athlete. Then, when you come back to Tunisia talk with the bicycle teams here. Since you are a Turkish athlete you have more chances due to recent happenings in this region. As a member of a team you can also attend international championships” I also talked to his father. They were intending to buy a bicycle in the shortest time. What happened I don’t know. In the same way, we had a conversation with his sister Merve. I gave her tips about job opportunities in Tunisia. They also invited me one evening to their home. We had a nice conversation. The youngest was planning to import electrical bicycles from China. Yusuf was complaining about his trainers. Either the trainers or the sports clubs were seizing the travel allowances given to the athletes. How true is this I don’t know, athletes please command on this. Let’s us listen from you what is happening? How many of you lost their dreams in terms of bicycle sports. Trainers or club heads command on this issue. We all want to know what’s going on.

Another day our military attache, me and our security attache Gokhan went out for a sightseeing tour in Tunisia. Our first stop was Sfax, then Sousse. Well, they were visiting this part of the country for the first time. That was what I was telling about. These diplomats get stuck in the embassy building for 3 the years they work. They have no spare time to travel around the country teeey teeeyyy. Unfortunately, at one instance Gokhan built a wrong sentence “Gurkan which route to take, you know the way” and he found his Mercedes coupe in the middle of a field.  I told him “just continue, this road ends at the beach” By this way I visited the villages around I hadn’t time to go. He doesn’t help asking: “Are you sure Gurkan?” Hahaha You must have seen his face. Anyway,  I must say that we had a nice day.

In talks with shopkeepers I was told that the number of tourists visiting Tunisia decreased drastically this year. In truth, they were down in the mouth. It is summer time and really almost all the touristic places were empty. The numbers of tourists visiting Tunisia will gradually decrease by time if people continue to rip off them. Before riding through Tunisia I had read the blogs of touring cyclists and almost all had bad experiences in this country. Generally the country very dirty and even in the smallest villages people try to rip you off.  That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any examples of hospitality. Of course there is. For example, one day the kickstand of my bicycle was broken. I found a welder and it became better than the original. He didn’t take money from me. But I gave him my toolkit as a gift. Where did I get this toolkit from? As I had mentioned before, things are given as a gift on the road which I pass on to the one who need. But I keep their remembrance. As far as I was informed by the foreigners living in this country, the service sector has been collapsed.  Even in 5 stars hotels the services were very bad. Tunisia is trying hard to establish its infrastructure after the revolution but things happen very slowly. Furthermore, people don’t want to work. Being this the situation, private sector is occupying one by one every single place in the country and the people feel uncomfortable (familiar issues). One of these companies is the Turkish company TAV holding.

TAV holding is a company constructing airports in Turkey and in many other countries. One of these airports, Sousse airport, is in Tunisia 60 km to the south of the capital Tunis. The actual target of this company was to win the tender for Carthage Airport. Well, there are a lot stories to tell about this project. Most of the workers in this construction area were Tunisians. The unions have power in this country which was also confirmed by the managers of the company: “Gurkan, in this country the working conditions are much better than that in Turkey. We can’t cope up with the union.” Furthermore, this airport has another feature, ATU the company where I used to work before is within this airport. That time I worked as counterman. I used to place the goods, count them, did the dusting and sold them. This has a long story, I have to write a separate paragraph to tell about that time.

Thanks for the hospitality of all.  They took me to the  airport and showed around. As an former airport employee I must say that: The security is much better than that in Esenboga airport/Ankara. I was informed about the emergency department and how the fire trucks stepped in. Dogan one of the mangers was so inspired that after I left he bought Kron brand bicycles for all in his family. Then he sent me a family photo but I guess I must have deleted it. If you read this paragraph please resent me this photo. : )

Sousse is the closest town to the capital Tunis. Its coastal line is very nice and the beaches crowded. Due to war, there were Libyans all over. People in this region seem in comparative comfort. There are Turkish doner and baklava restaurants. Also there are casinos in the hotels in this city but I guess the citizens are not allowed to enter. There were many Scandinavians in this region.

As in the other desert countries I traveled in, I must say that life starts at night in Tunisia also. Everyone goes on the streets when it gets dark. Especially the number of women, also conservative ones, on the streets increases at night. It was the same in Morocco but Algeria was far more conservative compared to these two countries. I don’t think that there are religious sanctions in these countries, at least in big cities. If there were any I haven’t come across.

There are old churches well preserved but as far as I know not allowed to be used for worship here and there in the city. We went with Ozkay to one of them. The same day I had also the opportunity to visit the famous Carthage port. That port being one of the oldest and most important ports in the world was just left by on its own unfortunately. TIKA (Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency) proposed a project for this port.

I’m sure it’ll make a monumental  work. Just a matter of winning the tender, isn’t it? I still remember the huge storage-house you built in the middle of Gobi desert. Even, your answer to the deputy prime minister of that period is still in my mind. “My son why did you construct this building here?” “Sir, I’m just recently assigned here, I didn’t also understand its reason.” With this answer you showed me the actual face of TIKA. As I travel around the world I come across your works here and there and see what you are doing. Just continueeeeee!

It is better to visit Carthage region in autumn, it won’t be so hot and you walk on side streets covered with bougainvillea and jasmine. You’ll find many small but beautiful places to sit and rest.

The Bardo museum in Tunis was very impressive which should be at the top of must-to-visit list. Till the opening of the Gaziantep Mosaic Museum it was the biggest mosaic museum in the world. I didn’t visit the museum in Gaziantep yet but I’m sure that the mosaics are not displayed on the floor of the halls. It is forbidden to enter the museum on high heels. Well, there are so many mosaics you walk on visiting the museum. By the same way all the walls are covered with pieces of mosaics.

I sat down in a corner and looked at these mosaics for hours. It was amazing. I definitely advise you make visit to this museum. It is mentioned that the biggest mosaic piece in the world is among the collection of this museum.  When I arrive in Gaziantep in 2020 I’ll visit the mosaic museum there. : )

 

It was hard to decide which route to choose when I was in Tunisia. Libya – Tunisia border was closed. Down in Africa was Ebola virus prevailing.  Then one option was to go to Italy by ferry and from there to ride through Balkans to Greece and from the to Egypt or the second option to fly to Jordan and continue my tour from there on. I was informed by our workers coming from Egypt that people were opposed to Turks due to latest conflicts between Turkey and Egypt which was later also confirmed by the Egyptians in Jordan. So Egypt seemed to be problematic to travel in for the time being. There is no worse situation than when conflicts between governments find their reflection among ordinary people. It was hard to decide and I said Jordan at the end.

This was the second time after UK that I prepared my bicycle for shipment. Isn’t there any bicycle cardboard boxes in Tunis? Not me nor the drivers were able to find a single box. Nilgun hanim (Mrs/Miss in Turkish) whose duty in Tunisia ended had agreed with a transportation company for her household goods. She sent me there. I went to the company to get a box. The employee gave hardly 3 small boxes. As I mentioned that I needed them for my bicycle he said: “Aaaa, I thought you were taking these boxes to Nilgun Hanim” and rejected to give them to me. At the end I had to pay for these boxes. : ) Dude, how worthy were these boxes. I packed my bicycle in these boxes and bought my ticket. We went together with Ozkay to the airport.

The flight ticket costs 200 USD, and the fright cost for bicycle is 300 USD hahaha. : ).. We bagged with Oskay to lower the price but succeeded only to 220 USD. Dude, I hope I’ll receive the Saudi Arabia visa otherwise I’m in the soup. Thank you to all who hosted and entertained me in Tunisia.

The next country, Jordan!

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