“Aren’t you scared to be here” I got asked trying to buy a sim card. Arriving in Tunisia a few days after a terrorist attack that killed 40 or so tourists, it is easy to be a bit paranoid even though I always know there is more chance of dying in a car crash than being gunned down in the street. The English student at the airbnB place where I was staying was so terrified he only went out to buy food, mind you the apartment a few doors down had been raided in the middle of the night with SWAT police dragging out a alleged terrorist
On entering the hall there was a wave of noise and shouting “de monde entier avec les femmes” – the whole world with the women‘. It was an old lecture theater full of activists from all over the world. It was hard to determine what was going on but every few minutes the women at the front giving an impassioned speech about the need to resist capitalism and the patriarchy in Arabic would be interrupted by even more impassioned group of women yelling, banging drums and and waving flags. It was incredible chaos.
Cullo Cull ‘- eat , eat’ Most days at Audreys family’s village in Mardia involved moving from house to house to eat couscous and watch Arabic Jerry Spring on TV. While Audrey was getting henna (plant like tattoo dye) done one night, her cousin asked if I would like some on my fingers as well. It is traditional when someone gets married to have their fingers painted with Henna. I explained that maybe just one finger would be better, as we were not yet married. Later the next day an uncle took me aside to explain the significant of the henna tattoo – On the wedding night men get their three fingers painted to symbolize the virginity test undertaken with three fingers. My little pinkie was red for over a month.
300,000 people in Tunis marched for Peace and against terrorism. Part massively uplifting, part feeling a bit weird to be on a state sponsored protest that will probably support a crack down on human rights, part really hung over and feeling seedy
An impromtu concert by some french activist musicians under the doors to the old city. Singing along to protest songs, “Wo Yo Yo Yo –citoyen du monde -partisan d’un Monde sans Frontières” and crazy dancing with an old guy who takes centre stage to bellow the chorus in a deep opera like voice ‘On lache rien’-We won’t give up – feeling truly happy, like this is what I want to be doing – time stood still