North Africa – Sfax – Insane riding and tramps in trees!

January 19, 2013 / Tunisia / 0 Comments /

Sfax has been a shocking introduction to insane riding skills!  I remember a time I used to be dubious to filter even without panniers but yeh… there’s no getting out of it here!!  The driving is absolutely mental beyond belief… people going down the wrong side of the road, motorcycles and scooters EVERY WHERE just magically appearing next to you.  Weirdly though it’s like being in the middle of a school of fish, swishing in every direction in what seems like an erratic manner but… it just works.  You have to grow a pair… a very big pair… rapidly!

When we arrived we thought we knew a location to a campsite but unfortunately it was no where to be seen.  We had dozens of people riding up to us on their bikes waving and eventually one chap riding alongside Sam asked us to follow him so we did (I mean… why not!).  He ended up pulling up and chatting to us in broken French/English.  Indicating to him “campsite”, he nodded and told us to follow again and so doing a U turn we travel back down the road (into on coming traffic on the wrong side of course) before crossing onto a roundabout and stopping in the middle of the lane to talk to a police officer.  After a few minutes of blocking the road, we are then directed to another officer… and another… and another… and after crossing the town left right and centre we eventually stop outside a main police station where we meet the chief of police.

Everyone is laughing and smiling but suggesting in charades and broken English that there is no camping in Sfax.  Bugger.  The police chief then seems to have an idea and asks us to follow him in his flashing police van so we weave our way round the town through red lights and muzzling through traffic, over pavements and between market stalls to eventually reach the French Embassy and Central Police Station.  Sam dismounts and follows the Police Chief on foot into a square where I can see him pointing to a flower bed with palm trees and then back at the bikes… he wants us to camp here?!?!  Sam comes back suppressing a grin and confirms to me that they want us to camp on the roundabout… there’s no where else for us to put a tent but it will apparently be safe because of the Police Station – I should go look!  Laughing, I follow the Police to this patch and then around the corner to another grassy knoll which is an alternative option!  Thinking of our skin tight budget, I momentarily consider this option until I take a look to the tree adjacent where nestled in its branches laid a dozing tramp, softly snoring with a man size poo directly below him on the grass.  Maaaaaaybe we will pass on this occasion!

So.  With no where to sleep and surrounded by a bunch of police officers and random people on bikes, sun setting and tramps awakening, we start indicating that perhaps we would like to stay in a hotel.  Again we are escorted around and eventually we pull round the back of some buildings and are told to park in an underground entrance to a cellar and kitchen area where the porters poke their heads out looking slightly confused.  The police wave and nod though and all is good!  We are then taken to a hotel reception above where the police insist that we have a good rate, knocking a good 50 dinars off the final price.  Ever so grateful we thank them and with smiles and handshakes they disappear and leave us to this French-influenced middle eastern hotel which is luxury for us!

It’s been amazing!!  For me, the riding has been a massive confidence booster.  I have been doing things and riding in ways I never thought I would be capable of but having been put in a situation where I have no choice you just kind of crack on with it.  It just… happens!  Sam was shattered when we crashed in the hotel room and suffering a wee bit with Land Legs after the ferry ended up conking out instantly.  We are very much relaxed, chilled out and happy :)


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