Welcome to Tunisia! As the Visiter L’Afrique Ambassador to Tunisia, I suppose I should tell you that Tunisia is a country rich in history and culture. One that has attracted waves of people from all over the world since time immemorial. A visually opulent nation at the crossroads of Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. But 1,000 books or blogs will tell you that.
Here are the four reasons why this blog goes a step further.
I give the outsider insider perspective
Proudly Muslim, the Tunisian people are a mosaic of Berber, Italian, Turkish, Cypriot, French and Arab descendants. And then, there is me. A black American-Ghanaian-Ivorian Christian woman working for a multilateral development bank. I have spent five years navigating completely foreign territory and now feel qualified to guide you through the hills of Ennasr, introduce you to my local cell phone credit top-up guy and help you update your Djellaba street style. I want to familiarize you with places in Tunisia that are not tourist traps but local treasures. Many travel blogs will tell you about the UNESCO Heritage sites or Tunisia’s role in the previous Star Wars movie sets. But how many bloggers will post pictures of Akon and Lauryn Hill performing live from the ruins of a Tunisian amphitheatre? *Points enthusiastically to self*. I will show you where visitors should be going, but miss for lack of knowledge. I am here to provide you with an unadulterated outsider’s insider perspective.
I do indulge in the media headlines
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room so we can truly leave it behind us, shall we? For many people, Tunisia first appeared on their map of the world in 2011 during the Jasmin Revolution. I had arrived in the country barely six weeks prior to this unexpected event triggered by the brave Tunisian youth. Their actions prompted a dictator who had been in power for decades to depart with no return. All in the span of a few days. Tunisia reappeared recently in international news due to the horrific attacks at the Bardo museum and at a beach resort in Sousse. But step one to falling in love with Tunisia is to not turn your back on her because of what you see on CNN. Because we still live here. You must remember these very tragic incidents do not represent Tunisia as a whole. We mourned. We felt angry. We cried. But Tunisia persevered. The lights never flickered. The doors are still blue. The olive oil is still virgin. I want to ensure that any mission to alienate you from Tunisia fails by exposing you the beauty of everyday living and the strength of the Tunisian people.
I have perfected beach bumming
Beach bumming is a culture in Tunisia. It represents a lifestyle of tranquillity and self-care. Tunisia awakened a completely new way of life for me. When I lived in Washington DC, I was always so busy trying to feed my Fear of Missing Out and eating Five Guys that I did not know what it meant to be still and take proper care of myself. Now, I practice yoga three times a week and am on a first name basis with my hammam lady. It is about being beach ready at all times both psychologically and physically. Tunisia is known for its magnificent cerulean coastline. With summers that can reach over 40C, knowing your way to the best beaches, hotels and general sloth inducing vacation spots is critical but you also need to understand the entire beach bumming ecosystem of Tunisia. Where is the best bikini wax joint? Who is going to fix my weave after I take my dip in the Mediterranean? Where can I shop for a unique fouta? All real challenges for which I have real answers.
I am obsessed with architecture and interior design
Besides travel and Africa in general, interior design is my passion. I run an interior styling company called Blueprint Africa that promotes African design and homewares. I started the company when I moved to Tunisia because I could not turn a corner without marvelling at the real estate, the mosaic tiles, the woven baskets, the ceramics, the kilims. Roman ruins, Ottoman architecture, colonial French buildings, rustic troglodyte houses and luxurious penthouses all contribute to a visual explosion of design that is Tunis, the capital city. Every corner here has some design flair. There is a very strong artisan and handicraft industry and the talent one finds in the local souks, trade fairs and concept stores is truly astounding. If your travel itinerary includes discovering new shopping experiences, stay here for the inside scoop on local creatives and where to buy stuff to bring boho global chic home.
This is not a typical travel and tourism blog. This is a lifestyle blog. My lifestyle as a foreigner in Tunisia that appreciates its sights and sounds, but also embraces the struggles of those whose country I call home. We are embarking on a journey to get to know this sleeping giant of a nation. Not from behind our Conde Nast tinted sunnies. But intimately. If you are down for that, then I am grateful you are joining me for the ride!
Have you been to North Africa? What were your impressions? Tell me in the comments section what you might want to learn more about living in Tunisia!