844 days, 20,256 hours, 1,215,360 minutes, or 72,921,600 seconds. That is the approximate duration of my world tour. I never wanted it to end and now, in a manner of speaking, I suppose it never has to. If you wish to go by country do so by clicking on one above. They are numbered in the order I visited them, more or less. If you enjoy reading about it even a tenth as much as I enjoyed living it then you will not have wasted your time. Grab a refreshing beverage, settle in a comfortable chair, and make a journey across the world, experiencing it as I did. Then get off your ass and check it out for yourself. You're not getting any younger.

Ass of Mutton & Bulla Regia (Northwest Tunisia)

[Author's Note: I arrived in Tunis on September 10th, 2010 and left two months later. The Arab Spring began in Tunisia on December 18th, 2010, a day after the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi. I missed the festivities by about a month or so. Some would say I dodged a bullet but I cannot help feeling like I missed the boat. How often do you have the chance to watch history unfold from the front row? It is interesting for me to go back and read about my experiences at the time. Yes, I could almost taste repression in the air but if you told me the powder keg was about to ignite I would have been incredulous in the extreme. Yet, there it was boiling just beneath the surface. Keep this in mind when reading my Tunisia posts. It makes for a fascinating subtext.]

Oct 29th, 2010 - The north of Tunisia is worth a look even if the glimpse entails merely passing through via a slow meandering drive. Rolling hills, vast tracks of picturesque farmland, seaside cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean, nearly deserted country roads, and an all around mellow vibe make it worth a peek (with your own transport of course). While making a pit stop in the small city of Tabarka we stocked up on necessities, namely six bottles of wine, two bottles of gin, a bottle of vodka, and enough tonic water to bath in. 

As you might guess alcohol is sometimes difficult to acquire in an Islamic country like Tunisia (although not as difficult as you would think). As Tabarka is a tourist town certain allowances are made. We took advantage. Tunisian wine is not only fabulous, but fabulously cheap to boot. A deliciously smooth bottle of vino will only set you back $2 to $4. No 'cheap wine' bite and minimal hangover. It's an alcoholic's fantasy. So we threw the box of spirits in the 
Punto and skedaddled.

We took in the view from a seaside promontory for a short spell, took a shits-and-giggles drive to the Algerian border, and made our way to the 'mountain' town of Ain Draham (900 meters). On the way into town a couple members of Ain Draham's finest were kind enough to stop us at a checkpoint for a passport and registration check. They provided free smiles. 

Leslie and I were hoping to execute a short hike up Jebel Biri (1014 meters) the following day. We made our way to a nearby hotel that evening to inquire about hiring a guide. The guy at reception spoke no English and told us (I think) to call in the morning to find out if a guide was available. Instead we just showed up at 10 am and went for a stroll ourselves. It is not exactly the Himalayas and we did not bother going to the top (marked by a cell tower) but it was a enjoyable morning none the less. I'd read that the area was ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding but I am not sure how to make that happen. It probably requires some grasp of French and a nonchalant attitude concerning money. Then again perhaps we just missed the signs. 

On the way out of town we stopped for a bite of sheep ass. As we passed a roadside stand a man waved to me. Now when a man standing in front of a grill next to a glass case with a butchered animal hanging inside waves in your direction you clearly have no choice but to turn the car around and eat whatever the hell he is selling. At the time I did not know it was sheep and I'm pretty sure we were not actually eating the ass but I suppose it is not out of the question. He originally wanted to grill up a whopping two kilos (that's four and a half pounds) of meat! Seeing as Leslie and I are not starting defensive tackles for the NY Giants I motioned and grunted for a bit less. Although exceedingly tasty, eating sheep is akin to gnawing on a ball of fat. Yummy. He, of course, overcharged us but this was my fault for not inquiring as to price initially. So this is what happened:. When Johnny Sheepbone saw the blue license plate and two whitey folk inside he beckoned us closer for a chance to serve an obnoxious pile of meat and a subtle screwing. Glad I could do my part. 

Our next stop was the Roman city of Bulla Regia. Originally a Berber settlement the site is famous in the world of archeology for its well preserved semi-subterranean homes built with the intense summer heat in mind. What is most notable about the site is the pristine nature of some of the underground dwellings, no doubt aided by the dust and debris that buried the region after the Arabs abandoned the area in the 7th century. Although most of the mosaics characteristic of North Africa have been moved to the Bardo Museum in Tunis there are still few in situ. 

From Bulla Regia we made a short stop at Chemtou, the site of the largest marble quarry in North Africa. It was where the Romans extracted the highly coveted yellow marble that was prized throughout the empire. Although it is fascinating to ponder the effort it must have taken to exploit this site it was not a terribly exciting stop. The fact that the museum exhibits are labeled in French and German, no guides presented themselves to us, and we were a bit tired may have colored our perception. Perhaps, others would find the site more appealing. 

And then it was off to Le Kef……

North Africa's Roman version of Route 66

Old School Pooper

Statute with removable head. Makes change of leadership prep a hell of a lot easier.

Chillin' in the Baths of Memmia

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