For us, being new in a country always means organisational matters first. Changing money, getting internet, checking the food situation and above all: how does it feel to be free?
Before we enter Tunisia, however, we have to pass through a real border control for the first time in our lives (if you leave out the one to Georgia).
We are let onto the car deck, board our Felix and are ready for Africa. But we didn't count on customs and the border authorities. And we learn the first lesson: there is strength in calm, or in other words, what can be done with three people could also be done with five or ten.
So we rumble off the deck, following the only other camper in the hope that he knows where we have to go. He doesn't, so we wander around the harbour together. First stop: border police. Here a piece of paper, there a form. We show our passports, the first stamps go into our passports.
We are waved on, stop, show our passports, another form, this time in Arabic. We are asked to write down what we are carrying. I see. In Arabic? Is French also possible?
Meanwhile, I thank the language god that Gerd can speak French so well. Because with my newly learned English vocabulary, nothing works here.
We roll on, this time into a hall. "The wheels on the line, please! No, not next to it, right on it!" All right. Now all the cars and vans start the big unpacking. Tetris-like they stack everything next to the cars. We sit in Felix and struggle with the forms. Should we really list everything? We decide to shorten the whole thing: clothes for 2 people, kitchen utensils for 2 people, food for 2 people, laptops. What does standup paddle board mean in French again? No idea.
The man from customs looks at the list, nods, makes a circle on it, several stamps follow on several forms. Now it's time for the inspection, Felix is checked very carefully. All drawers, all cupboards. Gerd has to remove the bench again because there is a water tank under the bench and they look there too.
As the inspector searches through my secret box of Christmas sweets (and a little stash for Gerd's birthday present), I start to shake. I hope Gerd isn't watching so closely. It would be a shame to spoil the surprise. But the customs officer only laughs because he has discovered a whole cupboard full of sweets.
The whole thing goes quite calmly and very politely, at some point we are allowed to drive out of the hall again, the men with the unpacked vans will probably spend part of the night here packing again.
We think we've done it all. Now it just goes on: all the slips of paper, with and without stamps, now have to be taken somewhere again and handed in, stamped again and shown somewhere again. I lose track, the only things that get my full attention are our passports and the import confirmation for Felix.
At some point we are at the harbour exit, quickly exchange some money (probably at a super-bad rate, but so what!) and roll onto Tunisia's roads.
The evening is pitch black, the road signs Arabic and partly French. We fill up with "purple diesel" for the first time, as we have learned, sans soufre, without sulphur. The price of diesel (70 centimes or cents per litre) quickly makes us forget our bad exchange rate.
We continue to the airport, where we suspect firstly ATMs and secondly the sim card providers. And right: we buy 55 GB each from two providers (Orange and Oreedoo) for about 12 and 15 francs. 4G all over the country. So we are ready for work for the next week.
Now we have to find a pitch. OK, we find one, right by the sea. Unfortunately, the street is quite noisy and only quiets down around midnight, but no matter, we have already done everything today that usually has to be done in the first few days.
We fall into bed dead tired, Gerd is still chasing mosquitoes (that drives me crazy!), the excitement slowly subsides and maybe our souls will slowly arrive here. In any case, we would be ready.
News #1 On 24 June we will give a talk about our trip in the van in Konolfingen, Bern, Switzerland. All info and the possibility to Registration here. We look forward to seeing you!
News #2 I am currently writing a book about the encounters on our journey. If you would like to test-read a chapter or two this summer, please contact me by email.
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