After my stop at the American Cemetery, I continued my walk toward the Roman ruins, hoping to take a walk through them. Instead, I enjoyed a 30-minute conversation with a Tunisian man in German and walked away so impressed at polyglots like him that humble me and my limited foreign language skills.
Polyglots Of Tunisia – A Great Conversation
Sometimes those unexpected conversations when traveling are the most rewarding, or at the very least offer a great window into better understanding the people of another country.
On my walk to the Roman ruins near Carthage, I was met by many men hoping to sell me on a guided tour. Their pick-up lines were all the same: “Where you from?” (Always in English). My response is usually Germany, not so much to mislead (it is my ancestral home) but in hopes they will just leave me alone. If I can greatly overgeneralize, Germans then to be direct and quick to say NEIN while Americans tend to be more willing to engage, having a different conception of what it means to be polite.
Anyway, all these guys responded in the same way, exclaiming, “Ah, Deutschland” and began to ask me questions in German, which I generally ignored since I was trying to make it to the ruins before closing time.
It has been a very difficult two years for tour guides in Tunis – I cannot imagine what it is like to depend upon tourists for survival when there are no tourists (for many months, they were not even allowed and for many months after, still did not come). In that sense, the desperation for business made sense.
While stopping near the old theatre, an older gentleman came up to me and asked me where I was from. He was wearing a suit and hat and I decided to have a chat with him. It was all in German. His German had a Tunisian accent and he may have recognized my American accent when speaking German, but we had no trouble communicating.
Over the next 30 minutes he told me about Tunis, its history, what to see, and of course mentioned several times that he would love to spend a few days showing me around (even though I mentioned often I was leaving the next morning). He told me about the 2010 Revolution and about his career as a professor and tour guide and then asked about the politics in Germany.
We ended our conversation by him telling me everyone around me is crooks and not to buy any souvenirs, because every “historical artifact” is fake. He then pointed to my wallet in my pocket and I thought he might ask me for some money, but instead he told me not to be a trottel (idiot) because pickpockets are rampant. This gentleman also speaks Dutch, French, Italian, and Russian (at least he told me that).
I bring up this conversation and my (much shorter) conversations with several other tour guides because it struck me as all the more ironic that not a single flight attendant on my Tunisair flight from Tunis to Montreal the following morning was willing to speak in English (German would have been asking a bit much), even though English is an official language of the destination. It is too bad I cannot speak French or Arabic.
I greatly enjoyed the conversation I had and really look forward to returning to Tunis. It is a beautiful nation with intelligent, lovely people (as we find everywhere, if we just take the time to engage). It’s just a short flight from most major cities in Europe – I was thankful for my brief time an humbled by the polyglots (I wish I could speak so many languages…even just conversationally).
Just saying, but writing these stories about how everyone is a crook, thief and pickpocket doesn’t exactly make one want to visit these places. It’s like suggesting foreigners visit New York, LA or Oakland and risk their lives. I should add Sacramento to this list after last weeks adventures.
Face it, our American cities are just as bad as these 3rd world sh#tholes. Sad what our once great cities have become.
Keep touting this. Keep going to Pensacola. The world thanks you.
Not sure about the world visiting but I do love how the tourists have packed Florida this past year, at levels passing 2019. Granted it makes traffic a nightmare but it’s great for the service economy and keeps our taxes low. And why thousands are moving here by the week.
Making fun of Pensacola says far more about you than me. I know this site naturally attracts people who think they are better than the average American but damn, why make it so easy to call you an elite and not be wrong?
I flew from Pensacola to Charlotte last fall and my boarding pass certainly made me LOL
Yeah, don’t worry, Jerry. We’re right on this guy like stink on a monkey.
LOL….like Florida is the ‘safe’ state. No shootings in Florida….unless you attend a school. It’s the state where Ivermectin & hydroxychloroquine work! That’s why no one dies of COVID-19 in Florida! Florida doesn’t want anyone to wear a mask or stop the spread of COVID-19, but if you say the word ‘gay’ or want an abortion they’ll throw you in jail! And enjoy that beautiful condo on the beach in Miami…..because it may suddenly collapse and disappear without any warning!
So happy your taxes are so low…..Florida is really showing the country how to do it best.
We love our children in Florida and always wanted our schools to be like Peter Pans Neverland. Sadly liberals and other freaks want to make it like Michael Jackson’s Neverland.
Luckily the good people of Florida have a Governor who stands up to the vocal small minority of pedos and groomers.
Numbers don’t lie, Florida is gaining residents and high tax states like CA and NY are losing them….along with congressional seats. And it’s burning you up.
What a narrow minded old dude
You don’t seem to be well travelled.
I hope you gave him a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.
Big hitter, the Lama….Long.
It’s interesting how many guides in cities are also University Professors. They really do add a bit of flair and a deeper understanding. I do though take exception to his “they are all crooks” line. Some may be, as everywhere, sure, but focusing on the positive as a host and guide is the first step to changing that culture.
Exactly, ignoring crime, criminals and reality is a great idea as a way to change the culture. No wonder you are a far left elite ignoring reality.
But I agree with you there is a higher risk being indoctrinated in a far left cult of liberal denial by a “University Professor” than actually getting robbed. At least the thieves are honest in what they do for a living. While the “Professors” created a generation of degenerates crying about not having to pay their student debt. And crying how stressed they are waiting for the next extension so they can buy the newest IPhone and travel instead of working hard and paying their bills.
Can I have some of whatever drugs you are taking? Because damn, that would be one hell of a trip you are on…
Sorry I’m not a liberal junkie, I don’t use drugs.
Too bad you don’t have any arguments against the truths I spoke. Instead you resort to insults immediately. Do we have people crying about not wanting paying their debts? Hasn’t it be proven a majority of colleges and their professors are liberals?
Then again, you probably just need more drugs. Keep supporting death with your innocent hobby.
I’m just here to laugh at anyone who have nothing better to do than whine about people who hold a different political perspective (not to mention generalize) on someone’s personal travel blog. Dude, you’re simply trying too hard.
I bought a fake roman coin from a vendor at Carthage, even though I knew the vendor was obviously lying when he told me it was real. I felt sorry for him because I was literally the only one there. He wanted $40, I gave him $10.
I’m glad to see the picture of the future Klint household pet.
I for one really enjoy these kinds of posts Matthew because it provides an insight into places and people beyond the headlines.
Whenever I don’t feel like playing the “where you from” game, I always say Panama. I don’t NOT look Panamanian, I speak Spanish, and people in Asia and Africa generally don’t know how they’re supposed to respond to it anyway. It’s a good diffuser.
I jist learned today im polyglot Lol. Did not kmow that speaking 6 languages you polyglot
Thank you for sharing your trip and experience. It is wonderful to learn about other cultures and a understand a little about how others live.
Tons of history there. Glad for your TR’s on interesting, less traveled locations like this. Your experiences with fellows like the man in your article are a great reason to keep on flying. Thanks Matt.
Could’ve done the article with looking at your DB face.
You probably meant “without”