Football in Tunisia and growing my hair

 
Time passes no matter what
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"Time flies when you're having fun" they say. However it also flies when you're busy and stressed. In either case time passes and it appears to be a one way direction.
 
I've been thinking about time, while wondering if time might simply be the most valuable commodity we have in our lives? Time simply slips away between our fingers like sand at a beach. As a matter of fact you have less time now then when you started reading this entry! ;) If we continue that thought and assess that time is the most important commodity we have then we should be cautious with what we do with it. We should spend our time wisely. Something else I thought about was this: "When you travel you see, and when you've seen enough you can compare - and eventually you also learn". That appears truthful to me. My base for comparison has now passed 170,000 km (110,000 mi) of unbroken travel across 129 nations. My eyes have long ago developed a kind of "filter" which enables me to see some of the realities of a country quite rapidly. I guess it's a bit like interviewing a lot of people. Eventually you do not need to interview anyone for long before you have a good fix on who they are.
 
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I feel older than what my birth certificate says I am. Much older. I pretty much always feel tired and I really do want to go home. However I don't want to go home without completing the Saga. Something perhaps only a few of you know is that when I entered Africa back in April 2015 I decided not to cut my hair until I reached the last country within the continent. Algeria is supposed to be that last country and Algeria borders Tunisia. Oh how I look forward to having this hair cut off!! However the Algerian visa is notoriously difficult to obtain in any other country than the one you reside within. I honestly thought that the "African adventure" wouldn't take much more than a year to complete. You live - you learn. Thank you bureaucracy for teaching me a valuable lesson.
 
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Football! It's that game you play with your feet which the US Americans call soccer. They do that because they already have a game they call football and play with their hands? Oh USA :) Anyway, I reached Tunisia on June 3rd and the following day I met Aymen who pretty much introduced himself as a mutual friend of "Ben" (whom I knew from Djibouti). Within that same day Aymen invited me to the Olympic Stadium for a game scheduled between Club Africain and Union Sportive de Ben Guerdane on June 17th. I'm no huge football fan although I do enjoy a great atmosphere but in this case I pretty much figured I'd be long gone from Tunisia by June 17th. So, June 17th was last week and now we know that I was wrong. I'm still in Tunisia with Libya to the east and Algeria to the west. Anyway, the story is that Aymen is a super fan which doesn't really distinguish him from any other Tunisian. Club Africain is a capital based team and it was the final game. Aymen was exited to have me along and I was curious to see what it was all about. 
 
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Heading to the finals with Aymen and friends :)
 
The Olympic Stadium was built in 2001 for the Mediterranean Games. It can hold 60,000 spectators however since the "revolution" the government limits its use to 40,000 people for security reasons. Aymen and his friends were confident that I would witness his team win the Tunisian League that night. Sure enough only two minutes passed before they were in the lead 1 - 0 against Union Sportive de Ben Guerdane. Under the relentless heat and during the Ramadan, Club Africain kept that lead and won. The players were mostly excepted from fasting as all but one hydrated themselves several times during the game.
 
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Interesting thought: the Saga is now followed by more people than what you can see in this photo.
 
The 40,000 spectators at the Olympic Stadium complained a lot about the game being played during the early afternoon hours (3:30pm). However what can you do when the country's 90 year old president has decided to attend? Not much...you simply have to follow suit. I was told that the game could not be played at night due to security concerns for the president. I was really hot! And the stench of the breath of several tens of thousands who had been fasting all day got to me a few times. The crowd was alive though and there was singing and dancing as you might aspect! Trust me: Tunis was alive all night after that!! Congratulations on becoming champions for the 12th time since you were founded in 1920 :)
 
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Actually I've been feeling rather apathetic lately. Not constantly however more so when nothing else occupied my mind. As long as I have been involved in lively conversations then the feeling has been gone. However left to myself and on my own I have felt that hollow void inside me. It's been harder to stay motivated lately and then something happened! I received 2 minute voice recording from Tina in Zimbabwe. Tina hosted my fiancée and I last year while I was still in Southern Africa. She took good care of us then and apparently still takes good care of me now. The message told me a little about the rough conditions the Zim's are currently undergoing and then Tina mentioned that she read one of my recent blogs. She pretty much threatened me not to quit and told me how many people the Saga inspires. Tina also mentioned that no matter where I would be in life, I would have occasional challenges to deal with anyway. I'm paraphrasing here but I figure you get the drift. Tina's voice recording was wonderful and lifted some of the demons from my mind. I could even hear some Zimbabwean birds tweeting in the background. Gold!
 
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Enjoying Iftar with Florian.
 
You might also remember that I met the half Danish half Moroccan journalist Florian last week? Florian and I met up about 4 times and had a great time each time. Our conversation stretched from politics, religion and philosophy and all the way to history, culture and relationships. Great conversations which certainly also lifted some demons off my mind. So all in all you never know exactly where the help you need might come from?
 
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Hanging with "Ben" again 5 countries after I first met him.
 
Then "Ben" arrived. Mohammed "Ben" Ben-Braham is the country manager for Maersk Line in Djibouti and Somalia. We briefly met back then in the beginning of this year but stayed in contact ever since. He's a really solid guy and retuned home to Tunisia to celebrate the Eid with his family among other things. The Eid al fitr is a 3 day celebration at the end of the Ramadan and it is likely to begin on Sunday however that depends on someone's observation of the moon. Isn't religion funny like that? The Arabic world gave us advanced mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, arts, architecture and much more at a time while my countrymen were nearly still living in caves. The Arab world was enormously influential and even the very numbers we use today (0123456789) are Arabic. Yet to determine when the Ramadan will end Muslims still rely on an empirical observation? I know, I know...it's tradition...and traditions are important. However let's not pretend we can't calculate it for the next 1,000 years :)
 
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Ups...I got side railed there. "Ben" arrived and quickly invited me to yet another football match at the Olympic Stadium. This time Club Africain were playing against a Moroccan team and the game took place at night. So, football in Tunisia is...eh...well...let's say: "Passionate". Another word I could use would be: "Wild". Tunisian hearts definitely beat for football and when Club Africain's supporters at the Olympic Stadium figured they were going to lose 0-1 to Morocco they lighted all their flairs which looked spectacular until they started flinging them towards the unfazed policemen. 
 
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Fans have since assured me that this was a calm game :)
 
The smoke filled the arena while three spectators kept blinding the Moroccan goalkeepers eyes with green laser beams. I figured they would cancel the game on account of the laser beam stuff which was quite obvious?! However it appeared to be perfectly normal? Wild! That's when Club Africain scored their first goal and the fans had no more flairs to celebrate with. In the final minute of the game they scored again securing the game 2-1 to Club Africain. Congratulations once again and let it be noted that I was present at two Club Africain games in which they won both. Coincidence? - I think not ;)
 
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A lot of "steam" gets let out in this structure. It's a healthy thing for society ;)
 
Afterward "Ben" invited me to stay with him and his family for a few days in Nabeul. It's a costal city which was founded by the Greeks about 2,500 years ago and is famed for its pottery. In the landscape around Nabeul you can see olive tree farms, vineyards, clothing factories, aviation part factories and a gorgeous landscape which somehow reminded me of Spain. "Ben's" family is sweet as can be and food has not been scarce since I arrived. "Ben's" wife is pregnant with their 3rd child and therefore not fasting which means that along with their 2 young children there is plenty of food and drinks in sight. I still figure it must be hard for the fasting people to observe but at least I'm not alone in creating the temptation.
 
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As the Ramadan is nearing its end I see people being a lot weaker that before. You hear it in people's voices and see it in their actions. A lot of stupid things go on and I'm a lot more prone to looking several times in all directions before crossing the road. I've referenced before that their is an optimal way and a less optimal way of going about the holy month of the Ramadan. I'm sure that everyone who is "doing it right" is getting along just fine.
 
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Nabeul Medina is a lovely open space market.
 
However those who stay up all night overeating and still try to remain a full time job during the day appear to be desperate for that final observation of the moon :) Oh well, this isn't new to me... I figure this is the 6th or 7th Ramadan I get to witness. I maintain that the Ramadan is good for something though. One of the main objectives for those fasting is to discover hunger in order to relate to those less fortunate in life. It's a good thought.
 
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This tree has been growing out of the pot for many years. It cracked about 25 years ago and was replaced but the tradition is much older :)
 
Tunisians are generally good people. I enjoy being here while it takes up a lot of my precious time. I could certainly be stuck in a worse place than this. There is a general sense of honesty and honor amongst Tunisians. I find that they will not promise something they cannot keep which makes life so much easier for me. The same cannot be said about all nationalities. You'll naturally find your "rotten tomatoes" in Tunisia too and often I find that people who work with tourists they never see again are prone to being less honest. However it isn't really representative of what I see most of in this country. No matter where you go just keep in mind that people are just people and trust your intuition :)
 
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About two years ago I wrote the following which I pretty much still believe applies to today. I was in the Central African region back then and pretty much 5,000 km (3,100 mi) south of here:
 
Don't get me wrong. I love to travel. I love to encounter new cultures and expand my mind by sipping from a huge mug of new adventures. There is nothing like thinking you know something and then being proven completely wrong in your ignorance. It can be frustrating but eventually it is a beautiful flower which grows within your heart. Once you come to accept the new reality you feel richer and enlightened.
 
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I FINALLY got my photo with Habib :)
 
That's all for now. If you feel like leaving a comment here below then please do :)
 
 

Best regards

Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - tired, but not done!
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
 
Once Upon A Saga 
 
 
 
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Tunisian luxury without limits...1 more week

 
What is really important here in life?
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I am still in Tunisia. I'm trying to work out why we even call Tunisia "Tunisia"? Apparently it dates back to the Berber word for "laying down" or "encampment". The ancestors to today's Berber tribes arrived in Tunisia around 6,000 years ago (from the Nile region) and called it something similar to "Tunis". Then the Phoenicians arrived about 3,100 years ago and took over. Carthage was already established by then, originating out of Berber culture, and from this point on heavily influenced by the Phoenicians (the Phoenicians came from present day middle eastern countries). Okay, then the Roman Empire grew in might and power and they wanted Carthage about 2,100 years ago. The romans didn't bother calling it Tunis and renamed it "Ifriqiya" or what we today call "Africa". So well done Tunisia on laying name to an entire continent! (Ifriqiya also included parts of Algeria and Libya). The Vandals arrive about 1,600 years ago to destroy Roman culture and take over. 1,400 years ago the Arabs showed up and kept the region until 1,100 years ago when the Berbers took it back. 400 years ago the Ottoman Empire reached present day Tunisia and claimed it. Around 200 years ago the French started showing interest and they apparently added the "ia" to the "Tunis", so there you go...now we know that. Or since they were French you might argue they added the "ie" as the French say: Tunisie :)
 
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A small part of Carthage.
 
I cannot fathom why traveling to every country should ever be this complicated? 2 countries left in Africa. I have been to every African country without flying except 2?!? One is west of Tunisia and the other is east. A few days ago I found myself looking at different quotes. The one that caught my attention was this: "I am somewhere between giving up and seeing how much more I can take". For a lot of the Saga that sounds just about right. Fortunately I have a strong band of Tunisian brothers backing me up. If we start from the beginning we have Mohammed Ben-Braham, who is the country manager for Maersk in Djibouti and Somalia (www.maersk.com). "Ben" introduced me to Yussury Kallouche, who once was the managing director of Maersk in Tunisia but now works for BMMI in Djibouti (www.bmmigroup.com). One of "Ben's" best friends is Aymen Gharbi, who I met on my very first day in Tunisia. Aymen is the managing director of MAC Agency (www.facebook.com/MAC.Agency/). Shortly after that I was introduced to Habib Bouricha who is a good friend of Yussury. Habib also lives in Tunis (the capital of Tunisia) and is the managing director of Tandem Logistics (www.tandem-logistics.com/). Having done my talk at the Tunisia Maersk office I was introduced to Sly "Slim" Abid who was already a friend of "Ben", Yussury and Aymen. By the way, I'm keeping "Ben" in quotation marks because "Ben" would be Arabic and mean "son of". Since his name is Mohammed Ben-Braham he is "son of Braham"...or just "Ben".
 
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My friend Aymen and I.
 
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Still don't have a photo of Habib. He must be a secret agent ;)
 
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Slim brought me around for a few interviews and then dropped me off at the station. Here's a sample: https://www.facebook.com/Tunivisions.net/videos/1362938060450460/
 
Okay, so that's quite a cast to help me out. And they have all been amazing. Habib introduced me to Karim who lives in Sousse and works for www.boehringer-ingelheim.com/. Karim immediately invited me to come and stay in Sousse for the weekend and he would arrange for yet another 5 star hotel for me (Habib set me up for 3 nights at a 5 star hotel in Tunis). Sousse is located at the Mediterranean Sea just 140 km (87 mi) south of Tunis). I was waiting for some paperwork to come through regarding the logistics of the Saga and nothing was going to happen during the weekend anyway. So I made it the 90 minutes from Tunis to meet Karim and his family. Pretty much on arrival to Sousse he picked me up and introduced me to his wife, his mother and his 2 sons.
 
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Karim is a great well liked guy. His wife is both beautiful and a brilliant cook AND a doctor. His mother is funny as can be! :)
 
We finished an extraordinarily delightful meal and I ate way too much. Karim's family is lovely and the boys were in a hurry to get back to their Xbox while Karim's mother did her best trying to remember Danish royalty. I have to mention the food again! Wow!!
 
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Can't you just tell? ;)
 
Then Karim took me out to meet some of his friends and late at night he dropped me off at the Hôtel IBEROSTAR Diar El Andalous (www.iberostar.com/hoteles/sousse/iberostar-diar-el-andalous). It was a great place with beach, pools and spa. A lot of German and Russian tourist also enjoyed it. So many that the staff automatically spoke German to me as well. 
 
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On the morning of the day I returned to Tunis, Karim arranged for his father-in-law to organize a guided tour for me at the historical Medina. His father-in-law is Tijani Kammoun and speaks German, French and Arabic but not English. I speak German too but never thought I would do so in Tunisia? Apparently I would be speaking plenty of it?
 
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Tijani on the far right and Fattah in the middle. Great company!
 
Tijani picked me up in front of the hotel and we proceeded to meet with Fattah Ghachem who speaks English quite well. Fattah grew up in the Medina so his stories were absolutely unique. It was very interesting to see the Medina through his eyes! Fattah showed me the door to the building which used to be his home. He told me about how they used to play football in the narrow streets, played hopscotch and a variety of other games I remember from my own childhood in Denmark.
 
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The Medina of Sousse.
 
Fattah explained how all the doors used to be open in the daytime and how women would go from home to home and borrow stuff like salt or sugar if they didn't have time to reach the market. He also talked about the various businesses which have now disappeared as the new generation simply go to the supermarkets or malls. I met the last weaver in the region who is now around 80 years old. He'd been practicing his craft for 65 years and his ship had now been declared a sight for cultural heritage. Fattah told me that his sisters used to buy from him and that it was the latest fashion. Now it appears that there is no one to take over.
 
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Mr Abdelaziz Bettaibya is a living legend of the Sousse Medina.

 
We saw a mill which is still in practice today. People have their beans, grains, coffee etc grinded there every day. Everywhere we walked Fattah would point and have a story. An open area between shops would be where they used to sell meat. A government building we entered used to be off limits and protected by armed guards. So many stories...
 
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There's something very charming and social about doing things the old way.
 
Tourism is rather on the slow side since the revolution according to Fattah. On top of that we are in the holy month of the Ramadan and most coffee shops and cafes are closed now during the daytime so it was extra quiet. Definitely scenic and certainly worth a visit! And what an amazing way to see it: through someone else's perspective.
 
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The beach near Sousse.
 
I made it back to Tunis where Habib had found a nice apartment I could stay in for only usd 33/night. That was truly a bargain however usd 13 above my daily budget. After 3 nights of that I had to move to something more economic. My usd 20/day is not only for accommodation but also for transport, meals and visas. It's an average of course and with the generous accommodations at various 5 star hotels I had a bit to spare. 
 
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Florian and I have already met several times and had many great conversations.
 
A half Danish half Moroccan journalist reached out to me as we were both in Tunisia at the same time. Florian is his name and we met up and had dinner together while I was still in the apartment. Afterwards we headed out into the night of Tunis Medina which is a powerful scene during the Ramadan. I'm kind of fasting too between sunrise and sunset. Not because I want to but I can't bring myself to eat and drink before those who are hungry and thirsty. Also food is more scarce during the Ramadan as many cafes and restaurants keep closed during the day. 
 
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Zaytuna Mosque is known to host one of the first and greatest universitits in the history of Islam. Groundbreaking commenced in 698 CE.
 
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The nights then become spectacular events and the Tunisians definitely know how to have a good time. Socializing and dancing is a big part of it all after everyone has had something to eat. Anyway, Florian told me about a cheap hotel which I went to check out and it happened to be perfect for me. Usd 8/night and in the downtown area. Sure it could use a paint job, it looked rather worn out, had mosquitoes and lacked a toilet seat...but that actually feels more like my kind of place in some strange kind of way? I've been roughing it a lot throughout the past 3.5 years and it basically just feels more familiar to me. Isn't that strange? 
 
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Luxury is very nice but it is so much better spent in company than alone. A large bed in a beautiful bedroom, a living room with a view and all the extravagant luxuries make me feel a little lonely. I do appreciate it very much however it does leave me with a strange feeling. Maybe it's not the luxury at all? Perhaps I'm projecting feelings from something else? I certainly do want to go home. And as a bare minimum I'm anxious to leave the African continent conquered.
 
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Would love to see my fiancée at the end of this table. The stay at the Regency Tunis Hotel was a gift to the Saga from Habib.
 
There's is no doubt that my strong band of Tunisian brothers are doing their utmost to secure that I have a wonderful time in Tunisia and that I enjoy some extra luxury while I'm here. Tunisia is by all means a very beautiful and interesting country and I feel safe wherever I go. Having been out with Florian a few times I have walked the well lit streets more than once during the night. Tunisia isn't Disneyland so use your common sense but don't expect the worst.
 
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Medina in Tunis at night.
 
Tunisia would surely benefit from a rise within tourism to a level which it used to have before the "revolution". People here are kind and helpful. The food is good and there are plenty of sights. While Tunisia is predominantly a Muslim country there is both pork and beer for sale and on the menu. Besides with 1,148 km (713 mi) pristine coastline just waiting for you I'm not sure why you haven't booked your ticket yet?
 
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Tunis, Lac 2.
 
"Ben" messaged me that a friend of his who used to work in Djibouti was inviting me to stay at a 5 star hotel he now manages in Tunis. So that brings us up on three 5 star hotels since I arrived less than 2 weeks ago. Luxury, luxury, luxury...
 
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Le Corail Suites Hôtel was a present to the Saga from Corail Hotel: www.corail-suites.com
 
While I'm now closing in on the end of this weeks Friday Blog I can only say one thing: "Ben", Yussury, Aymen, Habib and Slim have all been amazing!
 

 

Best regards

Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - impatient 
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
 
Once Upon A Saga 
 
 
 
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I feel like Tunisia

 
A country between two giants 
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The official tourism slogan for Tunisia is "I feel like Tunisia". Neighboring country to the east, Libya, doesn't have one as far as I know. However Algeria to the west says: "Tourism for everybody".
 
You might think Tunisia is a small country? It certainly looks that way as it is situated firmly between two giants. The coastline of Tunisia is 1,148 km (713 mi) and a precious gemstone for tourism. The overall population is around 11 million people and that ranks them as the 79th most populous country in the world. By size Tunisia ranks 93rd in the world. However between Libya (14th largest) and Algeria (10th) you simply can't help other than to get dwarfed. Okay, enough about size...
 
It was time to seek some fresh air and make a change. So I left Malta. I have nothing against Malta. Actually I can't wait to go back some day. Besides, my hosts were amazing! I just needed fresh air and new opportunities and Tunisia was next in the list. So how did we get from Malta to Tunisia? In spite of what some of you thought logistics was never the issue. There are daily ferries (expensive) from Malta to Sicily (Italy) and weekly ferries from Sicily to Tunisia. And reaching Tunisia wasn't even a bureaucratic challenge. Tunisia welcomes tourists and I needed little more preparation to enter Tunisia (with my EU passport) than to show up and say hi. The reason for staying in Malta for so long was out of tactical consideration and it didn't exactly work out the way I wanted it too. Cut your losses, learn and move on: I feel like Tunisia.
 
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Sicily is beautiful with its fields, mountains and Mediterranean Sea.
 
It was an early 04:00am wake up in Malta for my 04:30am taxi to the port. Boarding went smooth and we left Malta around 06:00am. Two hours later we docked in Pozzallo where from a bus got me to Catania around 10:40am. I rushed to the train station and bought a ticket for a 3pm departure to Palermo. Then 20 minutes later I realized that I could join a bus to Palermo at midday and bought that ticket too. At this point of the story I would like to remind you that I hadn't had much sleep and perhaps generally also just aren't all that clever. While on my way back to the train station I was dreaming about getting my money returned for the train ticket. Keep dreaming sweetheart! That door was most definitely closed! It was "just" €13.50 so no massive disaster, however a stupid little thing nonetheless.
 
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A few minutes later a smile appeared on my face as I had a wonderful and strikingly beautiful idea! "Pay it forward!!" I imagined everything in my head: I would charmingly return to the disgruntled lady selling tickets and suggest she kept the ticket for the next person requesting a train fare. This way the ticket would brighten up a strangers day: "free ticket? For me? How wonderful!!" I felt it went well with the motto of the Saga and we all lived happily to the end of our lives. The woman behind the counter gave me the same attitude as if I had asked if I could borrow money: "NO, NO, NO - not possible!!" she said with all the charm of an old cat in a dumpster. And I went: "No, I don't want money back. For free. For freeeee" and she went: "NO, NO, NO...not my job!!" and I thought: "that didn't go at all like planed..."
 
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Palermo by day.
 
What do you do with a valid ticket you don't need? Give it to a homeless man? Wait near the line until someone orders a ticket? Stick it to the wall or a billboard? Nope, none of that would work and I was getting late for my midday bus departure. The ticket went into my pocket and I concluded that a stranger is a friend you've never met before but not everyone is ready for that yet. 
 
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Palermo by night.
 
Around 3pm I had reached Palermo and having walked 45 min through the beautiful city I reached my accommodation for the night. By chance a Danish fellow working in Rome was there too. So we decided to have our dinner together. Before leaving we met a US American who joined us and the three musketeers were formed! We found a nice restaurant and I had Italian food in italy. The waiter mocked me a bit for ordering water and no beer nor wine.
 
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The next morning I got up at 08:00am, had my breakfast, packed and walked about 30 minutes to reach the port. After several hours, in classic Italian structured chaos, the other passengers and I were allowed to board. Smooth sailing and the good ship "Catania" reached Tunisia at around 11pm. In effect I had spent hours traveling between Catania (town) and Catania (ferry). There must be a joke or a riddle in there somewhere? Happy to have reached Tunisia I followed the other passengers towards immigration. Immigration decided they wanted to speak to me and as a result I officially stepped into Tunisia around midnight. Ignoring the taxis I went searching for a wifi connection which I found at a hotel about 25 minutes from the ferry. I discovered that my accommodation in downtown Tunis (capital) had not been confirmed and settled for a night at the hotel which had provided me with wifi for free.
 
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The next day as I was having breakfast a man entered the dining area and headed straight for me. The man was Aymen, a friend of Mohammed Ben-Brahem, whom I know from visiting Maersk in Djibouti. I had been communicating with Aymen via email but had missed that he would come to the hotel. Fortunately I had finished eating and was just going through my emails when he arrived. Because during the Ramadan I really try my best not to tempt those who are fasting. It is not necessarily something you need to observe. I just think it's cruel to eat or drink in front of someone who might be hungry or thirsty. Several Muslims have meanwhile pointed out that it's no problem because "they are used to fasting 1 month a year". All I can say is how I would feel about someone enjoying something I'm trying to stay clear of.
 
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Aymen is a rock solid fellow who immediately suggested that he could show me around greater Tunis. Apparently Aymen had sent me an email I had overlooked. In the end it all worked out. I quickly packed my bags (I have some experience with that) and drove off with Aymen. First stop was the airport because I needed a SIM card. Can you taste the irony of the location?
 
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Afterwards we went for a spin through the beautifully green Catharge area and made a stop at Sidi Bou Saïd which is absolutely charming and boasts some spectacular views of the Mediterranean. After telling about how he was planing on making a few arrangements for me Aymen dropped me off downtown to meet with my host. I had picked my downtown accommodation through AirBNB and it didn't get cheaper than $12/night.
 
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$12/night is still quite pricy for a $20/day budget. However Tunis appears to be rather expensive when it comes to accommodation. I was hoping for a $5/night dorm room somewhere but couldn't locate one. Amen has rented an old apartment in downtown Tunis and the location is spectacular. He is an artist and an online gaming designer. The room was rather basic but was all I needed. The toilet and bathroom sink were functional and I've spent months bathing out of a bucket before. After my first night of warding off mosquitoes I solved that problem by buying some repellent. Hygiene in the apartment didn't appear to be the main priority but still I've seen a lot worse. Amen was great! Such an amazing personality and he was more than happy to help me in any way he could. One night we headed out for Iftar together with a few of his friends. Iftar is the meal/celebration which follows after the sunset during the Ramadan. Another night we sat and enjoyed one of his mothers home cooked meals which he had thawed it up and heated it. After my prebooked 3 nights at Amen's castle he offered me a discount if I wanted to stay longer. However that did not become relevant just yet because I was introduced to Habib who is a good friend of Yussuri, which is another friend I made in Djibouti. What are the odds? 2 separate connections in Tunisia made by 2 separate connections in Djibouti! 
 
 
 
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La place de la Kasbah (seat of government).
 
Anyway, Habib picked me up one evening and took me for a spin. He runs his own logistics company (www.tandem-logistics.com) and after getting to know each other we decided it could be fun for his staff if I came by and told them about the Saga. Quite like Aymen, Habib is also very well connected and not just talk. In fact I have found that at least 4 different Tunisians have made promises to me which they have kept. Habib then mentioned that he could offer me a 3 night stay at a 5 star hotel near the beach? I thought he was joking but he wasn't. At first I felt like I couldn't accept such a gift but Habib ensured that he knew some people and that it wouldn't be a problem at all. So with Amen's squatter style apartment as my alternative I was happy to accept.
 
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Just found out I don't have a photo of Habib? But here's his staff :)
 
The next day Habib picked me up and brought me to his office. I met the staff and made my presentation. I don't really need a map for my presentation but it is helpful. Habib had told me that he had a map I could use. He didn't say that it was wall to wall! Afterwards I was dropped off at my 5 star hotel at the Regency Tunis. Good stuff!
 
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My 5 star hotel is right on the beach. However the view was a little...well...eh?! ;)
 
Something else which happened before moving into my 5 star palace was I finally got to meet Gunnar Garfors. Gunnar is my Viking brother from another mother. He is Norwegian and holds a rather impressive profile: he visited 5 countries on 5 continents in just one day, a Guinness World Record. In 2013 he completed visiting every country in the world, as the youngest hobby traveller ever. And in 2014 he visited 19 countries in just one day, another world record. Garfors also published "198", a book on his travels to every country in September 2014. We had been corresponding together for several years and knew of each other but this was the first time we would meet.
 
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Finally met Gunnar. Great guy. Do you think they made it?
 
Gunnar was in Tunisia do to make a new Guinness World Record by visiting 6 continents in 63 hours. Thereby breaking the former record for FASTEST JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD VIA SIX CONTINENTS! You could argue that it is crazy. In fact perhaps you should. It's a lot of effort and a lot of money to get it right. Gunnar wasn't alone for this record run. He had teamed up with a group of other people including a rockstar and everything is sponsored. A few nights after we met the http://recordrunworld.com/en/ team left to begin the attempt from Algiers in Algeria. Previous attempts have all been set to start and finish in Cairo, Egypt, so this is quite interesting. The difference between success and failure comes down to minutes. If you have a minute then check out the webpage.
 
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Inspiring, educating and entertaining at www.maersk.com in Tunisia.
 
What else do I want to tell you? Well I guess I want you all to know that Tunisia appears to be super safe. The people here have been really kind and forthcoming. Maersk Tunisia extended an invitation for me to come and present the project at their office in Migrene near the port. Counting on my fingers I guess that makes it the 11th Maersk office I visit and the 13th talk for Maersk's employees. It's always a pleasure to present for Maersk as the Saga is such a grand logistical challenge and that goes well hand in hand with the worlds largest container shipping company. It is also Danish which makes it redundant for me to explain where I come from.
 
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Here im hanging with Ali on the left and Abdelhamid on the right. Two more very kind Tunisians who I was happy to meet.
 
Yeah, I guess that will have to do for today. I'm happy that I made the transition to Tunisia. It's a good place to be and I see a lot of opportunities here. It's a country with a lot of history and most importantly it was also the country which presented some of the settings for the very first Star Wars movie from 1977: A New Hope ;)

Best regards

Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - well connected
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
 
Once Upon A Saga 
 
 
 
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Once Upon a Saga
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