My partner is from Tunisia and he left his city 10 years ago and went directly to Paris. He hasn’t had the opportunity to return there at this time.
We met a year ago and last year we were talking about this summer, which at that time was in the future. We spoke about taking a trip to his country together and a trip to the mine.
I had never been to Tunisia and I was very curious. And going with a local is a different type of trip than going on your own.
We planned for Madrid and Tunisia.
The first trip we made was to Madrid to meet my family and friends. We were there for two weeks and it was great. His first time in Spain and Madrid. Everything was perfect. There were no setbacks.
Well, just an emergency visit to the dentist, but much better that it happened in Madrid than in Paris. The prices are much better and in my opinion the fastest and most efficient dentists.
After we spent a few comfortable days in Madrid, we quickly planned another trip and this time it was Tunisia. Almost a month to meet his family and his country.
The journey begins…
Two days before the flight, due to the high number of Covid infections, the country decided to take more drastic measures and one of them is that those who are not vaccinated have to spend a 10-day quarantine in a list of indicated hotels.
I was vaccinated and there was no problem, but my partner, all stubborn, did not want to be vaccinated and had not been.
We accepted that the quarantine had to be done and we did not cancel the trip.
We contacted the hotels but no, they did not make it easy to make the reservation. They told us that they were not ready yet.
We decided to go to the airport without a reservation, to see what would happen.
When we arrived at the airport they told us that they did not know what would happen to our flight. They were not sure whether it would leave or not. We waited three hours until the flight was finally authorised.
During the wait, the staff checked the PCR tests and vaccines documents and told us that without vaccination we needed a hotel reservation, confirmed and paid. We said that we knew which hotel but that we had not been able to make the payment directly with the hotel and we would do this when we arrived as we were going to go directly to the hotel. The girl’s reply was “Well, we’ll see what happens.
They finally authorised the flight and opened check-in and when we arrived to check in the bags, they told us that we need the hotel’s confirmation with the reservation paid. I was left with the problem of what to do? How do I do it right now? I was totally mentally blocked and I was, thinking why had nothing been said before in the three hours at the airport as I could have done the reservation calmly and quietly without standing at the counter.
I wasn’t sure how to make an immediate reservation with payment confirmation. In addition, we were almost the last to check in and there were only a few other people with the same problem as us.
Time ran out and the flight was closed.
I told the person in charge of the flight that since they hadn’t said anything until the last moment after having spent three hours looking at the ceiling at the airport, how could she make us pay for a reservation if she was not sure if the flight would leave or not!
In short, in the end, they closed the flight and because I could not make the reservation they did not allow us on the flight.
No, I couldn’t believe it!
I was speechless, I could not believe that we did not get on that flight after having planned everything. Thinking now we had to go home and goodbye my vacation. A vacation that I also needed. I needed to get out of Paris.
My partner went to talk to her, the person in charge of the flight and told her his personal story. The girl must have empathised and she gave us the option of a flight the next day at no cost and she helped us make the hotel reservation from my computer.
We made the reservation through a well-known website in less than 5 minutes. If she could have explained this to us before, we wouldn’t have missed that flight.
It was 6 pm and the flight she had offered us left at 7 am the next day, which meant we had to be back at the airport at 5 am, so we decided to stay and spend the night in the airport.
I have not spent many nights in an airport, but I can say that it seems quite inhumane that they do not have comfortable nighttime rest areas. All airports should have good rest areas without passengers having to think about what to do at night. It would be a great gesture. To take care of the customer.
We asked security where we could stay and he told us that there was an area to stay overnight and that there was a Carrefour Express that was open until 11 pm.
Until midnight the situation was not bad. With a computer, the internet, the shops open, some not very comfortable but not completely uncomfortable seats, a few beers and a few hits on a marijuana joint that I had by chance in my purse. We had a good time.
But at 12 am that night someone told us that they close this space and only a small space remains open near the entrance doors.
There was a little space that was almost full and we had to sit on the floor.
There was one person super prepared, with a mattress, pillow and sleeping bag.
The rest of us managed as best we could.
We spent 3 hours sitting on the floor, finishing the last beer we had bought and watching Netflix.
Fortunately, at 3 am the areas where you could charge electronic devices were opened again and many more seats were available.
From 3 am to 5 am my boyfriend slept and I continued watching Netflix, I no longer had the facility to sleep anywhere.
The time passed quickly, thank goodness!
With our hotel reservation and boarding passes, we got to check in the suitcases and when we arrived they asked us for the required documents, vaccination, PCR and paid confirmation from the hotel.
Suddenly my partner opened an email from the page where we had booked the hotel and said that the reservation was cancelled. Looking for the email of the confirmed reservation, we could not find it, I imagine possibly because of our nerves.
The check-in guy took my cell phone and asked who was the person in charge of the flight and she then tried to open the reservation from my cell phone but she couldn’t because the area we were in had no coverage and she could not open the application to see the reservation.
Luckily I had another phone that did have coverage and I got into my bank app it was reflected that the payment was on hold. As they did not understand Spanish then they gave us permission to go through. Phew!
We recovered the email where the reservation had been confirmed and with it, we passed the following controls, which were two more.
In the last control they saw that my vaccine had not been two weeks before but only three days, so I also needed a hotel reservation confirmation. Luckily we had the reservation and it was made for two people. They let me pass and go to the gate.
Finally, we were sitting on the plane.
The plane was supposed to be full, but in the end, it was only about 30% full. With the new quarantine restrictions, I imagine a lot of people cancelled. It could have been the reason. We did not know.
We finally arrived in Tunis around 9 am. A two-hour flight and it seemed that we had gone to the other end of the world since we had left the house the day before at 1:00 p.m.
When we landed in Tunisia, there was control as soon as we arrived inside the airport, for the vaccine, PCR and a paper that was filled in digitally and printed before leaving France. We went with the old paper from the previous flight that also would have been for a different airport. Luckily they didn’t even notice. I had arrived with my boyfriend and he with me and with that worry and mess of ordering them they no longer looked at any more data.
But then the dilemma began again, that of not being vaccinated.
They made us show them the hotel reservation. All this was in their language, so Ahmed was the one who spoke to them about everything.
They told him that he had to go to the hotel to pass the quarantine.
We continued and we arrived at the police checkpoint. They asked him a lot of questions about how he left the country 10 years ago. They even asked for his old passport with the exit visa. Good thing he had it!
We passed the control and we were going to collect our suitcases and suddenly a person appears who asked us to go with him as soon as we retrieve our suitcases, withdrawing our passports at the same time. He accompanied us to the exit so that we could take a taxi and go directly to the hotel.
We told him that we don’t have Dinars yet and he advised us to change money.
Ahmed then entered the airport terminal again and after about 15 min he left with changed money and a SIM card and a taxi driver with our passports.
I missed what happened, why this taxi driver? But without asking, I got into the taxi.
As we got into the taxi, we checked the address and left. I was not very convinced.
The first thing my partner did, was to put the sim card on the phone and start calling someone in his family. I kept telling him that things were not going well. Before leaving Paris I had looked at google maps and I had calculated the time that It should take us and the kilometres but he was so busy with his conversation on the telephone, going through everything that it seemed more important to talk on the phone than to pay attention to where we were going at that moment.
When he hung up and he and the driver start talking, we were not going to the hotel where we had booked. He was taking us to another.
The police had searched the hotel where the taxi driver was taking us, but we wanted to go to the other one for obvious reasons. There was confusion regarding the hotels as there had been a change of names of the hotel. The police and taxi driver had the incorrect hotel.
We also got to the hotel and it was full. The taxi driver called the police and we had to wait for permission to go to the other hotel.
Through all this, I told my partner he should have asked the taxi driver the price. He hadn’t consulted him or anything. We did the price calculation there and he made us pay him € 50. It seemed like a lot to pay to me for Tunisia, but since I hadn’t talked about it before, you have to shut up.
Typical of newcomers to a country, for me a new one and for Ahmed, it was more the inexperience of not travelling and having no idea of the price of taxis in his country.
We got to the other hotel and the taxi driver with our passports and my partner went straight to the director’s office. I had no idea what they are talking about, but in the end, the taxi driver wanted to leave.
I extended my hand to the taxi driver to say goodbye thanking him, thinking that everything was fine and when he left, Ahmed told me that the taxi driver estimated that he should have been paid more. How cheeky!
The taxi driver left the passports with the hotel manager.
Once we were in the hotel, I was so tired because of what we had been through.
The reservation was cancelled, nobody knew why, it was a mystery.
I did not find out anything, between them speaking in Tunisian and my partner telling me to wait because he trusted that we were leaving the hotel that day.
Ahmed told everyone the story of himself how he had not been to his country for 10 years. Also that just two months before his father had passed away and with a negative PCR done before leaving, that he could not understand why they would leave him locked up for 10 days and not let us, at least, quarantine him in the family home.
It seemed that his story moved them and a woman then appeared, like the manager of the hotel and told us that they would give us permission to leave.
But first, we would have to pay for three hotel nights, as if we had spent them. I will never understand that because we could leave but pay for three hotel nights?! It will be a mystery to me. For Ahmed it is normal, this is Tunisia.
We also tipped the woman because Ahmed said it was the right thing to do for having helped us.
The three nights in the hotel, I imagine it was to justify if the police came that we had been, but that we had escaped by taking the blame off them. Something like that, I think!
Authorised to leave with us passports, we went to the train station. When we arrived it was about 1:00 p.m. and the train that we had to take left at about 7:00 p.m. It can not be, more time waiting!
My partner called a driver from his town that his brother had told him about. They negotiated the price over the phone and he came to pick us up.
We were like two more hours waiting but at last, he came, picked us up and dropped us off at the door of the family home.
Finally, we had arrived!
What we spent the first day on the two drivers is what we spent in three weeks on taxis, buses and shared taxis. They both got our money’s worth. We were tourists who came from France.
After a month of travel, taking many more taxis, we found that we paid too much for our first taxi. Quite a bit more. We were suckers!
The family knew we were coming but did not know what day we were arriving.
My partner had left for 10 and a half years (I have already said this several times) and was arriving for the first time since then.
Tears were flowing from seeing the situation. It was super emotional.
Finally in Mahares!
THE STORY CONTINUES….