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Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Tunis was the best and worst of what I expected in North Africa during Ramadan. We boarded a bus for a tour of Carthage and the Medina. Carthage was a world heritage site, largely in poor shape, but interesting none the less and with beautiful views of the city below. The Medina was a typical Arab/Berber market, made far less bustling, thank goodness, by observance of the Ramadan holiday where generally folks do things at night and sleep during the day. The narrow alleys and tiny shops of the market flow one onto another without any plan or order. The shopkeepers try to pull you in "just to look" and try to convince you to buy. They had no shame about staring at the tourists. Erik made a deal for some Christmas presents for his brothers. I couldn't really get into the spirit of it. I like to have a price and decide if that's what I want to spend my money on rather than haggling on a price, so shopping there felt more stressful than fun to me. By the time the tour returned, I was ready to be back on the predictable economy of the ship. Sure, you'd pay more for some things, but I never feel hassled or cheated. I get to choose to spend or not without guilt trips or drama. Many places I travel, I think I could live there, but Tunis was not that sort of place.

Back on the ship, we had plenty to entertain us. We'd been introduced to Alfred and Seymour on the first night, but got the full blast of their show at 6:30. Imagine two black guys from LA in Lakers duds riffing off each other for 45 minutes on a cruise ship filled nearly to the brim with middle-class white folks. They kept saying, "You spent seven thousand dollars on this cruise. They ain't giving your money back. You better find SOMETHING to laugh at!" Here's a sample:

They closed their show with an unexpected message that if you don't like what you're doing, read a book, learn something, and make your life what you want it to be. Cool.

We left there and headed over to Studio Sea where we played The Feud. It's like Family Feud, only instead of playing against another family, we played against the other side of the bar. It started off with our team doing really poorly, down by over 300 points, but we stole the points for one round and won the final two rounds and squeaked in with a win. Go team!

The least well-described event on the boat was Magic Quest. It was in Rockin Bar D at the Adults Only hours. It was described as a game. We were utterly in the dark until dinner, and we knew we wanted to go to One Hit Wonders after the game, and our server overheard us talking about it and said it was sort of a scavenger hunt. Ah! A scavenger hunt! Wait... in a half and hour? Well, we opted to go check it out.

I realize at this point that I failed to mention The Match Game on our first night. There were three couples on stage: a couple married just about a year, a couple married ten years, and a couple married 51 years. By the end, we knew a little too much about each of them, and were all rooting for "The Bruce-ster," half of the 51 years married couple. There was this question about "making the magic" that ended with a story of them, another couple, and a boat on the Mississippi. Anyway, we ended up sitting down to Magic Quest with the other two couples from the Match Game, and Team 4 had this game nailed! It was indeed a scavenger hunt, but one where everything you need should be in the room and you just have to get it to the front fast enough. I had my purse with me, so I was solid gold. American dollars? Done. Euro? Done. Thong? Well, the girl from the newlywed couple had that. (And yes, one guy brought up his flip-flop.) And she was also willing to swing her bra over her head. And she had a tattoo. And the guy from the other couple was willing to wear my lipstick, shoes, her bra, and carry my purse. By all rights, we should have one, hands down, but they let another couple have it. Still, we had an absolute blast.

After that, they brought out shots and played one-hit wonders. If you could name the song, you got a free shot. Egad! Luckily, it was a sort of one-per-person thing. I don't usually play drinking type games, but I was good at this one, so I gave answers to others as well. And well, I knew one right off the bat, so after being chided that single gulping was required as this was not a sipping game, I chugged it and went back to dancing like the dancing fool I am. By now, we were known as the dancing couple on the ship. And the best part of the ship is that you can drink all you like and there's someone else driving the boat!


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