For the past fortnight I have escaped the cold and rain of home, having swapped the British weather for the hot sunny days and balmy nights of foreign shores. This is my second visit to Tunisia and like the previous one I have once again enjoyed the friendliness of the people both in and outside the hotel which is beautiful and airy. The art work round the walls depict a life far removed from what I’ve known, and the comfortable seating invites you to lounge around and relax, perfect after the ample feasts served in the bright and roomy restaurant.
The way of life here is so different to ours, the people are more laid back than at home; everyone seems less intense, working at a far slower pace than we normally do. From what I have observed during my time here Health and safety has yet to be invented; painters balance precariously up makeshift ladders, hang from ledges that back in the UK would only be inhabited by pigeons. I’ve watched repair men use grinding tools and blow torches without gloves, goggles or overalls and when observing them at work they appear to use the tools correctly without messing about or taking unnecessary risks and so survive to work another day. They put themselves at enormous risks every working day and nobody blinks an eyelid.
On the other hand it appears that everyone is allowed to think for themselves, make informed choices and accept responsibility for any mistakes they may make. Remember when accidents were just that? Accidents? Sometimes preventative, sometimes caused by human error, but either way we all used to be responsible for our own follies and errors. You won’t find any Accident claim solicitors here yet, there is not one in sight, bliss. Unheard of back home!!
One of the greatest differences between home and the hotel was the amount of freedom afforded children on holiday. I didn’t hear a single adult say to a child, “don’t do that, you’ll fall, trip, hurt yourself, scrape your knees”, or other parts of their anatomy. Boys and girls ran around inside the hotel and out: kicked footballs, plodged and swam in the pool, pretended to be red Indians, sorry native Americans, spacemen, bank robbers and pirates. They chased each other and generally used their imagination and behaved like children used to do. By the same token, I never saw any children bleeding, crying, or looking too terrified to sneeze in case they had caught a cold and would be huddled off to bed by over-protective parents. The children ran and laughed and played, made friends with others from different countries and cultures and thoroughly enjoyed themselves doing it. They interacted with grown ups in the restaurant and by the pool, out at the crazy golf, and in the lobby and were generally very happy playing in the sun.
What was very striking to me was the lack of warning signs pasted as far as the eye can see and no government departments telling us what we should or shouldn’t eat, how or how not to live our lives. I ate my fruit and vegetables every day because I enjoyed them, not because some official decided what was best for me. I had chips without worrying the cholesterol police were going to drop on me from a great height. And I even treated myself to a bowl or two of banana ice-cream, I presumed this counted as one of my twenty a day (or did they again raise the number that is good for me whilst I was away?) I even dared to have a little glass of wine or two with my meals, only lunch and dinner, I didn’t want anyone gossiping about the old sot having rose with her cornflakes.
Anther thing that was fairly obvious to the untrained eye was that The Highway Code and speed limits are virtually non-existent. Yesterday, whilst waiting for the noddy train to take us back to the hotel, I observed a large 4 X 4 try to park in a small gap. The driver hit and shoved a little beaten up old car along the road, before deciding there really wasn’t enough space for his vehicle, before driving off up the road to park elsewhere. Drivers here appear to be more tolerant if slightly reckless, nobody I observed got angry if someone made a mistake. Everyone seemed to drive at such a speed they were able to stop instantly if the need had arisen. There were no road markings but the drivers allow ample room for each other, and for pedestrians crossing the street. In one way it is a very simplistic way of life, but not one I particularly envy. I don’t think I would like to completely adopt the Tunisian way of life but where the children and their freedom are concerned I think we have lost so much in the last thirty of forty years, and would gladly welcome it all back.