Carthage Explorations (no elephant sightings): May 2024.


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Okay, heading off to Carthage, which i’d mistakenly thought was just one big ruins site. Instead, because it was such a giant city back in the day, it is many many different excavated sites scattered throughout the modern Carthage neighborhood. And because we did some of our scheduled Tunis sight seeing yesterday, we were able to visit many more things today. Bonus.

Yassine, our guide, is a Big History Buff, and we are learning loads. Including all the Roman negative propaganda against the Phoenicians and later the Vandals. It’s very cool. Also amazing how recently many of these sites have been excavated (most didnt start until after the French colonizers left and Tunisia got to govern itself in the 50’s or 60’s. And many in the 1980’s and even making discoveries today). The Phoenician dry docks were interesting, and fun to see the Million Dinar homes along that prime waterfront (only $333,000 US dollars).

The site of the Antonine Baths was very impressive (largest Roman baths in all of Africa). Huge, well excavated, with a current dig site we got to see, too.

Tunisia is also a country without guard rails or anyone around to stop people from touching or climbing on everything. We saw several Instagram Influencers climbing atop pillars in their obligatory flowing garments. It was very cool to wander through all the different rooms.

Saw several more places of archeological and or religious or historical importance, but I didn’t take notes on their names (ha) so will have to research that later.

It was very cool, though. Including some Phoenician burial stones. And a French Cathedral from the 1800’s (which incorporated several North African decorative styles). And saw this sweet dog.

(Cat sightings are Definitely about 300 to 1 compared to dog sightings).

Then lunch overlooking the water. When we’d finished our meal, but before plates were cleared, some very smart cats wandered over. Yassine is also a cat fan, and encouraged us to give them a few pieces of the lamb still stuck to the bone on our plates. Ha.

Afternoon was spent wandering through the small alleyways of a ridiculously charming (and expensive) neighborhood. Gorgeous decorative doors and expensive cars. Lots of tourists from all over the world. Came across two different fashion shops doing photo shoots to promote their wedding clothes stores. One for Berber outfits, and one for Tunisian.

There was also some type of competitive scavenger hunt/puzzle game happening between different teams of friends around the area. Different stations set up, with a puzzle to solve or dart board, etc. Led to lots of laughter and raucous shouting around. Fun to observe, and a very clever idea: competitive combination scavenger hunt/escape room.

Then we went to the North Africa American Cemetery, where the US dead from WWII African campaigns are buried. It is the only US Military Cemetery in Africa. And it happened to be Memorial Day. Museum was closed in the morning because of the holiday. Which seemed a little strange to us. Later, talking to the on site director, it is closed to your groups on American holidays, but anyone with a US passport can still visit. In any case, it was opened again that afternoon when we arrived. Somber and lovely. Definitely more “Memorializing” than I normally do on the average Memorial Day. Extra wreaths and flags set up around. There’s a long ceremonial wall with the names of the missing carved into it.

And several of the burial crosses are for unidentified bodies. “Here rests in honored glory, a comrade in arms, known but to God”.

The director on site gave us some interesting information. There are two of the Tuskegee Airmen lost in the African campaign who are honored here as well. The plaque in the office included a large memorial coin for the Tuskegee Airmen. Michael goes in close and reads the initials on the coin. “I know her,” he says. He’s a graphic designer and has several friends who work for the US Mint. And apparently the offical coin designers get their initials put on the coins (I’d never noticed before).

Random, but I thought it was kinda cool. Learning!!

We also explored a site of ancient aqueducts.

and the Roman Amphitheatre of Carthage (where St Perpetua was killed).

All in all, it was a very nice day. A great mix of history and modern Tunisia, some delicious foods, and lots of new cat friends.

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