Visual Gems in El Jem and Djerba: May 2024


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Next we were off to visit El Jem. I hadn’t done any research about this ahead of time, so it was a real surprise. The bonus of a tour is that someone else is in charge of the itinerary ahead of time. And it also meant I didn’t want to do too much research in case I found things I desperately wanted to see that wouldn’t be included. While i’d researched some of it, some has been new discoveries. El Jem provided a Truly impressive and huge Roman Amphitheatre (the third largest in the world!!!).

We got to explore all over,

including the cells underneath,

and climbing all the way up to the third floor.

“This is some real Indiana Jones shit,” says Michael. Ha. Not quite my pop culture take on it (definitely leaning more towards all the Swords and Sandals movies), but the “is this real or a movie?” quality sure rang true.

i also always absolutely love the juxtaposition of such ancient ruins with a modern city built up all around it.

We then toured a 2nd century Roman villa. With more super cool mosaics (including this of Dionysus riding a lion… instead of his more typical donkey).

And more fun with statues!

Yassine has asked us if we wanted to eat lunch at the hotel (boo) or wanted something different (yes please!). Stopped at this amazing roadside place, where they are serious about grilling meats. You’ve got to call in your order ahead of time, and it’s cooked in this giant underground ovens. Here they are using the electrical winch to pull up the meats!

Very very delicious lamb and chicken. Delicious thick soft rounds of Berber bread, to scoop up the grilled veggies and obligatory harissa hot sauce. Place was full of local families and had great vibes. No interior decoration. Bare bones tables and chairs (but clean). Arthur was a bit worried and out of his comfort zone, But ended up enjoying it too. Now sated, we continued our drive to the ferry docks for Djerba Island. Where we found lovely blue waters and the cutest tiny ferry (holds maybe 20 cars).

Djerba Island is lovely. And in recent years, has had an international wall mural project.

So wandering through town is extra beautiful,

finding all this fantastic art everywhere.

As we wander down one alleyway, we hear the maniacal laughter of children and I look up. On the balcony above us are two middle school aged girls, dangling a water balloon over the edge, and gleefully giggling with their whole bodies. We appropriately cower and surrender and beg for mercy. They wave us through.

Later we hear more laughter pealing down the alley, and we know they’ve found a new potential victim. We spend the night at delightful guest house Dar Dhafia. And they have a pool!!

It is tiny. And adorable. And I’m excited about it. We totally spend an hour floating and swimming before dinner (Sarah and Michael joining us, but staying in the chairs/dry side of things). We all opt for a lighter dinner, after the grilled meat feast at lunch, and then it’s time for bed. Wonderful day.

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