One can buy alcohol at tourist hotels/restaurants at tourists’ prices or you can buy beer in the hidden beer halls full of smoke men and high decibel chatter (subject to prayer time). Opening hours and prayer times were somehow linked, like planets in opposite orbs—but it was hard to divine. One does need a bit of tibble in the room (not appropriate to drink in public or even in the common areas in a hotel) to assist in planning for the next day—one needs to find the seller of alcohol. I found the elusive location that my travelling companion failed to see. They are easy to miss. You have to know or you have to be tenacious. The alcohol is usually sold in a major grocery store in town. Alcohol is not sold in the store, but in a back alley behind the store. Generally, it is a narrow squalid alley, walls covered in graffiti, the ground littered with plastic, paper, and rotten vegetables thrown out into alleys from grocery stores. Broken glass, ruble and then the sure sign, the gathering of half a dozen of men aiming towards an undesirable rusting blue metal door. There is angst here. The men have that “I hope my mother in law does not see me look”. Inside the blue door, you find a caged wicket barely large enough to squeeze a six-pack through. A single metal bar cemented in place tries to maintain the queue which clearly usually fails. There is a panic as if one is buying the last seats on the Ark. Overhead a single bulb offers weak light. This is man’s work. I have never seen a woman venture behind the blue door. I ask the men behind the counter to bring the bottles to the counter and pass them through the narrow opening so I can read the labels. As if, there is truth in Tunisian alcohol labeling. If there were a wine label, it would look as if someone had just bit into a sour crab apple. The worst label was a bottle of “Scotch Whisky” which had an element from every major brand of Scotch Whiskey on the label. The men behind are muttering. Not that I can understand Arabic, but it would be something like “lady, the ark is sailing, get on with it. Oh well, all eventually will be found, something will be purchased and the pattern will be repeated in the next town in another alley.
About the Author: mdrews
Marilyn Drews is a spirited bolder woman who has traveled to over 80 countries and is still counting down. Take a look at the list on my website. http://spiritedbolderwomen.com/ I invite your comments and suggestions.