That day we woke up in Paris at 3 am, after present the show the night before. At 4:30 am we were walked to the bus station in which we travel to the tram that took us to the airport. We climb stairs, elevators, weigh the bags, we check-in, passed security checks, waiting room, took a bus that took us to the plane, flew for three hours, ate, landed on another continent, did migrations, we look for the bags on the tape, passed customs and arrived at the hall of an empty airport, since for security reasons is not allowed to stay anyone other than a passengers. Passing the exit door and under a bright midday sun, across the street were all people who were waiting for their friends or family. Among the crowd of people appeared Ines from the International Festival of Theatre for Children, who came to pick up us. We got into a van and started traveling into the city. In the avenues signs were written in a language and alphabet we did not understand, they way of drive make us to remind of the days traveling through Central America, in the city center people were walking in the streets in between the cars, some women were veiled, some men wore robes. The van parked on the sidewalk and we down the luggage in the theater, this was the “Mahareva vi fis Tunis” the welcome to Tunisia and the arrival of Mandragora Circo to the Arab world and Africa.
We participated in the children´s theater festivals of Tunis and Nabeul. The show was presented in many theaters, all for 400, 500 or 700 people, always full. The children came with their parents to the theater but they seat alone at the front rows, while adults sat back. At the end of the show we did in Tunis, everyone started to sing, Bravo, Bravo, Bravo …
At the end festivals went to the Sahara desert. To travel we went in Tunis to the terminal of “Louages” a place where are a lot of small buses, vans, traveling to different parts of the country. The vans have capacity for 12 people and leave when full.
All signs announcing the destinations are written in Arabic and most drivers speak only Arabic or French. After to much asking we got a van to go to Douz. But once we sat down to wait the van to fills begin to doubt that combi went to town we wanted to go. After a while waiting another passenger came, Oumayna, and she explained to us that indeed this van was not going to Douz, but stop nearby in Kebeli, a town an hour away where we would have to take another van to get our destination.
While we were waiting for the van fills it was getting late and we realized it would be no longer to get there in time to take another van, because it would be night and they stop working, so we need to think what to do when reach Kebeli. During the trip, Oumayna, the driver and the other passengers every so often talked and we realized that it was upon us, though we did not understand they were saying, but all passengers felt. Even Oumayna spoke English, she did only when we were alone with us.
Finally after 8 hours of traveling we arrived at kebeli, it was late in the night and Oumayna, speaking english in front of all, told us that as that because there were no van to continue to Douz we had two options, one go to sleep at the house of the driver and the other one go to sleep at her home with her family. We found very good as throughout the trip they were solving our destiny and choose to go with Oumayna to her home.
It was night and the driver took us through a neighborhood, on dirt roads in a totally unfamiliar place. Suddenly we were living with an Arab family, upon arrival were welcome by the mother, sister and grandmother, they were all in one room, sitting on the floor with cushions and carpets. Right there we ate and chatted a bit in French and English trying to understand one each other.
They prepared a room for us to sleep and the next morning we returned for breakfast in the same room the day before. We went walking and Oumayna escorted us to the town square where we take the van to Douz, she spoke with the driver, told him where we had to go and fix the price so he not charge us more.
Once in Douz we prepare for the trip to the desert. We got on camels and traveled between sand dunes to get to a camp in the middle of the Sahara where we watched the sunset and spend the night sleeping in a tent with a fire, mint tea, music with derbake. We woke up to see the sunrise among the dunes, breakfast and travel by camel back to the town.
Returning to the north stopped at El Jem a small town where there is an amphitheater almost as large as the Roman Coliseum.
On the north coast we went to La Marsa, the white and blue city.
Although we had only come to Tunisia to participate in two theater festivals we ended up spending three months in the country. The day we arrived the Argentina Embassy in Tunisia received an email from the Argentina Embassy in Paris, where we have performed that last night, where they warned of our trip and recommended the show, we did not know anything about that. The Ambassador, Sebastian Zavala, came to see our show in Tunis and put us in contact with a school in Bizerte, a town one hour north of Tunis, to present the show there.
In the school of Bizerte we find three nuns, the Mother Genezareth and the sisters Misericordia and Fatima who received us to do two shows for almost a thousand children studying in the school. We made the shows in the schoolyard. The sisters liked the idea of bringing joy to children and invited us to do more presentations in other schools in the towns of Menzel Burghiba and Manouba.
We spent the days living at school in Bizerte, sharing good talks and a lot of laughs with the sisters, who already had many years living in Arab countries and told us many of his experiences in Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Israel and now in Tunisia, for us it was a great learning experience to know these stories.
Ines, from the theater festival recommended places to present the show, and we presented Mandragora Circus in Carthage and Ariana and in a recently opened theater in Bizerte. Almost without realizing we spent three months living in Tunisia and was time to continue this tour that don´t stop to surprises us.