Tunisia: Drive or suffer?

I have been driving for quite some time.

Between my car and me is a long story made of a lot of love and friendship and a little hate. A car, hence these forgotten technical maintenance check-up, a wheel that is never changed when necessary, the fill-ups that cost you an arm and a leg, insurance, taxes, PV, fines, car clamps at 15DT, 35DT to the pound  …

Recently, driving in Tunisia anguishes me. I know that we are neither in Cairo with its chaotic traffic, nor in New Delhi where driving is playing for real, with “Video Game”, but driving in Tunis is so stressful!

Here, we do not respect the speed limits, turn restrictions, priorities, traffic signs … We  respect still less the old, the young, schoolchildren, factory outlets, ambulances, … We jump the lights, we do not respect the highwaqy code, we still do not know who has the priority around roundabouts, we do not use the indicator when turning, we honk all the time, at noon or midnight .. .We park anywhere despite stoppages and illegal parking. Well, it’s true that there is too much everywhere and illegal parking.

It is a real matter to think about why we are sold as many cars, if you can not park them anywhere.

In Tunis, everybody overtakes everybody, in any direction, right, left and even opposite. On pedestrian crossings, it is never pedestrians we have priority. On the contrary, in the view of a pedestrian, the car accelerates. On motorways, dozens of pedestrians climb the guardrails, jump barriers arise and vegetation bordering the highway to pass through in one direction or another. The avenues it is the pedestrians who ride. Incredibly undisciplined, they can not fly either. Our pavements and sidewalks are made to park cars and accommodate extensions cafes and shops.

I do not know if you have noticed how terrible the noise is ! It is common to experience the music of others, when it is not a wave of insults and bad words that struck the entourage in case of clashes. Finally, in Tunisia, you are honked at when you respect the speed limit, you are  insulted if and when you respect the traffic lights or stop at a Stop sign, it assaults you when you stop at stop signs and red lights. And hold on, sometimes on a highway, it happens that you have a car that comes facing you!

If by ill-luck, while driving, you find a car without driver that sits in the middle of the road, do not be surprised! Try to be patient and wait. The driver must just be trying to buy a phone  card a bottle of water. And do not wince and do not get upset! He , will get in his car calmly with at best a small friendly gesture, at worst, a gesture that speaks loud about his lack of civility and respect for others.


If by misfortune or luckily (depnding on the seasons) it rains. The town , the city, the country become downright impassable! Examine everything and be ready to get immersed in the hell of the road, bridges, drains, incivility, traffic jams…..

Until then, try to be patient  and have a nice journey!


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