Monday, August 08, 2005

Big Trouble in Little Tunisia, Part Deux

...So after the traffic cop pointed us back in the direction from which we had just come, we became immensely confused and frustrated? How could we have missed a Roman amphitheater? There was something wrong with this picture. We retraced our steps along the forest to the sign which we had previously come across. After taking a good long look at the sign, which actually pointed at a 70 degree angle (technically into the adjacent forest) and not exactly along the perpendicular road, Adam said, "Okay. We are going 20 feet into the forest, and if we don't find it, we are turning around and walking home."

The prospect of walking all the way back to Salammbo with nothing to show for our efforts but sore feet and a story about sheep was not particularly appealing to either Tom or me, so we headed into the forest after Adam. After a few yards, we came upon a gravel road and soon thereafter a few cops sitting by their vehicle. As it was my turn to do the talking, I approached the men to ask if there was an uod concert and/or an amphitheater nearby (in Arabic and a little English). After some serious lack of understanding, one of the men said the Arabic equivalent of "Please, go ahead," and gestured in the direction of the clearing behind him.

As I peered around the cop car, an expansive mass of ruins in a long oval located in a deep depression in the ground stretched out in the dark before me. Adam and I tracked down Tom, who had started to walk ahead, and the three of us descended down a steep slope into the ruins. There was certainly no concert here. There wasn't even a light besides the flicker of the nearby buildings through the trees. Luckily it was a clear night and the moon illuminated the ground around us relatively well. We hopped up onto a ledge overlooking the dark arena, and Adam said something along the lines of: "They must have meant the other Roman theater."

So, our options were these: stay and explore the ruins in the dark or begin walking towards the other theater. By this point it was already about 10 o'clock, so we decided to stay and see what there was to see of this amphitheater, and the decision was a good one. Tom illuminated the various tunnels and rooms with the flash of his digital camera, while Adam discovered a key light on the end of Nora's cell phone. With these two devices, we thoroughly explored the various shafts and crevices of the site. It was definitely reminiscent of the Colosseum at El-Jem in that one could tell where they kept the animals and prisoners before releasing them into the arena, and one could imagine the crowds sitting up in the stands, peering down from all sides at the "entertainment" taking place below them (although this particular amphitheater was not quite as large and imposing as the Colosseum). At one point we ventured down this completely pitch black "creepy tunnel" (as Tom called it) and narrowly avoided one of the largest spiderwebs I have ever seen in my life!

After we explored the area to our satisfaction, we headed back toward home. The walk back was a mere 25 minutes, and we stopped on the way to buy big bottles of water, Orangina and Pineapple juice. As Adam is never one for taking the same road twice, we took a different path back, mostly through residential neighborhoods. Although we weren't bothered at all, we were definitely stared at. Adam made a interested comparison: "Picture three Japanese businessmen in suits walking along the area near the bottom of East Rock in New Haven carrying big bottles of juice," he said. "That is how strange we must look to these people." I think he was probably spot on. When we finally returned to the apartment, Nora was waiting in her pajamas. Her dinner had run late, and she and Frank never made it to the show.

"How was the concert?" she asked smiling. Where to begin...


Blogger Karim2k said...

You'll have to get a guide next time :)

8:56 AM  

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