Muhammad, my Tunisian guide for one day

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Published in World Nomads official website on 15/06/2016 on the occasion of an application for the Travel Writing Scholarship 2016.

Since I was a child I’ve always been used to travelling with my parents. I was only 8 when they brought me abroad for the first time. On the one hand the tour Eiffel and Notre-Dame, on the other hand Disneyland, authentic paradise for a child as I was. But when in 2010 my father told me that we would have gone to Djerba, in Tunisia, I immediately understood that this trip wouldn’t have been like the others. And soon I realized that I was absolutely right.

It was my first time time outside Europe. Also the first time that I was in touch with such a different culture, even though we’ve spent almost the entire week in a tourist resort. My parents had decided to have only one excursion, but organised by themselves. It was in that moment that we met Muhammad, a Tunisian cabdriver who proposed to take us on a tour of the island. We accepted it and it was one of the best choises in my life.

I remember as if it was yesterday his first reaction with his clumsy English. “Were do you come from?“, he told us. “Genoa, in Italy“, and he exclaimed: “Oh, so your favourite football team is Genoa? We love Franco Scoglio“. Died in 2005 and one of the most loved Genoa’s coaches, he brought Tunisian national team for the first time to World Cup in 1998. So we’ve started the tour on the best of terms.

The first stop-over was near a street market inside Midoun, one of the most important cities of the island. All of the fragrances and colors overwhelmed me, it was amazing. Furthermore it was my first contact with another very widespread religion: Islam. He told us that his father was an imam, the religious leader of a mosque. He seemed really open-minded and that’s way that dialogue about religion has been so inspiring.

After that we reached the salt lake, the first I have seen in my life. But the best was yet to come. In fact, Muhammad brought us to a deconsecrated mosque in which a friend of his offered us a typical tea. I was so excited to go so close it and to enjoy the architecture from inside.

I am a really passionate fan of Star Wars. That’s the reason why it has been amazing to enjoy with my eyes the real landscape in which George Lukas shot the scenes set in Tatooine planet. In the end, the last stop-over was in a typical pottery shop, in which my mother has had also the possibility to try on some traditional Tunisian dresses.

For a moment everything was clear. There is no travel or story if you can’t narrate them. So I understood that it would have been my life.

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Matteo Calautti
About Matteo Calautti 2393 Articles
Studente genovese di Scienze Internazionali e Diplomatiche, nonché "minor" di pallacanestro. Appassionato di sport in ogni sua forma e colore. Esterofilo e curioso osservatore di politica e attualità. Tra le altre, collabora anche con Londra Italia, East Journal, con la rivista di Ingegneria di Genova, con la trasmissione televisiva Dilettantissimo e con Io Gioco Pulito, l'inserto sportivo de Il Fatto Quotidiano. Infine, ha fondato anche Liguria a Spicchi, Il Calcio Portoghese e Dragoni d'Oriente, portali web dedicati rispettivamente alla pallacanestro ligure, al calcio lusitano ed al Leyton Orient.