My family had a wonderful two week holiday in Tunisia a little over two years ago. We stayed in the town of Hammamet which has now suffered considerable damage, according to the TV pictures. The heavy police presense when we stayed was undeniable but I did not find the atmosphere so oppressive as I had in Syria or the old USSR. That said, we knew it was a dictatorship and Ben Ali's potrait was everywhere to ensure we never forget it.
At one point we were pulled over at a road block. My wife was driving but had left her driver's licence at the villa. This left both the policeman and us in a position of some embarressment. He wasn't supposed to hassle tourists and we weren't suppose to drive without carrying a licence. The conversation skated around this problem for a while. Eventually, I asked if there was a fine for driving without a licence. The policeman considered this carefully. "Twenty Euros," he said. We handed over the cash and drove back to the villa. It was only a bit later that we realised that the transaction between ourselves and the policeman probably wasn't entirely legitimate. But from that moment on, we never went anywhere without a driver's licence.
We still have fond memories of the country and its superlative museum. I hope that the revolution leaves the Tunisians freer and with the potential to become richer.
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