I had just arrived in Tunis, the Tunisian capital, after a very long journey when I decided to take a quick walk to explore the area before bed. There was concert going on in a public square and the singer was so captivating that she really drew me in to listen.
A man watching the concert next to me struck up a conversation and started explaining the significance of the concert, which was part of a series that was meant to help the country heal after the Jasmine Revolution. He began telling me about what the country had gone through and the historical context that went along with it. We began slowly walking towards the medina as he talked about the buildings that lined the square. I was enthralled, I was totally drawn in out of my sheer curiosity about the country, its culture and its political situation.
It was only when we entered the dark narrow alleys of the medina that I realized I was on a private tour — a tour for which I had not negotiated a price — which meant that I was certain to pay through the nose for it. It was clearly a scam, one of the oldest in the book.
It was at that point that I made a critical decision: I’d just go with it. It was too late to escape a messy after-the-fact negotiation and I was really enjoying the tour. We visited mosques, mausoleums and madrassas.
My guide waited until we were on an empty street, with not a soul nearby, to tell me how much this tour was going to cost. His friendly expression turned serious and he replied, “No, it is NOT too much!” when I balked at his price.
I handed over the equivalent of about $75 Canadian, knowing full well that I had been very badly ripped off for my 90 minute tour. But by the next morning I had decided to learn from the experience and appreciate the fact that it was still a pretty awesome night.
In this issue of TERN, Johanna Read writes about five scams she never falls for, and one that got her, while Ross Doyle faced a critical moment as touts moved in for the kill in Delhi. Meanwhile, Leigh Taveroff found herself on the edge of a cliff in Bolivia, reevaluating every life decision she’s ever made, and Eleanor Isdale recalls the moment she met her boyfriend at a hostel in Iceland in our illustrated story.
All in all, it’s an issue about critical moments in travel — moments where we learn about ourselves, where we gauge our appetite for danger and adventure, and moments that totally change our lives.
We hope you enjoy it.