Ali showing his wares in his smal shop in the souk

Another Day, Another Scam, aka Ali Part 2

Les Canadiens, les Canadiens! The old man calls out behind us in the Medina of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia

He finds us again

Another crowded, stuffed market à la Istanbul only not as large…but large enough to get lost: filled with mazes, narrow alleyways, crowds of people, all with similar merchandise hanging in, around, and over the small stalls. Each one looks like the other. My husband had spoken to the old man earlier about the mosque which was closed due to prayers.

You want to see the Panorama view on top? he asks.

We do. Big mistake.

shopping in the crowded Medina of Tunis
Shopping in the Medina of Tunis. The medina is organized into a number of different commercial areas called souks – eg the perfume souk, the carpet souk, and so on.

Meandering alleys

Old man leads us through a honeycomb of a maze. Am thinking I should be dropping crumbs along the way, like Hansel and Gretel. How else to find our way back should he decide to abandon us? We may have to bribe him to get us back to the beginning. Up and over, through and around, and yes, even passing into, and out of, a carpet stall he leads us. Finally, true to his word, we reach the precipice—the top—for a panoramic view of surrounding Tunis with its minarets and mosques. We marvel at the scene, take photos, explore the cemented area and all the while I’m thinking…how the hell are we going to find our way out of here?

A view of the Zaytuna mosque in Tunis from the ‘panorama’ over looking Tunis from the rooftop of the medina.

Now he motions us to follow him down. Back to the Medina entrance. I am silently relieved. My husband, I know, is prepared to tip him for his trouble. But there is no need.

Pressure to buy

Old Man leads us to his perfume oil stall where he insists we sit on stools as he delivers a lecture on the values of his merchandise including his BoomBoom oil for great sex.

Yep. It’s another scam. So we pay into the obligatory scam-release fund (not for BoomBoom but for a rose fragrance) and get out of there faster than a magic flying carpet.

Ali shows us his samples of perfume .. from the Tunisian favourite jasmine to cactus ("same as Chanel # 5", he says) and the 'boom boom' oil for men for great sex.
Ali shows us his samples of perfume .. from the Tunisian favourite jasmine to cactus (“same as Chanel # 5”, he says) and the ‘boom boom’ oil for men for great sex. We purchased pure lemon oil for relaxation – we felt obligated after his tour to the ‘panorama’ which included other stops including one to a Mederasa, school for the study of the Quran, as well as several more mosques, all located within the walls of the medina with its maze of narrow twisting streets.

When I ask his name, I should have known already. Ali. Just like the first con artist the day before…!

Read also our earlier blog Ali Part 1

Travelled  November, 2012

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *