It was very easy to find transport to Sfax and then to Mahdia. We’re never next to the sea, there is always a thin strip of land home to knarled old olive trees. Mahdia medina is thriving, with colourful tourist nicknacks contrasting the whitewashed walls. I walk to fort Borj El Kebir, surrounded by graves and sitting on the site of earlier towns. Further on still is a lighthouse. The fort overlooks a Punic (Carthagenian) port cut out of the rock. A reminder I’m nearing Carthage, now a Tunis suburb.
Friday is market day on the edges of the medina, which surprises me for a muslim country. It spills out over the streets making driving a slow process and walking through with a backpack at greater than browsing pace difficult. A train to Sousse via Monastir is waiting at the station. Tunisia looks greener north of Mahdia; still majority occupied by knarled olives full of small fruit, but with grass between the widely spaced trees rather than bare earth. From Monastir it becomes all the more built up and industrial.
Trying to get to El-Haouaria on the tip of Cap Bon I’m told I must first go to Nabeul, a large seaside town. An easy dull ride across a flat landscape gets us to Nabeul by minibus in 1.5 hours. For El-Haouaria, a destination I can’t for the life of me pronounce for a lack of hard consonants, I’m directed to the bus station opposite the louage (minibus) stop.
Bendy-bus number 720, final destination El-Haouaria, leaves exactly on time. The flat blue line of the sea is a frequent point on the view. It takes 2 hours for the journey – not bad considering the distance – but I was eager to get away from the hard moulded plastic seats. I make it for 2.30. Making it for 2.30 is about all there is to do, too.