As with every journey, this one began with a small step. From the Gull Bus to Melbourne Airport (MEL) I boarded a flight to Dubai (DXB) – and rested peacefully on the plane. DXB was beautiful – and there was even a miniature lake in the middle of the airport. The Emirates food was superb, and I got to catch up on some movies to while away the time.
‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen‘ was an appropriate choice given the corner of the world I was headed to. Expecting a soppy romantic comedy (and somewhat – pardon the pun – disheartened – at this prospect), instead this bittersweet and at times hilarious movie examines the dissatisfaction of the main character with his mundane academic life and loveless marriage, and follows his journey as his passion for life – and for fishing – is reignited through an unlikely project.
The characters in ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘ also follow a journey; most of them reaching their senior years, various reasons lead them to be staying at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. For some it is the end of the journey of life, but for others their time there opens new doors, and gives them renewed vigour.
Margaret Thatcher follows a journey of a different kind in ‘Iron Lady‘; Meryl Streep’s performance of this one-imperious and internationally formidable woman in late stage dementia conversing with her long-dead husband is one of the best biopics of recent years. The story portrays her progression from grocer’s daughter, breaking with convention to win a safe Conservative seat, and successfully challenging for the leadership of the British Conservative party. The poignancy comes as her strong will, refusal to be swayed from her fiercely held convictions and self-belief eventually lead to her betrayal by her cabinet. Iron eventually rusts.
In Dubai, there was a four-hour layover before the connecting flight to Tunis; I used the time to get re-acquainted with parted to repartition an SD card that had previously been used for Raspberry Pi goodnes, but was now my spare camera card. After much referral to the man pages, I eventually managed to partition the card and create a new filesystem. Win.
Arriving in Tunis, I was taken aback at customs; carrying foodstuffs I chose to declare and the customs officials as good as laughed at me. “We love food!” they exclaimed. We Aussies must be so used to not bringing anything back into the country!
From Tunis it was an hour’s drive to Hammamet, the tourist resort south of Tunis. The contrasts here couldn’t be sharper; in the space of 100km you see desert, mountain region, and flowers planted by the roadside in rich bloom. The traffic is best described as ‘batshit crazy’; he who honks the loudest has right of way. Tunisia appears to be a country torn between two ages; an historic past echoed in the clay-walled, open-roofed houses and at the same time looking towards the future with the development of tourist centres such as Yasmine Hammamet.