Tunisia is an interesting country and lots of sights to see including the site of the Olympics which were held in the sixties. There were huge swimming pools full of green nasty algae water and over grown arenas and tracks where the games were played. I couldn’t help but wonder why we wasted our tax dollars on these people who didn’t value the same things we consider as normal life in America.
One weekend myself and another Marine (L/Cpl Gregory who said he grew up in Harlem), decided to camp out for the weekend along the Mediterranean sea port of Bizerte.
It’s known for its exports of cork, and a Tourist haven and a quite small beach. There really isn’t much of a shoreline except for huge stone boulders that line the shore at one end of the town and concrete pill box bunkers from the Germans occupation in ww-2. We couldn’t help but climb and explore the area as the sun went down. We decided to sleep on the rocks until morning.
Although it was uncomfortable we made it through the night as the waves bashed against the rocks around us. It truly was a dangerous area if you didn’t know what you were doing. Then the sun began to rise and we continued our exploration which to our surprise we realized that we had just camped out at the fence line of a military base.
Both of us were dressed in Marine Corps Green fatigues and carried an ammo box. I told L/cpl. Gregory not to look at the base and keep walking down the road to the beach. We both sat down and waited. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw an entourage of people being lead by a large woman with a determined look in her eye. As she approached us I reminded Gregory that we were probably in trouble and not to say a word.
Then they stopped in front of us and she demanded in perfect English to have us open the ammo box to which I complied. Inside I had peanut butter sandwiches, a tape deck and a cheep instamatic Kodak camera. Then she wanted to hear what was on the tape. I pushed the button and music played.
We were interrogated for about an hour and convinced them we were not spies for the U.S. government but rather two young naïve guys taking in some sights. We were told that before the sun went down we had to be out of town. We went into town and placed a call back to the Embassy and they sent a driver right away to pick us up. We had sat on a bench all day waiting and got fried in the sun in the process.
This was a case of a true misunderstanding, perception, assumption and ignorance all mixed into what could have resulted in a nasty international incident even though ignorance was no excuse of the law.