“Los que quieran viajar allí, que lo piensen mejor”

Seasoned and responsible traveler, with the credit and guarantee of knowing 100 countriesNéstor Givré, a 65-year-old psychoanalyst from Buenos Aires, had long been kept awake by the geography, society and culture of Tunisiacountry located in North Africa, between Libya and Algeria. “I am very curious about what is new, about what is different, and going from here to there is the closest thing to feeling freedom, something that I began to understand when at the age of 17 I had my baptism in the Amazon“.

With the authority that experience as a traveler gives him, Givré had already been to other African countries, even poorer and in less touristy roles, such as Cape Verde, Namibia, Guinea Bisau, Ethiopia and Senegal, among others. “Tunisia, then, was a pending subject but not random or capricious, I do not travel by volley. I investigate, I dive into the internet, I get into thematic forums, in addition to taking suggestions from friends who recommended the beaches and deserts in the south of that place.

The trip to Tunisia was via Palermo, Italy, between June 18 and 27. She arrived by boat and prior to boarding the first shock appeared, as if it were an invisible signal, the first. “Do you have a hotel reservation for the entire stay? Only for the first two days, I replied. ‘Then you can’t travel’They answered me, so in an urgent and distressing way, I had to book a place that later allowed me to cancel without having to pay. He had to have the voucher to show that he had lodging “.

At the beginning of the trip, in Palermo, when everything was smiles and enthusiasm. In the background, the Mediterranean Sea.

After twelve hours sailing through paradisiacal waters, Givré reached the city of Tunis, the capital. Fifty Tunisians, two Germans and himself got off the ship. “Something happened, I didn’t know why, but they wouldn’t let me enter the country.”‘You wait’, they told me. I was waiting three hours without understanding. I have an Argentine passport and one from the European community, which I decided to use for this trip. From the outset I noticed a certain hostility from the policeuntil a uniformed woman came up to me and asked how much cash I had. ‘Get him out,’ she ordered her.”

Givré speaks English and also French, a language that due to its past could be everyday in Tunisia, “but there is no will to speak it.” Other port police officers appeared who spoke to the Argentine loudly and in Arabic, but this lady did so in French. ‘Do I get the money here? In the middle of all the people?’ I asked surprised. I insist, it had never happened to me on so many previous trips. I took out what cash I had, because I knew from what I had found out that they do not accept credit or debit, excusing that the posnet does not work, in addition to the fact that I am a cardiac patient And you never know what can happen.”

In a precarious room in the port, the psychoanalyst unfolded some 2,000 euros and 1,500 dollars, which he was carrying for a two-week trip. “After three hours of a tense and unclear situation, I was able to enter Tunisian soil after midnight. In the afternoon, he had a scheduled flight to Tozeur, in the south of the country, at 2:00 p.m., which was rescheduled at 6:00 p.m. without prior notice. When I managed to make a complaint for not having received notification of the delay, Tunisair airlines replied: “No, we do not send emails. welcome to tunisia“.

To abuse... good face.  Here in El Djem, home to some of the most impressive Roman remains in Africa.

To abuse… good face. Here in El Djem, home to some of the most impressive Roman remains in Africa.

The truth is that it did not take off at 6:00 p.m. either, but only flew at 11:00 p.m. Once in Tozeur, with the inconvenience of arriving at an unknown place at one in the morning the next day, instead of at planned, Givré protested respectfully again, but was stunned. “Sir, here in Tunisia we don’t go by the rules,” they vomited him up in listless French. Once at the hotel, talking to the receptionist, the Argentine was “drawn” by the irruption of Tunisians “who in the queue, behind me, imposed themselves due to the arrogance of their language.”

In his office in the Belgrano neighborhood, Givré talks with Clarion serene, still not digesting everything lived, and trying to put in context in order to explain the place where he had arrived with great enthusiasm. “I noticed bad manners, run over the tourist, lack of logic and common sense… I was supposed to be moving around tourist places, but the only tourist was always me. From my experience I enjoy being with the locals, getting to know their ways , its development, something more attractive to me than being surrounded by foreigners”.

Without roaming “who knows why”, the Argentine traveled alone, without his wife, and felt vulnerable, a symptom never experienced before. “I went to see Djerba, a very beautiful island, and I found out that I could share the taxi, because in Tunisia there is no public transport, not even in the capital. I got into a shared taxi with other Tunisians and the driver abruptly dropped me off just because I was a tourist. I began to see Tunisia aggressive, uninteresting and I felt uncomfortable… It started to spin around in my head to anticipate the returnsomething that hadn’t happened to me in the previous 100 countries.

"I had never gone beyond feeling so much hostility towards tourists, that's why I decided to bring forward the return"expresses Nestor Givré.

“I had never gone beyond feeling so much hostility towards tourists, that’s why I decided to bring forward the return,” says Néstor Givré.

That thought became a reality and the planned return by boat for June 30 was brought forward to June 27, but by plane, without imagining that he would live a situation that transported him to the well-known scenes of the movie “Midnight Express”which takes place in Turkey. “Everything was on track, I had the boarding-pass, I passed immigration and, when I had set my sights on the free shop, two customs policemen came towards me and asked me how much money I had on me. Again the same situation as when I entered. I tried to explain myself in French, but they spoke to me in Arabic“.

Givré showed them 1,850 euros and 1,000 dollars with some discomfort, but with the peace of mind that he had not committed any irregularity. “There began a two-hour horror movie, in which the policemen took me to a basementThey walked me from office to office, shouting and in Arabic, I didn’t understand a word, nor did I understand what was happening to me. In that wandering, I tried to think what infraction I could have committed, but I did not understand, although my lucidity to think was battered“.

One of the minutes, written in Arabic, that Néstor Givré had to sign giving his consent.

One of the minutes, written in Arabic, that Néstor Givré had to sign giving his consent.

Suddenly he met a supposed superior, a colonel, who did not allow him to communicate with the Argentine embassy. “I desperately wanted to understand, I spoke in French, but on the other side I only received mistreatment and words in Arabic. I worried about my health and my situation… I was in a place in the airport that no tourist has access tosurrounded by five policemen. Anything could have happened, in a frame like that they appear to you many ghosts; later I found out that there were missing tourists…”.

Givré’s head was a cluster of accelerated images. She tried to be calm, but she couldn’t stop thinking about her suitcases, which were abandoned in a corridor and about the flight that she could miss. “That’s his problem,” they responded in French when he managed to say that the plane was about to take off. “At one point I felt defeated, I was realizing that this was going to take a long time, that I didn’t have my money, my passport or my bags and that I had missed the flight. She was in a situation of total abandonment, she only thought about leaving Tunisia in any way”.

"I only suggest that Argentines who are planning to travel to Tunisia think twice"advises Néstor Givré.

“I only suggest that Argentines who are planning to travel to Tunisia think better of it,” advises Néstor Givré.

Until “one goes to know what happened”, a ray of light appeared and Givré was returned the passport “with a mark”, he was able to recover his luggage and only half of the money. “The flight to Palermo, from where I had my connection to Buenos Aires, I had missed.” When he came out of that hell, he communicated with the Argentine ambassador José María Arbilla. “I want to highlight the containment and human treatment that I received from him. There he explained to me that for just a month, there is a new rule that prohibits leaving Tunisia with more than 1,500 dollars, and that there are already 5 Argentines who experienced similar constraints“.

Troubled, Givré never found out about the new rule. “I am very picky about those things, imagine that as a psychoanalyst, the first thing that came to mind was a great feeling of guilt. ‘Why did I come to Tunisia? What a fool, how am I going to get my money and show it to him? What if I had hidden it?’ Also I thought about taking out the phone and filming them, but luckily I regretted it. So a lot of situations appeared to me, I felt guilty and responsible, but of course, I had no idea about this provision, “he said.

Without a flight, he inquired about the next one, on Thursday, June 30, but there was no availability, so, desperate, he resumed the original plan of returning by ship and got the ticket he had canceled. “I arrived at the port on time, the ship sailed at 9:00 p.m. When I presented my passport, the authorities warn that it has a mark, the one they had made on me at the airportand again they begin to speak to me in unrestrained terms. They took me about five hundred meters and I felt that I had no constitutional rights.”

Without internet at the airport, Givré managed to give a drowning slap. “I asked a very supportive Italian man for his phone number and I called the ambassador, who immediately came to the port with the consul. To all of this, I had already signed some declarations written in Arabic and my signature said ‘I don’t understand’. I think that Seeing Ambassador Arbilla was one of the things that gave me the most happiness in recent years. But at the same time I felt like I was missing the boat, and it was after nine at night…”.

Among so much unease and bitterness, a good one on the horizon for Givré. “I don’t know why, but the ship was delayed for three hours and I was able to get on board and leave that place that I don’t plan to return to. And to the Argentines who are thinking of traveling there, I only allow myself to tell them to think about it, or that they at least know all this so that they do not go through something similar. Perhaps I was too unlucky, but when I arrived in Argentina I was able to find out other things about Tunisia, such as the fact that its president closed Congress, a symptom.”

Finally he embarked, was able to sleep in his cabin, arrived in Palermo and a week ago landed “happy” in Argentina. “To the ‘uncomfortable’ destinations I travel alone, I am used to this type of exotic adventures, gas stations, I am cautious and predictableIt would never occur to me to go to North Korea or places where there are guerrillas. I never imagined what I experienced. And although it left me with consequences, in September I will visit Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the Baltic countries. As we say in psychoanalysis, I am a practitioner of epistemophilia, a drive for knowing and knowing”.