There are many places, even as a single woman, on Djerba that you can visit on your own from your hotel. I’ve walked from my hotel along the main road, where there is sidewalk in some places, but not everywhere, but it is not a problem. There are always many taxis along there as well as many horse-drawn caleches, so if you tire of walking, a ride is close at hand.
Personally, if I want to go for a nice long walk I prefer the beach, but just to explore the area, I have walked along the main road and that’s how I came upon the Djerba Golf Club. I visited the club house, had a coffee there and saw portions of the golf course. If I had visited it more extensively I would have seen the portion of the course that borders the Mediterranean, which is the most scenic part.
Here are a few photos of the Djerba Golf Course an 18-hole course which is an all-season golf club:
Along a good part of the East coast of Djerba is where most of the big hotels are located; it is called the Tourist Zone. From my hotel, I am about a five-minute walk to the Djerba Golf Club.
Where I am staying, at the Mehari Iberostar Hotel, I’m a 10 Dinar (about$4.50 Cdn.) taxi ride to go into Houmet Souk, the capital. I’m a little further away from Houmet Souk than some of the other hotels, but we’re talking a difference of a dollar or so by taxi. I visited Houmet Souk, its Medina and museum on my own and walked around quite extensively without any bother.
Now, because I’m of retirement age, I don’t get bothered by the local men as much as a younger woman would be, but honestly if they are trying to ask you out or go for a coffee, all you have to say, firmly, is that you want to be on your own and you don’t want to be bothered, they will respect that, in my experience anyway. Or just tell them your husband or boyfriend is waiting for you.
From my hotel, a taxi into Midoun, the second largest city on Djerba will set you back, at most, $2.00 Cdn. with tip. I went into Midoun to a Hammam called Bakouche, a very traditional Hammam that the locals use. The hot room and gommage (a rub down with a coarse cloth to exfoliate) cost me 10 Dinars, again about $4.50 Cdn.
It was a very busy place. The hot/steam room was quite small but boy was there a lot of activity! As each woman goes in she gets a pail that she can fill up with either hot or cold water (or a combination of both) to splash on herself as she sits and allows the steam to works its magic. There is a constant lineup to get water, so you have to be on your toes, but there is, I observed, a certain social order, where everyone waits their turn and seems to know whose turn it is to fill up your pail, which is surprising because it’s a really noisy, ruckus place.
Ladies are either steaming, washing their hair, doing their own gommage, or just sitting and relaxing. By the way, this is no place to be shy, everything is off except the lower underwear! When I finally got my gommage, I had requested that she do it gently, as I have sensitive skin and had recently taken some sun. Well, that request was pretty well ignored, and the largish masseuse went at me with a vigour that was both admirable and unnerving.
Here are some photos of the outside of the Hammam, as no photos are allowed inside for obvious reasons. There is a hair stylist on site who will also tint your eyebrows.
While in Midoun I was able to find a traditional underground oil press, called a massera, that now functions as a museum. I know that on the mainland of Tunisia, in more remote areas, these traditional oil presses still exist, and still use a camel to pull the heavy press that squeezes the oil out of the olives. Here are some photos of the massera:
Just yesterday, I visited Djerba Explore which is composed of three distinct sections: the first part was the Lalla Hadria Museum, a museum of pottery, textiles and jewellery and other artefacts, mostly from Tunisia, but there were also items from Morocco and Turkey.
One could easily spend a good part of the day here at Djerba Explore as there are also some shops and a few restaurants.
Photos of the Lalla Hadria Museum:
The second section is Djerba Heritage, which is like a folk village and demonstrates the typical life of Djerbans in a “Al Menzel”, where extended families lived together. Today, there aren’t many of these traditional Menzels still in existence on Djerba.
Within the confines of the Menzel, each family had its own living quarters and cooking area, but there were other areas to crush grain, weave, make pottery, store olive oil, etc. There would be many small courtyards outside the living quarters which I found particularly enchanting. These would be the equivalent of our summer decks or patios.
Photos of Djerba Heritage, or the Al Menzel:
The third section of this complex was the crocodile park. Quite an interesting combination with this last addition!
I met an employee of the crocodile park, Manwar, who was very informative about the life of the crocodile, so it was actually fascinating to learn a great deal about these reptiles. One thing that is particularly interesting is that they go back to the time of the dinosaurs and have changed very little from that time.
The crocodiles at this time of year are more or less in hibernation because it is winter on Djerba, thus they are very inactive.
I was very happy to see a lot of protective fencing between the crocodiles and visitors, as another thing I learned about the crocodiles is that although they look very inactive, if you were to fall into their space, they are all of a sudden very quick and protective of their territory so you wouldn’t have a hope in hell! Photos of the crocodile park: