Bloggers in Sidi Bou Said, from left. right Alberto (Nation in Network), Avistu (Viajablog), Alberto (Photonazos), Alegría (The First Step), Carmen (Daily of the Traveler)
If you want to travel to Tunisia it is very likely that this is not the most suitable article for you because does not speak of the country as a destination. If you want to know what a blog trip is, I don't recommend it either because the supposed blog trip to Tunisia was not such. But if you want to know my personal opinion - which may or may not coincide with that of the rest of bloggers who traveled with me - about the strange organizational circumstances that surrounded and lived during the trip to Tunisia a few days ago, read on. I assure you that there are surprises that include a casting, a movie and a bus in which I spent almost more hours than in my room, so I recommend you read the post until the end.
For those who think that when you are invited to a trip blog you only tell how beautiful and everything is dyed pink, here is an article that will show you that nor is everything that glitters gold or you shut up bad experiences.
News of the collapse of Tourism in Tunisia in a Madrid newspaper
In Viajablog we received at the beginning of June and from the Social Media company the invitation to participate in a blog trip, a trip from Bloggers to Tunisia, with a fairly complete agenda and that included monuments, attractions, activities and cities that I did not know so I gladly accepted (of the four editors I was the only one with availability and flexibility of dates) with scheduled departure for June 27 and return Monday, July 4.
Given that Tunisia had been in the front pages of the newspapers until a few weeks ago by a popular revolution that overthrew a de facto dictator, it seemed interesting to me to travel through the "New Tunisia". Almost at the last minute, four days after leaving, we finally received the agenda sent to us by the organizing company, Draft FCB, and I started to see the first strange things.
None of the two emails sent indicated who we were going to, who would be the travel companions during the seven days and what blogs they would represent, something that had never happened to me before. On top of that, I had asked for a change of dates on the plane ticket to stay a couple more days in Tunisia at the end of the blogtrip and travel and visit on my own and independently the streets of the city and chat with its people in a less programmed environment. Of course I would run out of my pocket the expenses of accommodation visits, maintenance, etc.
That seemingly reasonable request from someone accustomed to traveling on their own and forming their own opinions, I was denied at the time and my surprise was capitalized when I saw that the two sponsors were the Tunisian Tourist Office and the Tunisian airline, Tunisair, couldn't the airline itself that issued the tickets change dates?
More surprises in the glove compartment. The email from the Barcelona agency that organized the trip indicated a hashtag (# 7days to exchange) for Twitter and a website (www.7diasparacambiar.com). When I checked who used the hashtag I didn't recognize any travel blog but there were audiovisual producers and cool hunters. When visiting the website, the content prevailed because of its absence and was almost completely under construction. Not only that, the trip blog was no longer such but it was mentioned on the cover:
Through 50 people we will change the perception of a country
50 persons? That doesn't have any blog trip for me, it seems more like an organized trip as a tour package. The secondary idea of the trip, according to the website, was to shoot a documentary whose protagonists would be half a hundred victims, who had to leave Tunisia when the revolts broke out or who could not visit the country for the same reason. Within the secrecy that surrounded professional travelers (bloggers), the idea was interesting a priori although precisely the section "Bloggers" did not show anyone and was under construction.
In the end it was not until Monday afternoon, in front of the counter 250 of the T1 of Barajas (although we had previously “discovered” on Twitter), when it was confirmed who were going to be the other bloggers that departed on the flight from Madrid : Carmen (by Diario del Viajero), Alegría (by El Primer Paso), Alberto (by Fotonazos) and another Alberto (by Nación en Red). Another plane had left Barcelona that morning but we didn't know, for a change, who was on board.
Tunis Airport, two buses were filled with the participants in the trip
The arrival at the Tunis airport was as chaotic as expected when we talked about a group of 50 people and we started to see the cameras of the filming team in action. That was one of the two constants during the 7 days, which each and every one of the activities will be subject to the needs of the team that was going to film at 50 victims. If for example they needed to record a couple traveling through a salt desert, they waited for the rest to visit, the guides would call them back to the cars and then, while the others bit the minutes in our seats, they deployed their equipment and could roll without background people.
The other feature of the trip was the endless waiting on the bus for the inability to ensure that everyone, travelers and professionals, were at the agreed time in their seat. The first day of activities we accumulate two hours of delays in the form of waiting in a stopped bus Without knowing who was missing. A few days later, in Tozeur, at 05:30 a.m. we woke up because at 06:30 a bus left ... but it was not until 07:30 that we started, again because "someone" was missing. If we add all the 7-day delays, we would have left enough time for an 8th day of travel in which to see more things.
In fact, in the first agenda (of agreement, provisional) that we received appeared visits that were not made (Carthage, National Museum of the Bard, Medina of Tunis and city center ...) and that they could have been done if things had been organized differently. I remember with special sadness the races around the Medina of Sfax, an authentic traditional market and nothing touristy in which everyone was delighted because it reflected the day-to-day life of the Tunisian shopping, while for charmless or more popular medinas there were plenty of minutes
Table reserved for victims (<>)
Were the victims enjoying the trip? To answer that you have to do it in Galician mode with a question, How many victims were on this trip?. I know that I have written 50 people before but, and here comes the surprise, I could only identify three people, of the almost twenty I talked to - who were not organization, production or professional guests - who really had been in Tunisia at the outbreak of the revolution. If we do a simple extrapolation, then Who were the rest of the travelers?
Actors. Some professionals, who make a living with that job, and normal people the rest who attended a casting, advised by friends and family. Looking good before the camera was thus rewarded with a trip to Tunisia although I do not know that any of them (nor I for granted) had signed any document to assign the image rights. I learned about this on the bus parked at the airport, on the first of the many waiting times of the trip, and that led to an article whose draft was prepared for publication, was parked sine die for being full of mistakes (since it was based on a information that did not correspond to reality).
On our visit to Douz where we could go through the soft camel and buggy dunes and suffer the coca cola scam, we changed our two buses for a fortnight of all land for that afternoon and the next day. The next day in them We leave our backpacks to proceed to visit the Medina of Tozeur. Bad idea. At the agreed time when we went to look for the cars, ours (in which we were the family that became the five bloggers that left Madrid) had disappeared and with it our backpacks that contained the laptops among other things.
Apparently someone had climbed into a car that was not his, not caring in the least and had gone to the hotel. We ended up in another all-terrain of those that were left and went to the hotel to see if our backpacks were there, but we didn't find them. When one of the guides asked me if I remembered the license plate of the car I was stunned. There were 15 cars, 15 drivers and a single agency that managed them all How difficult was it to make a call to the office and to locate the car with the backpacks? Apparently yes, because in total there were 6 hours we were without seeing them, without knowing if someone had sat or stepped on the ones that contained the laptops or if the car was parked in the sun (which, obviously, is recommended by Apple for good care of your products).
That same afternoon all the cars were identified with a sign and a number.
On Sunday, the last full day of the trip (it was flown back on Monday), we spent it in Hammamet, in an area of hotels and beach. While for the travelers it was their day off, we bloggers planned at 5 p.m. a meeting on a ship with Tunisian bloggers to talk about the revolution in your country. The five-and friends-we decided to spend the morning by taxi to the authentic traditional Hammamet Medina, which is 12 kilometers from the hotel zone and the Medina / Shopping Center. But we had to change our plans because last night they told us that the meeting would be at 2 in the afternoon. And even we didn't know who we were going to interviewWe did not have any information about them and it would not be until mid-morning Sunday when a handwritten list began to be distributed ... and we all started searching the Internet for some information so as not to blindly interview.
The techno pirate ship in Hammamet and a crowd trying to board it
Someone came up with the idea that the meeting would take place aboard a ship, Playmobil pirate galleon style moored in the marina, about ten minutes walking under the inclement sun. The problem is that this ship, which sails from the port and makes a tour with full techno music, was packed with Tunisian and foreign tourists. After a while squeezed under cover, contraorder was given and we returned to the hotel where an alternative was managed. At that point, the only thing that prevented me from abandoning that cricket cage was to consider it to have been a disrespect for Tunisians They came to talk about their experience and answer our questions. And I'm glad I stayed because the conversation with those men and women was the most authentic of the trip.
The last morning we hurried to visit the typical town - expression that causes me repelús when I see it in a booklet - of Sidi Bou Said that became decorated for more photos and shootings while only those who dared to separate from the group (if their presence was not necessary to pose in front of a door blue) they had enough time to walk him. As inexplicably the check out was done at the late hour of 10 am, after pass by CarthageBecause Sidi Bou Said was the priority for that morning, we ended up enjoying our last meal in Tunisia in a cafeteria in the boarding area.
Recording the documentary in Sidi Bou Said
Taking off from the Tunis airport, one is left with the sensation of having been rather an excuse, a figure for the filming of a film, which invited to promote a destination that, I insist, is most recommended. As a blogger and as a traveler, I cannot stop asking myself a question aloud, for a country with the tourist attractions that Tunisia offers, was it really necessary to make up a reality in this way? Either a documentary is filmed or a Blog Trip is organized But mixing the two concepts is a sure recipe to hinder the work and unsettle who we go to, without charging a single euro, with the illusion of honestly communicating our experiences to the readers.0.000