International News in My Backyard
The Tunisian police are holding a sit-in today to protest all the police stations that were burned during the revolution, and make sure the 23 police officers on trial for killing demonstrators during the weeks leading up to President Ali’s exit get a fair trial. They’re considering a general strike if the sit-in fails to produce the results they want. Ben Ali’s power base was largely drawn from the police force, and so the police now feel that they’ve been unfairly blamed for the violence during the protests in January.
Unfortunately, the past few weeks in Tunisia have seen a foiled bombing plot by Qaddafi, and fighting and deaths due to rioting and tribal conflict in the south, as well as a rash of muggings and car break-ins in our own neighborhood. This on top of the fact that many in Tunisia are expecting a further deterioration of the security situation ahead of the democratic elections next month. It’s things like these that make the idea of a police strike a bit unnerving.
But after we fly out of Tunisia this afternoon, I won’t have to check the news for these sorts of events. Or at least I can check my usual news in a more detached way, because it won’t cause me immediate practical consequences. It will be weird to read the news about Libya without wondering if tomorrow I’ll see Qaddafi sunbathing on my beach. Or go to Church every Sunday morning without first checking the the curfew and security state in Tunis. Tunisia has been in an official state of emergency for our entire time here.
And I thought we were completely out of the woods until yesterday, when my Guardian news feed reported that the general strike planned for the entire country of Italy today would be affecting air traffic. Our flight home goes through Rome. In fact, we have an overnight layover there. I could just see being told at the last minute (after we’ve moved out of our house and everything) that our flight from Tunis would not be allowed to land in Rome. Or getting so delayed that we missed our flight the next morning. “Blah,” as Toad would say.
I’d hoped it was an exaggeration, but further investigation revealed that even staff of Alitalia and other Italian airline companies (including pilots) would be participating in the strike. Fortunately, we’re flying Tunisair (a , our flight originates internationally, and we are supposed to land at 6:50 p.m., a couple of hours after the conclusion of the 8-hour strike, all cited by a friend in Italy as good reasons to hope that our flight might be unaffected. Better yet, our hotel has a shuttle service, so we’re not trying to rely on nonexistent public transportation or hopelessly scarce taxis once we get there.
Still, the whole thing just reminds me of the day we arrived in Tunisia. There was a general transportation strike that day, rendering taxis the only viable means of public transportation. And our taxi driver told us that even taxis would be joining the strike on the following day.
Knowing what I know about efficiency and punctuality in both Italy and Tunisia, I am just crossing my fingers that arriving a few hours after the strike won’t subject us to 8-hour lines or whatever might be the rest of the fallout from an entire day of nobody working. Because my curiosity to know what a major international airport looks like after everybody in it has been striking all day is not strong enough for me to want to see it in person.
Can’t I just click my heels together three times and say, “there’s no place like home?”