Red Alert

Left at Porte de France, the city gate that separates old Tunis from the new, down the pavement, past barrels of pickels, mounds of incense, a crowd of bright pottery and you will find the doorway to Ben Yedder coffee shop. The walls are lined with black and white photos that look like a history of Tunis. There are ancient trucks, tribal musicians and a man looking presidential in an open-top car. Somewhere in all of these photographs is the façade of the Ben Yedder coffee outlet.


Now, it’s a place that grinds your beans and serves an unbelievable count of coffee’s per minute as people stream in and scrum at the counter. Local workers bring their own cups – the men, without exception go for the short espresso’s or at a stretch the capuchin which has a splash of milk and foam in the small cup.

Our driver who has been practicing loosing his temper in the traffic always gets an espresso glass takeaway and keeps filling it all day. No paper cup for him – it does not taste good, he says, and I expect he thinks it is unmanly.


Today at lunch he asks me if there are treasure hunters in South Africa. So I reply in the affirmative thinking he must have seen something on the Internet or Discovery channel about wreck divers off our coast. But this is his way of starting to tell me that he is a treasure hunter.

He says he has been caught with seven hundred kilos of gold. I make a bit of a joke out of this, saying the one thing you shouldn’t do if you have 700 kilos of gold, is get caught. He is not impressed with my light-hearted response and says he could show me interesting things. He has pictures of ancient coins on his phone and claims to have found scrolls, which, of course, are worth hundreds of Euros. After a few more spoons of borghol, he follows up asking If I know anyone who wants red mercury. Red mercury? We all look at each other and our dependable fixer orders another round of mint tea and gets us talking about the shoot plan.

We are reaching the end of our shoot with the captain of the Esperance under 16a football team and his family. It is a time when characters are tired of you being in their lives, and you are tired of trying to get those last essential moments. It is a balance you have to get right. You know there will be reluctance, but you hope you have done enough for some loyalty to win the day.

football family



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