Sunday, September 09, 2007

Political dialogue

I've had it with ruins as I've mentioned but on the way back was one more archeological site of note and we had extra time.

And there were two things about Utique that attracted me. First, it is the source of the name for the city of Utica, near Albany, in NY. And second, it was a major Phoenician trading port in ancient times and was briefly an African capital after Carthage was destroyed. Utique had sided with the Romans who had used it as a base to attack Carthage in the Third Punic War. Regular readers know of my recent interest in the Punic wars.

Today, Utique is not on the coast and most of it is buried unexcavated from beneath
flood deposits spit out by the Oued Mejerda, the biggest full-time river in the country.

We had a little trouble finding the site so stopped for directions from a big burly man interested in tourists.

"English?" he asked me through the car window, surprising me with the language."
"No, American," I told him.
"Ahhh," he said pulling back, "Bush?"
"No. Bush, no!" I said, making not a politcal statement but a safe response to an Arab asking about the US president.
"Oooo," he said, thrusting out his hand to shake. "Give him shit, yes?"

Maybe it was this that prompted Zied later to ask if I'd seen the latest Osama bin Laden tape.

What do you think of him? I asked.

"I am not for him. I am not for Bush," he said. But he did wonder if Hasidic Jews had blown up the World Trade Center.

"No," I told him again, feeling like a recording, "No."

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