August 20, 2005

Receiving Mail in Tunis

Overall, it's been pretty easy to receive mail in Tunis. There's to-your-door delivery and mail takes about 10 days between Tunisia and the U.S., going either way.
You can buy stamps from many little newspaper stands all over.

However, being functionally illiterate in Tunisia, I did have some trouble figuring out how much postage I needed to put on my letters. For several weeks I was sticking 1.300TD, or about one dollar, on my letters. It turns out the real rate is about half this, .700TD. Letters cost the same.

Next I sent several postcards out with insufficient postage, due to a miscommunication. Someone had explained the price to me in French, which I don't really speak. It was something like "sette cent" which I thought meant 600. (In Arabic, the word for "six" is "sitta.") Today somebody explained it to me in both French and Arabic, and I realized my mistake.

Receiving packages is slightly more complicated. These are not delivered to your door, but held at the post office for your signature. You also have to present your passport. In the summer and the month of Ramadan the post offices keep reduced hours, open only from 7:30am to 1:30pm.

In my situation the process was complicated by the fact that by the time my package arrived in Carthage, I had moved to Tunis. Due to my class schedule, the only day I could make it out to Carthage before the post office closed was Saturday. Today I finally got my package, and am now off to the beach to read Harry Potter!


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