Dougga is an ancient Roman city built on an older Punic (Carthagenian) city, so it is unusual for a Roman city because the roads do not follow the traditional Roman linear pattern. It is also unusually complete for a ruin, because the city died out after the Romans, so there wasn;t much need to pillage the stone form the city to build other stuff. It became a small agricultural town, and the last of the people who lived in it were moved to New Dougga in the 1960’s.
You can read more about the History of Dougga here.
The Punic Mausoleum was fun to climb. It had two opened door in it, so naturally, Jet and Zaylie wanted to go in. I boosted them up to get a good look, but there were more stone doorways, and they didn’t want to go further in. Mausoleums are for dead people, and they didn’t want to find a dead person, even if the person has been dead for 2200 years!
But I am getting ahead of myself! In a previous post I wrote about the foods I could find to eat if we were wildcrafting. I forgot to mention prickly pear fruits, though. We buy them at the market, and they are very yummy, kind of like dragonfruit, but with the consistency of a passionfruit. And such cheery colours, too! They are available on all the cactus growing wild in the ditches and empty lots.
So when we arrived at Dougga and found a little temple with cactus fruit growing right over the wall, it seemed like a great idea to snack on our own sun-warmed, fresh-picked prickly pear fruit to start us off. Look!
Like eating a sunset!
And we all enjoyed it, until we realized we were covered in cactus fuzz, and each hair had to be pulled out individually. And it prickled. Which is a desert fruit way of saying hurt very much.
I took the first bite, and was perhaps the most incautious. I ended up with a lip full of prickles that felt like I had a walrus mustache INSIDE my top lip. It is truly a loving family when your people will take the time to pick individual cactus hairs from the inside of your lip.
The awful thing about cactus hairs in your lip is how one is tempted to explore the prickles with one’s tongue, which transfers the tiny hairs to one’s tongue. The tongue then goes about its usual tongue business, touching other parts of the mouth, which can transfer the little swords to the gums, the roof of the mouth, or to the lower lip. And here is something your family cannot do: They cannot pick the hairs off the inside of your gums over your molars. They just can’t. There is a space, light and access problem on their side, and a breathing and manouvering problem on the stuck person’s side. Also, have you looked at your tongue lately? It’s got bumpy tastebuds on it. How can you see a fine hair amongst all that texture? Tongue mounted cactus hairs are just yours till they grow out. It’s four days later, and I still have a few bristles left in my lip. Later, in town, when we saw truckfuls of the fruit for sale, we also saw that people had stiff rubber gloves and thick cloths for getting the fruit ready. Oh.
So, while we explored the ruins, we also had to stop periodically and pick the thin spines off our hands and faces. As you are admiring the photos, please also envision the mutual grooming and groaning.