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A message has been delivered to my room, but in French. With my rusty, rudimentary high school language skills I can’t quite make it out, so I call the front desk to ask for help in translating it. A handsome man, maybe 50, appears at my door.

Learning I am American, a broad smile spreads across his face. “We have been friends for 300 years,” he says, shaking my hand enthusiastically. I’m not sure, but I think he tells me that the U.S. helped liberate Tunisia from France. I smile back; words are sometimes unnecessary.

Tunisia is one of those places people can’t quite place: is it in the Middle East? Africa? Europe? I’ve come on a 10-day tour with PromoTunisia, to get an overview of this beautiful, varied, educated and prosperous (84% literacy, a large middle class where 8 out of 10 people own homes) North African country.

Many Europeans come here for the sun and the thalassotherapy, supervised medical spa treatments that use sea water. I’ve come for the Roman ruins — 3,000 years worth; the landscape (coasts, desert, cities); the food and the friendly people.

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