In 1974, Lefert, my boyfriend/husband, and I planned our first long vacation, a group tour of Tunisia and a part of Algeria. I was not looking forward to the group, but the travel agency assured us that in that heat, we would see more that way. We weren’t used to being an open gay couple yet, and after the necessary inoculations and preparations it was time to go.
We flew from Amsterdam to Tunis. At the airport, the heat already overwhelmed us. The bus with a nice and cool air-conditioner drove us to the hotel in the capital, and we strolled the souks after our evening meal. It was a maze of streets and alleys with shops. We really had to get used to our group, so the next day Lefert and I decided to have a look at Tunis without the group and went back to the souks. We noticed that a lot of men and boys were very cheeky. They would look at us and smile, saying: “Psssst... Tu veut faire l’amour?”
Lefert’s hair was blond and I had a beard with long hair. We were very popular. They kept yelling “Croef, Croef” at me. The soccer player Johan Cruyff was very well-known over there. Afterwards, we visited one of the oldest mosques with a guide, the Al-Zaytuna Mosque. Shorts and a T-shirt were not allowed, so at the entrance we were dressed with chaste caftans. It was a very impressive building.
After three days in Tunis we visited Carthage. I had brought my art history notes from the Zaanlands Lyceum grammar school in Zaandam. I was extremely excited and read to Lefert: “The oldest archaeological finds in the harbor town of Carthage date from 725 BC.” Lefert was amused by the way I was reading it to him. I was very upset to see that members of the group were taking mosaic stones from the site. Tunisia obviously did not have any money to guard its treasures.
In El Kef we slept with the group under the starry sky on a courtyard of a walled school. Meanwhile, we had made friends with a couple, Reniek and Willemijn. They were walking around in white cotton shirts they had bought on Waterlooplein with floral cords around their waist. Men respected them, unlike some of the other girls in our group. They were walking around in jeans that were cut way too short, wearing loose-fitting T-shirts. Their dangling breasts and visible nipples were driving men crazy. They were grabbing and pinching “our” girls, so we walked around them to protect them.
After so many sights, we were off the next day. Reniek and Willemijn went to the market, while Lefert and I decided to go to the swimming pool. At the end of the town we quickly found a sign with “piscine.” We entered a gate and walked across a soccer field. We arrived at a shady place next to the overcrowded swimming pool. There was a cool breeze. Swimming was almost impossible, but the water was lovely. Soon, we were surrounded by a group of curious boys. Two of the larger boys sat next to us. They were about thirteen and had little black hairs on their legs; Mo with sleek long hair, and Achmed with curly hair. I had to go to the bathroom. It was up a hill with some open-air showers and a toilet. After peeing, I decided to take a little shower.
And all of a sudden, Mo was there. “Tu veut faire l’amour?,” he asked while dropping his swimming trunks. I squatted and started giving him a blow-job. But that wasn’t what he wanted. He turned me around and put his hard cock inside of me. While I felt him coming inside me, he whispered: “Je t’aime.” I held on to him pinching, and I also came. Mo disappeared. I quickly finished my shower.
But there Mo was again, and he had brought curly-haired Achmed with him. “Mon ami aussi?,” he asked. But that was too much, so I said: “Restez ici. Attendez une minute.” I quickly went to the swimming pool and asked Lefert to quickly go to the shower area. He stood up and went to the shower. Mo returned and sat next to me, smiling. Later on, Achmed also joined us, looking shy, followed by Lefert. Soaking wet he sat next to me with a naughty smile and said: “You villain you.” I kissed him.
In spite of the busy program of the group journey, we were having a lot of fun with the boys and the men. It was nice to relax in the evenings, when it was cooler, after all those wonderful sights. Before we would travel to Algeria, we were to spend one more night in Jendouba. We slept on a kind of camping, and heard a group of boys in a tent drumming and singing. Lefert and I decided to check it out. We were invited in immediately. The teacher had a liquor bottle he kept giving to us. A boy who was sitting next to me put his arms around me. We listened to wonderful Arabic songs. Then we were asked to sing something as well. I had been very successful with the song “Mustapha” by Corry Brokken, a Dutch singer from the 1950s and 1960s with a wonderful voice. I began with the rhythm and the boys with the drum recognized it and immediately followed. I took another sip and started singing:
Onder de manen schijnen de platanen
Wil ik je sultan zijn, wees jij dan mijn sultane
Was kunnen jou goud en juwelen schelen
In de Sahara kun je spelen met kamelen
Dat zegt mijn vriendje Mustapha
Hij meent het goed die snoes maar ja
Hij is van origine een Arabier
Dat bier is best maar ik blijf toch liever hier
Under the moons shine the sycamores
Should I be your sultan, you’ll be my sultana
What do you care about gold and jewels
In the Sahara you can play with camels
So says my little friend Mustapha
He means well, the peach, but well
He’s of Arab origin
That beer is great but I prefer to stay here
We crossed the border into Algeria and reached the city Constantine. The next day in the afternoon, we were free to do things for ourselves. Reniek and Willemijn tagged along with Lefert and me. We took a taxi to a suburb and met a couple of guys. They asked us if we wanted to accompany them at the wedding party of their cousin. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we did join them. In a cool house, we were introduced to several men squatting around a low table. We were introduced to everyone and were given a bottle of cold Cola. A number of women emerged from the kitchen and placed a large plate with couscous on the table.
We made little couscous balls with our hands and treated ourselves to delicious pieces of mutton from the plate. At one point, Reniek and Willemijn were asked to go to another room. A veiled woman entered the room with a sheet. Under the table, I kicked Lefert. The sheet with blood from the deflowered bride was passed along. The men sniffed, giggled and nodded approvingly. Lefert and I also passed on the sheet. Afterwards, we quickly said our goodbyes to everyone.
* Years later, I saw Reniek and her daughter at Lefert’s cremation.