A CLITHEROE cricketer recalled his terrifying journey out of Tunisia at the weekend after the country descended into chaos.
Adam Wallace (31), who plays for Ribblesdale Wanderers, was flown out of the African country on Saturday after a state of emergency was declared.
Adam had booked a last minute one week holiday to Tunisia online with tour operator Thomson on Monday, January 10th, and flew out last Wednesday.
“No-one said that there were any problems in Tunisia when I booked, but I think it was part of the regime in that country that no-one was allowed to say anything,” explained the former St James’ CE Primary School pupil.
“The first that myself and the other holidaymakers in the hotel knew about it was late Thursday after we watched reports on Sky News in our hotel rooms. This said there was rioting in Tunis.”
Adam, who was staying in the resort of Port El Kantaoui, which is situated just outside of Sousse, said people then started to ask their holiday reps what was going on.
“Things just escalated from there. Thomas Cook at that point said it was going to start flying people home, but Thomson said it was going to wait and see how things panned out,” he said.
That evening, Adam, who is the security manager for Tesco at Burnley, was forced to abide by an overnight curfew, with the state television announcing threats of force for anyone who violated the restrictions.
At 11-30 p.m. that evening, he received a call in his hotel room from his Thomson representative, telling him to be packed and ready to go by 7 a.m. the following morning.
“In my resort the hotel was fabulous, the area around was great and you really couldn’t tell that there was any trouble,” Adam recalled.
“We were all just going along with what the Foreign Office had said, but once we started travelling to the airport on Saturday morning, it all hit home.
“It was very unnerving. There were a lot of army personnel and police on the roads and we saw a petrol station that had been smashed up and people were looting it. The streets were just filled with smoke.
“It was very intimidating and not nice at all,” Adam added.
“It was very eerie and people on the bus didn’t speak to each other – they were just taking it all in. There were gangs of men hanging around and the army. You could feel it was going to kick off again.”
Adam and the rest of the holidaymakers reached Monastir airport, which was packed with fellow holidaymakers desperate to get home, at around 10 a.m. and their flight took off just 40 minutes later.
Once on the plane, Adam could see smoke and flames from a nearby prison which had been set on fire.
Father-of-one Adam, who praised Thomson staff for the way they dealt with the incident, said the crisis had not put him off holidaying in Tunisia.
“I went a couple of years ago and would go back again. It’s a lovely place and the people are lovely out there. In the tourist resorts there was no trouble and we’re the income for the people who work there. The staff at my hotel stood crying as we left,” he said.
His parents, Eric and Christine Wallace, of Henthorn Road, Clitheroe, told the Advertiser how relieved they were to have their son back on British soil.“We didn’t sleep for a couple of nights when we heard about it,” explained Eric, who also plays cricket for Ribblesdale Wanderers alongside his son.
“We’re just so glad to have him back home.”