Advantures in Tunissa

Last Revised: $Revision: 1.4 $, $Date: 2003/02/24 23:42:25 $



Sfax - 1997-12-28



I traveled to SFAX per Louage and stayed at a the A????? Hotel for 40 TUD. Hotels and banks don't accept credit cards out side tourist areas. After asking at the first Hotel I checked out another one next to it. I smelled paint when I entered the reception but otherwise it looked fine.

I asked the guy in arabic if I could get a room. He answered in french and after I explained in english the the hotel is still under construction and will open in a week.


Gābes - Mo 1997-12-29





I left the hotel and changed some money. At the Loage station close to the hotel I was told that the Loages in direction South depart from the other place next at the train station. It was the usual Renault station wagon, the type of car that is usually used for Loages. I was seated at the rear seat which is a pretty uncomfortable place.
I beautiful lady sit next to me. She ask some thing in Arabic and French. I studied the Arabic language with her for the two hours the trip took her name was Riem (24J) and she is a professeur at a school.

We arrived at 11h. in Gābes. People are much friendlier then in the tourist areas and don't try to trick you for money. I am a passionate Inline-skater. So I took my skates with me and skated thru oasis about 20 km. Traffic consists of tourist-coach shooters (kind of ...). It is pretty silent. Within the oasis the road was fairly smooth concerning of course standard. I talked to the people that sell goods to tourist in the oasis. One could speak a bit German. I learned some Arabic with there help. One wanted to try the Inline skates but could not even stand up on them. Every body had fun and they invited me for to stay. I had some Kuskus a Arabic meal made of HIRSE and CARROTS. I was delicious. I left and got a Louage to SFAX.


The Loage


In Gābes you have to pay for a Loage ticket at an office and the driver cashes the tickets immediately. We arrived in SFAX at 18:00h witch was rush hour. I tried to get a taxi to get back to the other Loage station were I arrived the other day to go back north. But although there were hundreds of taxis they were all occupied. This was the same like in Tunis. I ended up walking to the other Loage station. A driver told me that the Loages to Sousse depart from the other Loage place, the one I just came from - very funny. I took a taxi back. It was about 19:00h and it is tougher to get all seats full for Loage drivers. This time it was a Renault Espace which is very comfortable compared to the stannard cars. It took half an hour until all seats were occupied. About 500 Meter at a traffic light clutch failed to work and the car did not move a bit. It seemed to be pretty worn-out. So we pushed the car to the other side of the road and the driver tried it again and it worked. So he drove back and I thought we just get another car and he get it to the garage. But he tried it again and it failed again at the traffic light.


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I the following I learned some lesson about Arabic understandment. Now I would go back or push the car over the corner if I would want to risk break down. We pushed it again over the corner and he drove back and i --- tried it a nother time. But since he has another that he could not go that way he just turned right driving a completely different way!! That is the typical Arabic tack-tick of avoiding problems. The car seemed to be in somewhat bad condition. After about 20 km there was a problem with the wheel suspension. The driver seems to know it and fixed it. All in all we break down six times and he always fixed it again also the distance between failures was declining.
Remarkable is that now one was angry. Not the driver and not the passengers. We had a lot of fun and it was the most pleasant trip I had. No one spoke English and I could tell then with my little Arabic language knowledge things an supplement it with gestures. I learned that one was exporting fruits to Europe front Tunis-airport.
Four kilometers in front of Sousse we definitely changed the Loages. Everybody paid its 6 TUD - since we finally have arrived no matter if i t took 3 instead of 1.5 hours. And 500 Milliemes four the other guy that brought us to Sousse.



Matmata - We 1997-12-31




At the Loage station in Gābes again I tried to get a trip to Matamta. Someone told me that there are no Loages to Matmata and he offered me a trip for 17 TUD in his taxi which is twice to four times as much as a regular taxi would cost. I did not belive him and we I met Kirsten and Dirk. They also want to go to Matmata and we find out the the Loage depart 500m down the to Matmata street. Someone told us that there was also a bus at 12:00h. We just catched the bus which was about to depart when we stopped it. The trip to Matmata costs 1.460 TUD.
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We traveled the 40 km thru the steppe consisting of loamy soil and ????? vegetation. Matmata is a small village with pour people unpaved roads, that lives mostly on tourism. There are three hotels two of them are made from old Berbers.
They digged a large cylinder in to the ground of about 10 meters wide and 5 meters deep. From that center place they digged chambers in to the loamy soil. That ensure that is comfortable cool when it's hot outside and warm in the knight.
Indeed it was warm in the night when it was below 10°C out side (with out heating for sure). Those cylinder-living units are connected with tunnels.
Today they are used as Hotels and I stayed at the SIDI DRISS. For 10.800 TUD for a night you also get a pretty good lunch and breakfast. Of course this are no first class hotels. There is only cold shower and limited sanitary instalation. The hotels are the main attraction. I heard that most organized stupid tourist are coming for a meal and live then.
There were only 6 people staying at the SIDI DRISS this night. One British guy who traveled for several month, starting in Turkey and went thru Lebanon, Syria Jordan, Egypt Libia and finally Tunisia. A French couple and and my friends I came with.
Dinner was at 18:30 to 21:00h and consist of a tomato-soap a kind of pancake and a truly giant portion of Kuskus, this time supplemented with potatoes and meat.I thought that it already was 1st January and I was not the only one. NO one was sure the watch of one guy was one day ahead so we had a discussion on that and found that it was 31-12-1997.


It was not only new years eve but also the 1st day of the Islamic Ramadan. In the evening we went to the local Arabic cafe and there where more people then usual but they don't seem to recognize the greorgien new year and party. We just had a couple of peppermint tee, the local favorite drink.



Douz - Th 1998-01-01



I departed after breakfast at about 9:00 from Matmata to New-Matmata with Louage and then continued to Gābes. From there I made my way to Kebibi and Douz at the boundary of the Sahara desert.
There was only the kind of pleasant backpack tourism. Like always on Thursday it was market day. The Souk was mainly for local people, selling garments and Dattels and other food. Only at the rounding buildings were selling carpets shoes, woolen blankets, ornaments to tourists. But unlike elsewhere these people are friendly Beduins, and don't try to misuse tourist with aggressive and penetrant manners.
For one TUD I took a ride at the dune. There are about 250 Camels. Only at sun rise and sun set there come 4 busses with tourist and take a short ride. I was afternoon so there were no tourists and I ask and got a ride for 2.5 TUD for an hour. A pleasant experience. Know I know why the Camel (a Domedar) is called the ship of the desert - you get see sick (just kidding). But he shook his head and I did not understand. He could only speak French and Arabic and it was some what hard to tell him that I speak a bit Arabic. Finally he said iesmee Salem which means My name is Salem!
I stayed in a hotel called 20 Mars. Also it was of the simple kind it was nicely decorated, with happy appearing colors- really beautiful . For the 11 TUD you get dinner and breakfast included. I sit at a table with a French group and for dinner you could choose between Kuskus and Some meat with potatoes. As entree we had soap. The dinner was severed on glass plate and the meal were nicely decorated.


El Jem and Tunis - We 1998-01-02 ?




Tunis appear just a European type of a large city with usual shopping malls combined with Arabic parts with Souks ....

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Kaioran - Th 1998-01-04




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