Crocs and Flamingos, Treading the Tourist Trail on Jerba!

Dave the motorhome has just about given up on reporting his location, as he’s still at Centre des Stages et Vacances, Aghir, Isle of Jerba, Tunisia. Over the course of our travels, a few places have ticked a set of boxes which even we don’t understand, and held onto us for days, this is one of them. When we finally got up this morning, fellow Europeans were walking the length of the beach from the adjacent hotels, a couple of German folks came over to tell us they had wohnmobiles and to ask about using them here. We chatted for a while, before telling them it’s awful to be in a motorhome here (hey, we’ve our own private beach here for €8 a night, we don’t wanna share).

We could live here for about €300 a month.
We could live here for about €300 a month (made cheaper by the fact we can’t find anywhere that sells beer).

In an attempt to make ourselves feel less like dossers and more like the intrepid traveller we aspire to be (one day, one day), we went for a drive about the island again today. Pretty much the same route as a couple of days ago, but this time with a when-in-Rome smattering of tourist attraction thrown in. Having spotted flamingo from afar the other day, Ju was keen to get a closer look, and we spent a few hours pottering into various dirt tracks off the road and wandering about with binoculars and our camera (which has gone mad, probably with a brain full of Sahara, and starts recording video every 3 seconds). Result: about a million photos of birds.

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We know nothing about birds, but hey, we know these. The pink ladies, right?
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And we’re willing to bet a few dinar this is a spoonbill.

Tunisia’s not known for it’s food, which is pretty much couscous, omelette  or grilled meat with chips. The Rough Guide starts each town’s ‘Eating’ section with something along the lines of ‘there’s nowhere good to eat here’. Since we’re too tight to pay for gourmet grub anyway, we’re happy to make do with anything which comes with chips. Spotting tables full of German folks, one of which sat semi-placating his dog as it threatened to eat anyone or their child which came within meters of it, we nipped in. The table sank in the sand and the food was fabulous.

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Two bottled drinks, a brik, bread, chips, a grilled chicken and omelette, €6 oh yeah!

Fueled up, we cruised on up to Houmt Souk, this time bypassing the place and swinging Dave sideways at the sight of a supermarket, a proper one, a big shiny thing. Dave’s got loads of grub in him, but we’ve seen so few Western-style shops that we still get giddy and want in, especially at the possibility of meat and ale procurement. This one came up good on the meat, an actual counter with nice cuts on little polystyrene trays, YEAH! No beer though, the best I could do was a zero alcohol can of lager, we even looked around outside for a secret door. I spied the laptops, nothing less than £400, no low cost netbooks at all, weird.

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A Jerban mosque.
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We had to laugh at this, but usefully we now know the word ‘Fiat’ in Arabic.

Back on the road we’d a mission to make feeding time. There’s a tourist complex here called Jerba Explore, which has three attractions: a group of traditional Jerban buildings, a museum of art and craft from the Islamic world and, and let’s face it this is why everyone comes, about a million of these guys:

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They feed the crocs three times a week (it takes ’em three days to digest a meal), at 4pm in winter. We made it with about 5 minutes to spare, finding a glass shed packed with fellow Western tourists looking out over a sea of pre-historic green scaly toothyness. As the guys flung the bloody meal in, only a few of the beasts bothered to grab at it, we guess they’re well fed. One of the guards got in among them, tapping their backs and heads with a shovel to get them to shift about for us. Ju and I have seen an Aussie guy who gets up close and personal with the beasts over on the East Coast, he told us they’re predictable animals, sitting on one as he used a stick to keep its eyes closed.

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The Tunisian Croc Dundees all sported a fetching tooth necklace.
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And had a pocketful of said gnashers for sale (only if you ask). I fancied one, a bit of haggling and I parted with €3, that croc will be happy when the tooth fairy comes!

Deal done, the chap pointed to one side and told us, in German (it seems half of Bavaria is here) that there are seven month old crocs over there. Peering through a tiny window:

Even at 7 months, they look vicious.
Even at 7 months, they look seriously vicious.

Out of the croc enclosure, we looked around the rest of the place, pretty much deserted as the clock ticked towards closing time. The buildings are all representative of those traditionally on the island, but felt unreal to walk about, all being custom-built for tourists and being placed close together so we could see ’em all in minutes.

A Jerban house. Completely real, but for the fact no-one has ever lived in it?
A Jerban house. Completely real, but for the fact no-one has ever lived in it?
Although one of the mattresses has been kipped on.
Although one of the mattresses has been kipped on.

Once we’d spied the looms, the friendly camel-powered water pump, the underground olive press and underground kiln, we had just about enough energy to eyeball the museum, completely alone by this point as everyone had gone home but the guard. Although energy levels were flagging, and all the descriptions were in French, we both enjoyed the place, finding some fascinating bits and bobs from Iran, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, just about everywhere across the Islamic world.

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Platforms anyone?
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A Moroccan lock and key.
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Beautiful calligraphy.

And with that, we were done. Cruising back here the sun set, a burning and brilliant display across the even sky, cutting a palm and mosque shaped silhouette, we shook our heads at its beauty.

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Bonus Mogwai-a-leaping photo!

Tomorrow, we HAVE to leave, no we do, we REALLY have to get going. Hmmm. Jay

5 Comments

    • Yep, we’ve even done a factory reset. It’s pretty certain it’s sand in and around the buttons. We’re brushing, blowing and loving it every day – fingers crossed it’ll recuperate!

      Ju x

  1. Hi there I do like your photos but the thing I like the most is the necklace your guide has on. Do you sell them or where can I get one like that!

    • Hi Johan, we bought a couple of crocodile teeth from the guide, but sadly we don’t sell the necklaces. You may be able to get one over the Internet, otherwise you need to take a trip to Jerba! Cheers,
      Jay

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