Dave the motorhome is slowly getting cleaner, his bundles of laundry threatening to lift the table are reducing in size daily and his seat covers are once again an off-white colour, as opposed to the mottled brown they had become. Yes, he’s still in Camping Desert Club in Douz and we’re making use of the washing machine each day. Although as it takes two and half hours for a load, it’s a slow process – but we have time, lots of it.
Last night we walked into town with Wijn (whose name I have probably spelt wrong, so apologies if you’re reading this!), who had arrived earlier in the day in his German motorhome. He’s Dutch and is touring Tunisia with his pet pooch, whose name I won’t even attempt to spell and a couple in a French registered motorhome. While he headed off for a bite to eat we went back to the Publinet (Internet Cafe) we’d visited on our first night. We were welcomed in and I headed to our trusted PC (number 3). Jay enquired if they had wifi and the man said yes, so out came the laptop – this meant we could both have an internet fix. The man looked confused and asked if we wanted to use wifi or computer. We said wifi, and he told us it was free and pointed to some plastic furniture by his desk that we could use.
This strange business model doesn’t compute for us. We can use the wifi for free but have to pay to use their computers – which are all sat there empty otherwise, how does he make any money if we only use his wifi? In the end we opted to use both, so I took to the computer while Jay used the wifi. A couple of minutes later the call to prayer went out and the man asked if we would still be there in 15 minutes only he had to go and pray, and off he went. Leaving us with all his computers, money etc. We just shut the door behind us and pretended the place was closed.
When we got back to Dave we watched some of The English Patient, spotting various locations around here that we had travelled past which were supposedly in Egypt – the magic of the movies! Wijn had managed to find somewhere semi-decent to eat and had chips and beans for 5TD, the Rough Guide doesn’t exactly sing the praises of the eating establishments around here, so I’m not holding out much hope when we venture out for a meal.
This morning I was still feeling rough, so it was a very slow start to the day (and my brain is still fuddled now, so sorry for any typos). Dave’s seat covers went in the washing machine and we plonked down in our camping chairs in the sunshine. We got chatting to Janet from America who has been teaching English abroad for a number of years, she is now in-between jobs so has been in Douz for a couple of months chilling out. We asked her how she found it here as a woman and I was slightly shocked by what she told us. Basically any woman out walking on her own is deemed to be looking for a bit of nookie, especially a western woman, and should a man decide that is what she wants, even if she doesn’t – it’s her fault. I re-read the warning in the Rough Guide about women walking alone in the Palmeraie around here and it says it’s a no-no at any time, not just night. After Jay’s encounter yesterday it looks like no member of team Buckley will be venturing out alone at any point in Tunisia.
Janet gave us some great insights into life around here and in several other Islamic countries she has visited, including the ‘it’s best not to look’ approach to seeing your food being prepared. She’s a brave person to be out here on her own. The campsite owner here had to ask her not to walk in the oasis at night, as should anything happen, it’ll make national news and the tourist industry will take a massive hit. Wijn wandered over with his pooch and joined in the conversation which soon turned to how he came to be travelling. It turned out he had had an accident while paragliding and was paralysed from the chest down. Over the months and years, he painfully learned to walk again and retired early, now spending his time seeing places. An experience like that would certainly urge you to get the most out of life, and has prompted Jay to cross ‘learn to para-glide’ from his list of things to do when we get back!
The morning soon passed and the laundry was hung out. Jay rustled up some scrambled eggs on toasted baguette for lunch using the eggs we bought yesterday (they were in a little plastic bag, so it’s a good job I kept hold of our egg box from Italy) before we all set off for a walk. We wandered along the dusty path until we reached one of the main roads through the Palmeraie, then followed that back into town. The place was very quiet. The metal doors of shops were closed for lunch and there were only a handful of mopeds to dodge. We made our way to the two cash points in town, no luck at the first but the second (the one that hadn’t worked yesterday) coughed out some money – finally! Everything is done in cash here and we were starting to run low.
Walking back towards the campsite the dead eyes of a camel head on a metal hook told us that the butchers had a fresh load of meat in – camel meat. Jay headed in there while I waited outside with Charlie staring hypnotically at the dismembered head slowly rotating in the breeze above its severed feet, it was like a macabre art installation. Jay emerged with a bag of camel meat (bone included) and did well not to hold it aloft in triumph as he exited the shop. It cost just under 5TD (about €2.50) and was described as the butcher as the best cuts – even after he dropped one of them on the floor – Jay later rinsed it in bottled water).
A few more bottles of water were bought as we’re getting through it quickly. Normally we drink the water from our fresh water tank if it’s been boiled, we use bottled for cold drinks, however the water on the campsite has a chemical taste – which we’ve been told is because it’s clean and drinkable – but it doesn’t taste so good in your brew.
Walking through the town we were stopped by a man offering us a camel ride, we politely declined explaining that we’d already been on one, so he offered to take us to his shop ‘beautiful things, desert roses’, again we declined – we’d already found our own. A bit later another man approached us, shaking Jay’s hand like an old friend and telling us he was called ‘Ali’, he then shook mine and stroked Charlie, smiling and uttering greetings in French. I assumed he was trying to sell us something, but afterwards Jay told me it was the man who had offered him ‘services’ in the Palmeraie yesterday, most strange! Still now he’s seen Jay with his family he might steer clear in future.
The afternoon has been spent reading, cleaning Dave’s benches of a tonne of sand and dog fur before we put the covers back on and watching the rest of The English Patient. Market day starts tomorrow so we’ll head to that in the afternoon (last load of washing in the morning), before finally moving Dave from his happy home on Thursday. Jay has been looking at places to go in the guide and on the maps, I’ve been snoozing – I wish this cold would go.