Turn Around Point on the Maztouria Loop

Outside stood a few dusty blocky shops. Inside one door to some lads were playing table football. I fancied challenging them to a game until I saw how good they were, trapping the ball easily, rolling it back and forth with the wee plastic man before hammering it at lightning speed into the opposite goal.

Dave the motorhome is, this time, fully paid up and getting in the way of fellow tourists’ photos in the fortified ksar courtyard of Hotel Les Gorfas (N33.36878 E10.43677), which is open. The lady who runs the show here tells us it’s always open, although when we arrived it was shut and we cheekily moved the barrier again to get in. Depends on your definition of ‘open’ I guess? The meuzzin, the mosque official who sings out the call to prayer and who’s job has been generally replaced with recordings, is most definitely live here and struggling with the PA system! He’s sorted it now, here’s what I’m listening to as I tap this out:

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After yesterday’s shock news of the killing of Chokri Belaid in Tunis, I found myself browsing http://www.aljazeera.com, and http://www.tunisia-live.net, not something I ever expected myself to be doing. They have more up to date and detailed info than the Western web sites and, as far as we could tell, reassuringly little was happening. Demonstrations in Tunis mainly, which we can easily keep away from.

Out on the streets of Tataouine this morning, everything was normal, or at least a Tunisian normal. I went out to try and find a newspaper. Somehow it’s a revelation to naive me that Islamic countries have huge internal struggles over interpretation of Islam, and just how far Islamic law should be integrated into the law of the country. I wanted to read a French language newspaper to see what was being said today, but could only find Arabic ones. The websites say that prime minister Hamadi Jebali’s decision to install a non-partisan technocrat government to get things moving is being challenged, so things won’t get moving. Politics here remind me of Italy. As far as we can see, none of this should affect us in any way, but we’ll keep watching.

In an effort to squeeze the last bit of dramatic on-the-edge-of-the-world scenery from the Tunisian desert before we head for the Mediterranean tomorrow, we pointed Dave towards the equator this morning, on a squashed circle of black-top called the Maztouria loop in the Rough Guide. The book’s author seemed to be a little reticent about the area’s charms, but we were close, and it was only a 48km loop, why not? The route would also take us to the most southerly point of our trip this year, to Ksar Ouled Soltane, also of Star Wars fame, which turned out to be a beautiful spot.

As I’ve already packed in a load of words, I’ll follow Ju’s lead of a day or two ago and just use photos. Hope you find some enjoyment in them.

We joked that some of the streets of Tataouine looked like a riot had taken place in them! They were quiet this morning though, nothing kicking off, no need to get outa there.
We joked that some of the streets of Tataouine looked like a riot had taken place in them all the time! They were quiet this morning though, nothing kicking off, no need to get outa there.
First stop: the hill-top abandoned village of Beni Barka. More to-die-for views.
First stop: the hill-top abandoned village of Beni Barka. More to-die-for views.
A crew of six or seven men were gradually rebuilding the place stone by stone. We could see them from from, tipping old rocks and sand from high above us, having us wonder if the path below was safe (it was).
A crew of six or seven men were gradually rebuilding the place stone by stone. We could see them from below, tipping old rocks and sand from high above us, having us wonder if the path below was safe (it was).
This chap came to greet us, showed us around, then said goodbye and asked for nothing. We handed over some baksheesh (slang for a tip, a couple of dinar in change), and the whole crew of guys thanked us.
This chap came to greet us, showed us around, then said goodbye and asked for nothing. We handed over some baksheesh (slang for a tip, a couple of dinar in change), and the whole crew of guys thanked us.
Fossilised seabed in the desert at Beni Barka. Incredible.
Fossilised seabed in the desert at Beni Barka. Incredible.
Heading south from Beni Barka to Ksar Ouled Soltane. Libya is on the horizon, we guess looking at the map.
Heading south from Beni Barka to Ksar Ouled Soltane. Libya is on the horizon, we guess looking at the map.
Next stop: Ksar Ouled Soltane. One chap asked if we wanted any info and when we said no thanks, said no problem and left us alone. Flippin' brilliant.
Next stop: Ksar Ouled Soltane. One chap asked if we wanted any info and when we said no thanks, said no problem and left us alone. Flippin’ brilliant.
Outside stood a few dusty blocky shops. Inside one door to some lads were playing table football. I fancied challenging them to a game until I saw how good they were, trapping the ball easily, rolling it back and forth with the wee plastic man before hammering it at lightning speed into the opposite goal.
Outside stood a few dusty blocky shops. Inside one door to some lads were playing table football. I fancied challenging them to a game until I saw how good they were, trapping the ball easily, rolling it back and forth with the wee plastic man before hammering it at lightning speed into the opposite goal.
More amazing road. I've stopped worrying so much about Dave conking out and more about being blown off the road by today's crazy wind.
More amazing road. I’ve stopped worrying so much about Dave conking out and more about being blown off the road by today’s crazy wind.
Is that a Trabant?! All of the cars from my youth are here, most of them still going strong.
Is that a Trabant?! All of the cars from my youth are here, most of them still going strong.
The road blocks are still here (the state of emergency was extended even before the Tunis killing), but no-one was being stopped.
The road blocks are still here (the state of emergency was extended even before the Tunis killing), but no-one was being stopped.
Oh yeah, life goes on.
Oh yeah, life goes on in Tunisia, which at this moment consisted of staring at us staring at them.
Lots of road works going on around here, mainly flood defences for the road it seems. While the work's going on, you get to go off roadin'.
Lots of road works going on around here, mainly flood defences for the road it seems. While the work’s going on, you get to go off roadin’.
Mucho sand today. Poor folks working or walking the road got blasted. You can see why scarves are so popular!
Mucho sand today. Poor folks working or walking the road got blasted. You can see why scarves are so popular!
Off to Libya for a fill-up.
Off to Libya for a fill-up.
Relief! How happy were we when this guy in front of us pulled in, his load looked about to dump itself on our track.
Relief! How happy were we when this guy in front of us pulled in, his load looked about to dump itself on our track as we headed for Medenine.
Medenine! And it's not souk day, phew. With a shooting pain in my shoulder we cruised through and parked up here, safe and sound, another small adventure under our belts.
Medenine! And it’s not souk day, phew. With a shooting pain in my shoulder we cruised through and parked up here, safe and sound, another small adventure under our belts.

Cheers! Jay

2 Comments

  1. Not a Trabi, but the saloon version of the Peugeot 404 – the ubiquitous old beige pickup that you’ve probably been seeing EVERYWHERE so far. Probably looks familiar from your youth since it looks so much like an Austin Cambridge/Morris Oxford.

    Did you manage to escape the indescribably bitter geranium tea from Madame at the Ksar in Metameur…? She’s lovely, but I think I can still taste the tea.

    Ah, memories of that wake-up call. He managed to leave the mic open one of the mornings we were there, and only remembered to turn it off at the end of the service.

    • Hi Adrian! Hah! :) The tea’s the same, only we couldn’t figure out what on earth the green stuff was. She said it’s good for a cold, mixed in with oil and rubbed on your face? Think I’ll stick to chicken sacrifice. Loads of sugar for us, so it tasted OK and she’s a lovely person, again not upset we shifted the barrier to get in. The meuzzin’s not got the hang of the PA still, been coughing up into it for half an hour, most entertaining and reminded me of my youth working in a supermarket when one of the lads popped a bag of sugar on the intercom button out in the back office, everyone got to listen to the boss whistling and ranting for ten minutes, fabulous. Greetings from the road, hope all’s good back in Blighty and you’re not snowed in again. Jay

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