Day 1 - Saturday 22 May 2010

Photos by Robert Cunningham & Mark Dermul.

Our adventure actually started in August 2009. That’s when the Trip got announced on the website and people could sign up. Needless to say that the 18 spots were taken in a matter of days. I even had several names on the reserve list, should anyone have to drop out. This actually happened three times, but they were replaced very quickly and in the end, 18 Pioneers left for the intergalactic sandbox that is Tunisia on Saturday 22nd May 2010.

After a long night (or a short one, depending on your point of view) at my home we left for the Brussels airport to take a Shuttle Tydirium… err, a Boeing 767-300 I mean, to Jerba.

Once arrived, we soon were united with our three jeep drivers (good ol’ faithful Fethi among them) and set off for Sidi Jemour – aka Toshi Station in Anchorhead. ‘Dude, that’s awesome!’ was heard here for the first time, but it certainly would not be the last… not by a long shot! 

Sidi Jemour is a place of worship, so we were not allowed to enter this temple, but then all the scenes were shot outdoors anyway. Sidi Jemour is only seen briefly in a shot where the landspeeder rushes into Anchorhead on its way to Mos Eisley. The scenes where Luke and Biggs say their goodbyes, which can be found on the Behind the Magic cd-rom, were cut from the final film and unfortunately not restored for the Special Edition. We all took turns posing for a great photo, holding a… power convertor. Irresistibly funny!

Approximately 6 kilometers to the south we encountered Ben Kenobi’s Hermitage. It was still in great shape and hence the ‘Dude’s and ‘Awesome’s were handed out in abundance. Many of the Pioneers were surprised that it’s such a small structure (remember that the one you see in the Special Edition is larger, but also completely CGI, so check out the original movie!) and that it was so close to the water. After all, this is just a fisherman’s house, where the fishermen relax after a long day at sea. There were more bushes around than can be seen in the movie. Lucasfilm had those removed for the shot to give it the look of a house in the unforgiving Jundland Wastes.

Our last stop before crossing over to the Tunisian mainland by ‘le bac’ – the ferry – would be Ajim. There we found the 40-year old domed building that doubled for the Mos Eisley Cantina. It is completely surrounded by modern structures (I witnessed the start of the construction works in 2005) and one can only wonder how much longer it will be before this small, but iconic landmark will be gone forever.

Stormtrooper Checkpoint – where the landspeeder is stopped and the famous line ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for’ was delivered, is now gone. An apartment building took its place. But the Falcon Blast Off Alley was still easily recognizable, although there are many buildings in the background now, that were not there when shooting took place. Let’s not forget that it’s been over thirty years. Needless to say that many photos were taken there as well. 

We then had a very, very long drive ahead of us to Sfax, about 300 kilometres to the north, so we set off in late afternoon to arrive at the Hotel Thyna just in time for a late night dinner. Then we al retreated to our rooms get prepare for things to come.

Forward to Day 2