Day 2 - Sunday 23 May 2010

Photos taken by Robert Cunningham & Mark Dermul.

After breakfast and a visit to the bank to get hold of some much needed Dinars, we set off for El Jem. This ancient city is built around a Colosseum, 148 meters long and 122 meters wide, making it the third largest colosseum in the world (after Rome and Capua). Much smaller than its famous counterpart in Rome, it was used as the arena for Ridley Scott’s 2000 blockbuster movie Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe. Needless to say it took some serious special effects work to make it look like Rome. But I’m sure many people believe it was actually shot in Rome, so the filmmakers did a good job.

On to Kairouan then, the fourth most important holy city to the Muslims, after Mekka, Medina and Jerusalem. The name means ‘caravan’ in Arabic and the city, founded in 671, was Tunisia’s capital for a very long time. Lucas & Co dropped the ‘uan’ from the name, so to speak, and had the city streets dub for those of the Egyptian capital Cairo in the original Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark. We had our veritable own Dr Jones with us – Colin from the UK – who had done some extensive research in years past and gave us a wonderful tour of the old city, pointing out various filming locations and even acting them out for photographic purposes.

We found the door that Marion jumped into to come out with a frying pan and hit the Touareg over the head with, as well as the square where the truck explodes. We found several alleys that can be seen in the basket chase and the café where Indy is saved by the children. There is the balcony where the German spies conspire against our hero and the souk where Marion and Indy go for a walk. Some of the details (like the blue door where the German spy smokes his cigarette) are exactly the same as over thirty years ago. Amazing!

We then boarded our landspeeders for the longest drive yet. Five hours all the way to Tozeur, where we enjoyed a wonderful meal and way too many alcoholic beverages. The party lasted longer than anticipated.

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