Day 5 - Wednesday 26 May 2010

Photos by Robert Cunningham & Mark Dermul.

We got up early today, because we were going to be treated to something that any visitor of this country should try at least once: a veritable ride on a camel. Apparently Terry’s memory was a little dysfunctional as he told the Pioneers it was only ten minutes out to the old Roman fort and then ten minutes back, so everybody was looking forward to this eagerly. In reality, the fort was an hour away, meaning two solid hours on the backs of these beautiful if somewhat uncomfortable desert animals. Robert, our American loaded with cameras like you wouldn’t believe, was rather unfortunate as he almost slid down the back of his ride, holding on for dear life. While we didn’t mean to, we couldn’t but burst out in laughter. It’s like when you see somebody trip and fall. You simply cannot resist the urge to laugh. Poor chap. Thank the Maker he didn’t bust his camera right then and there.

The Roman fort is somewhat impressive because of its old age, but nothing much is left except some stone walls. So after only half an hour of exploring, we got back onto our rides to return to the oasis of Ksar Ghilane. After a quick shower, we jumped into the jeeps and set out for Ksar Haddada.

The hotel of Ksar Haddada was originally used for the scene between Qui-Gon Jinn and Shmi Skywalker when they talk about Anakin’s parentage. ‘There is no father’, remember? A large sign outside the hotel reminds fans of the shoot in July 1997. The set looked great in 2003, but renovation of the hotel was already underway in 2005 and today it’s nearly complete, making it hard to imagine where the scene was shot. Having said that, two of the original windows and entrances can still be seen, but the rest looks pretty different now. The hotel, still not open for business except for the bar, looks wonderful indeed. They have made quite a few impressive changes. So much the better for the tourists, so much the worse for Star Wars fans…

 After leaving Ksar Haddada behind us we drove to Tataouine to drop of our bags at the Jawhara Hotel. Tataouine truly has nothing to offer Star Wars fans, except the name. There are no sets there, the city is noisy, dirty and very hot. 

After refreshing ourselves we took off for Ksar Ouled Soltane, a wonderful ghorfa (grain storage facility) that – according to legend – was used to CGI into the background of some of the Slave Quarters shots in Episode I. It’s in great shape and a nice place to relax a little with some local tea. The janitor is something of an artist, making aquarelle paintings of the Ksar and other typical Tunisian locales. Quite a few of us purchased some of these and Robert – self-proclaimed art nut – even got the big one and had every Pioneer sign it. Nice!


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