844 days, 20,256 hours, 1,215,360 minutes, or 72,921,600 seconds. That is the approximate duration of my world tour. I never wanted it to end and now, in a manner of speaking, I suppose it never has to. If you wish to go by country do so by clicking on one above. They are numbered in the order I visited them, more or less. If you enjoy reading about it even a tenth as much as I enjoyed living it then you will not have wasted your time. Grab a refreshing beverage, settle in a comfortable chair, and make a journey across the world, experiencing it as I did. Then get off your ass and check it out for yourself. You're not getting any younger.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jedi Living (Luke Skywalker's Crib - Matmata, Tunisia)

[Author's Note: I arrived in Tunis on September 10th, 2010 and left two months later. The Arab Spring began in Tunisia on December 18th, 2010, a day after the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi. I missed the festivities by about a month or so. Some would say I dodged a bullet but I cannot help feeling like I missed the boat. How often do you have the chance to watch history unfold from the front row? It is interesting for me to go back and read about my experiences at the time. Yes, I could almost taste repression in the air but if you told me the powder keg was about to ignite I would have been incredulous in the extreme. Yet, there it was boiling just beneath the surface. Keep this in mind when reading my Tunisia posts. It makes for a fascinating subtext.]

Oct 9th, 2010 - Although our time at Ksar Ghilane was disappointing I believe it possible to make a trip there worthwhile. Renting your own vehicle from Gabes, finding accommodation closer to the dunes, checking out the sunset/rise, and splurging on a two hour horsey ride into the ocean of sand would all be trip enhancers. I am going to see about getting a visa into Libya but if it falls through I may give southern Tunisia another go.

So we left the oasis fairly early the next morning (our driver apparently had shit to do) and made our way to the town of Matmata. The tourist hordes descend upon this small town for two reasons: to take a peek at the famous troglodyte homes and follow in the footsteps of the world's most famous Jedi.

The 
Berbers that settled this area took environmental adaptation to a whole other level and built underground homes that provided shelter from the desert inferno. Resembling bomb craters these dwellings would probably be overlooked if you did not know they were there. Not far from Matmata we stopped at one of these subterranean abodes, had some tea, and then a look around. There is a certain 'human zoo' type awkwardness to such visits but I will say it is worth a look. And, in the end, it does provide a much needed source of income for the locals. 





Ok, cue the kitten, the sheep, and the woman grinding millet aaaaaaaaand, "Action!!"


"I love you so much I could just...just....SQUEEZEYOURF***INGHEADOFF!!!!!  ARRRRRGH.....


And if that is not enough you can also bed down in a hotel modeled on the same design. You'd be a complete asshole not to do so. Phil and I bid farewell to our driver after finding a nice cozy subterranean dwelling (Hotel Marhala). In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, 'There ain't no place like a hole in the ground'. 



We let a gentleman peddling short day trips to the surrounding area talk us into hiring a car and driver for a short excursion to the village of Toujane. It is there I have read you can find interesting Berber architecture to include stone houses and an old kasbah. I am sure it is lovely. I wouldn't know because I never went. Our driver never showed up, that is until the guy we organized the trip through saw us returning from lunch and called him. By then our motivation had all but disappeared.

Our dejection led us directly to nap time. Phil was still recovering from a bout of food poisoning and I had not really slept all that well myself the previous evening. Unfortunately, my slumber was soon interrupted by the din of giddy tourists checking out nearby rooms. I emerged from our cave to discover a father slowly entering a room with a video camera to the delight of his teenage children. This image was punctuated by the conveyer belt of tourists pouring off the buses into our hotel. It was just neato [insert derisive sarcastic tone here]. And although it would have been inexcusably petulant I had every desire to walk around sans pants while drooling and scratching my naughty region. It just felt like the thing to do. Would that be wrong? Sure. But, more importantly, would that be funny? Definitely.

Recognizing the futility of trying to snooze I grabbed my pack and went for a stroll. As I left the hotel I noticed a small hill nearby with a rocky plateau that appeared to provide a decent view of the area. My stroll turned into a short hike. It was a good call as the view was excellent and the breeze on top brisk and refreshing. 







I can't be sure but I think this is the face I make when I am constipated.







After my hike it was time to go to Luke's house. I'd grown up with Luke but had never actually visited his home. It was high time I rectified this. By Luke I am of course referring to Luke Skywalker and by home I am referring to the Hotel Sidi Driss. This is where scenes from 
Star Wars: Episode IV and Star Wars: Episode II were shot. This is the location where Luke dined with his aunt and uncle while discussing their new droids and his future. It is also where young Aniken visited younger versions of Luke's aunt and uncle. Yes, I realize that it is a bit cheesy but I still could not contain my giddiness at being in Luke's house. The problem is I fucking love Star Wars, especially the originals. Love it. When I was a kid those movies blew my socks off. I could shit myself just sifting through the nostalgia. George Lucas may be a consummate douche packer in real life but he really knew how to capture people's imagination, at least with first series. And just to emphasize the surreal nature of my visit I had a few beers from the hotel bar. Not very Jedi-like but damn entertaining.  Obi-Wan would be disappointed.


I have read that the bar seen from the first Star Wars film was also shot here but it was difficult to see how this is possible as the bar area is extremely small. It must have been all about camera angles. I will be forced to view Episode IV for the 1,210,596th time in order to be sure. Gosh, I sure am cool. If you really want to hit the "Balls To The Wall" setting on the Dork-o-meter check out Wookieepedia.
Phil and I discussed the possibility of renting a car and visiting the surrounding area but in the end decided to move on to the island of Djerba instead. It is a shame because I believe there are some interesting sites nearby but neither of us had the energy to negotiate transport hire. Our patience was wearing thin. The force was most definitely not with us. I'm sorry Obi-Wan.

'Who's the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him? 

This is a picture of Luke Skywalker's house from outer space. Outer space!! You could tell me that's not cool but you be a f***ing liar. From outer space. 
Get it? Awesome.

Without the arrow who know's where you'd end up. Dagobah? 
Nothing screams authenticity like a Star Wars beach towel hanging on the wall.







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'Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference.' -- Libbie Fudim