You can visit Tatooine
I received a text from Tunisia a couple of days ago.
A young Tunisian I met two years ago on a train to Gabe, Tunisia, reached out to me.
Tunisia is where the imaginary planet of Tatooine was filmed for Star Wars.
In the far south of Tunisia is a small town called Tatooine and in an unusual move for a movie, they decided to use the town’s name for the planet.
When I visited Tunisia to speak with a small group of Tunisian entrepreneurs, I was so excited to travel south and see the land of Luke Skywalker’s birth.
The tourism industry in Tunisia is not well developed. Tatooine is not easy to get to. It is 150 miles from the Sahara desert and only 100 miles from the “Libyan Frontier” as they called.
The main industry seemed to be sneaking across the Libyan border, tapping a pipeline and bringing Libyan gas across the border and sell it for 25% of the locale price. They drive into the desert, out of sight of the highway, then get back on the roads and load up their tanks.
To get to Tatooine, I took a train from Tunis to Sfax then to Gabe.
Not long after we left Tunis, the sun sank and everything outside the train was pitch black. As we went from town to town, I had only a very general idea if I was getting close to my destination. Unfortunately, I can not read Arabic.
So the train would stop. I’d look for the town’s name and see Arabic script.
So I tapped the shoulder of the young man sitting in front of me. Showing him my map on my iPad, I asked if we were close to Gabe. He spoke briefly with me in English, explaining we had two more stops. Then he turned back to his laptop.
The next thing I knew, he has turned back around and asked me if I would mind if he practiced his English with me.
Forty-five minutes later, after engaging conversation about what Tunisia is like, what Canada is like, where I was going, what he was studying, we arrived in Gabe.
I had reserved an AirBNB there, but when I arrived, no one was there to meet me. My new friend wasn’t leaving me until he knew I was safely on my way.
He made a call to my host. No answer.
He stopped a local cab, and after a brief discussion, we decided that staying at a nearby hotel would be better than looking for my missing AirBNB host. He gave the driver instructions in Arabic, bid me adieu and I was off to a good night’s sleep.
So two years later, he is on the same train to Gabe, and was thinking of me and texted me to see how I was.
We live in a small world!
From Gabe it is a 3 hour van ride to Tatooine.
Douiret is a ruined Berber village in the Tatooine district in southern Tunisia. Located on a hilltop near a modern village of the same name, Douiret was a fortified granary, or ksar Like other ksour created by North African Berber communities, Douiret was built on a hilltop to help protect it from raiding parties
Ghomrassen is a city of southeast Tunisia located 16 miles from Tatooine and 40 kilometers from Medenine. Administratively attached to Tatouine, it is a Municipality of 11383 inhabitants.
Ksar Ouled Soltane is a fortified granary, or ksar, located in the Tatooine district in southern Tunisia. The ksar is spread out over two courtyards, each of which has a perimeter of multi-story vaulted granary cellars, or ghorfas.
Like many countries, Tunisia gets a rougher opinion than it is. The tourism infrastructure is nowhere near that of Hawaii or Rome, but the ancient Roman ruins are amazing and you have room to stretch your arms without hitting another tourist.
Well worth the effort to see.
About Scott Paton
Scott has been totally irresponsible ever since the last of his two sons left home and he realized he was an empty nester, having no responsibilities for the first time since his early twenties when he took off for Australia. Scott flew to Morocco, wandering through Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Three years later, he shows no inclination to return to a respectable, responsible life. He prefers Star Trek over Star Wars, Superman over Ironman, reading over video games and traveling over a rocking chair.