David's Diary: Sunday, December 1, 2002

Tunisian Desert Trip Begins

Louage
Sharing a Louage

A trip to Tunisia would not be complete without a trip to the desert. We left today on a six-day trip to the south. We were up just after first light with our friends from the sailboat Ganymede. Tony and Maggie's son Alistair and his girlfriend Jill are visiting Monastir and this seemed a prefect excuse to head off towards the desert. We hauled our luggage through the empty streets to catch the first train of the morning.

After waiting at a deserted train crossing on the outskirts of Sousse for an hour, we boarded the train to Gabes. We settled in for the three-hour ride and watched as olive groves passed us by. We went through the town of El Jem where we could see the Roman amphitheatre. The amphitheatre could seat 30,000 and is almost as large as the coliseum in Rome. The train continued along the single track until we came to the end of the line at Gabes.

Typical Troglodyte Dwelling
Typical Troglodyte Dwelling (our hotel room was on the left)

We only stopped in the industrial town long enough to have lunch before finding a Louage to take us on the next part of our journey. Our goal for the day was the village of Matmata. We planned to spend the night in a troglodyte cave which also doubled as a hotel room.

Matmata at Sunset
Matmata at Sunset

We arrived as the sun was setting. In the remaining daylight we took a walk into the hills around Matmata and looked down at the ancient village below us. As the last daylight faded we made our way back to the hotel for a traditional Berber meal before settling in to our surprisingly warm hotel room.

We have more pictures of Matmata on our pictures Web page. Select the link below to view the pictures then use your brower's back button to return here when you are finished.

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