Published: May 1st 2012May 1st 2012
Tunisia! The place from which so much of the visual imagery of Star Wars came. The Sahara Desert. Ancient Troglodyte homes. The Ksars (ancient granaries that later became stacked stronghold desert villages). Phoenician and Roman ruins. And more shades of blue on the Mediterranean coast than one could possibly imagine!
But to get from the airport to the start of our weeklong adventure was about to become quite a challenge. A challenge that would only be smoothed out by the incredibly helpful people of Tunisia.
With the best of advice from the Carthage International Airport Information Desk, we hopped on a public bus, bound for the train station.
Whoops, the wrong train station. With the helpful advice of a gaggle of young men outside that train station we set of on foot - with bags - on the 15 minute walk to the right train station.
Ah! Drop of the bags at left luggage - what a relief!
We walk up to the counter to inquire into train tickets to the town of Tozeur, far to the south, on the edge of the Sahara. It quickly
becomes clear that there are no trains going there currently - ‘grave problem’ being the only thing I understood of the conversation in French between Susie, my traveling companion, and the train employee. Hmmmm!
The people behind us in line, explain in English that we would need to take the bus. And got us started in the right direction for the 20 minute walk to the bus station. At least we weren’t dragging our bags along with us anymore!
We stopped and confirmed direction several times along the way. The locals were always so very helpful. One even pulled up our current location and the bus station location on his iPhone for us! As we approached what sure looked like the bus station, we confirmed one last time - this time with a distinguished elderly police officer who walked us across the street and set us on our way.
Arrival - the bus station! The buses are running! We bought tickets! And as walked past that same distinguished elderly police officer, he stopped us to be certain that everything was right with the world. And it was!
stop, internet cafe so we could let the travel agency that was meeting us in Tozeur know of the change in our arrival time - plus the fact that we would be on a bus!
That evening we settle in on the bus, I set an alarm for 3:45 am as we’re supposed to arrive in Tozeur at 4:00 am, and the light sleep of a bus trip settles down upon us.
I wake up shortly before 3:00 am and wonder if I just saw a sign that said Tozeur as the bus pulls out of a town. I stumble up the aisle to the driver, mumble Tozeur, and he loudly begins proclaiming something that sure seems like ‘we just left Tozeur’. In Arabic. Not that I understand Arabic! But the strength of his declaration and the way he kept throwing his arm back over his shoulder to where we came from . . . well it seemed pretty obvious!
What do we do now?
He gets on his mobile phone, talks to someone. I trust. A few minutes later, he’s flashing his lights at the approaching vehicle
and slowing down. The approaching vehicle is a bus. From the same company as this bus! And its slowing down too! Thats when I figure it out. He’s going to get us on that bus! Back to Tozeur!
I run back down the aisle, wake up Susie. We toss backpacks and bags over our shoulders and scramble!
Onto the other bus.
And arrive in Tozeur shortly after 3 am!
Now, to the hotel!
This isn’t that big of a town. Its 3 am. The taxi driver is probably sound asleep in his own bed in his own house. Hmmmm!
A fellow passenger takes off, walking to his home I must assume, and calls something over his shoulder that I hope means he’ll get us a taxi.
We sit down in front of the station and start to wait. For . . . . something . . . . . we hope!
At least its not
so big of a town. So the bus station is not your typical big city seedy bus station!
And . . . . the police pull up! A brief but positive conversation in French between the police and Susie and we’re getting into the back of the police van. I assume this is good. Because if it isn’t, its bad!
And good it is! We have our own ‘special taxi’, courtesy of the Tozeur Police Department!
We stumble into the hotel around 4 am and all is well with the world! We’re on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Now, the adventure beings . . . .
There are more photos below