Wow… where to begin.
As I write this I am sitting in a cave in a massive hole in the ground called Sidi Driss. Luke Skywalker grew up here. Really.
As I wrote below, we got up very early to catch the 0600 train to Sousse. It was a beautiful 2 hour ride from the far northern part of XXXXX to the central, east coast. Watched the sun rise over the olive groves. A funny thing happened on the way to Sousse. On this very bouncy, crowded train, B went up to get some coffee for himself and me. On his way back to my seat, the train lurched just as he was about to hand me the coffee, and he ended up dumping all over this poor arabic woman in the seat in front of me. B and I apologized as best we could, while trying to stifle a laugh since Cam was sitting beside me busting up. Poor lady.
Anyhow, in Sousse we met up with CJ, another worker, and rented a small car to take us into the desert. It was a very tight squeeze, with 5 of us and our luggage. Sousse is cool, like a resort town on the ocean, very western, and far removed from the craziness of XXXXX.
We headed south, through a billion olive trees on our way to El Jem, an awesome Roman Colliseum ruin, in the middle of nowhere. I bought some Coke bottles (to fill with sand from the Sahara) and a headress (see photo!) and handed out a few Jesus films and a bible. Ate lunch in Sfax and continued our journey down to Matmata. The landscape continued to get more and more desolate, until we crested some ridge just north of Matmata and suddenly we were surrounded by this beautiful desert landscape (see photo on the left). In these sandy and rocky hills live the Berber people, many of them in cave homes they carve out of the side of the hills. I think they call them troglodyte homes.
Anyhow, we found hotel Sidi Driss, which is an large, ancient cave-type dwelling like what some of the indiginous people of this area actually live in. It was essentially 4 or 5 huge pits (maybe 30 feet deep, 50-70 feet across) in the ground, connected by tunnels, and with cave rooms facing out into the courtyard of each pit. They turned it into a hotel at some point, and in the mid-70’s it was discovered by George Lucas and they made one of the pits into the Lars family homestead, where Luke Skywalker grew up. Anyhow, words just don’t do this place justice so here’s several photos:
Well, after checking in we decided to drive around and try to find some nice Berber family who would let us tour their cave home. The Lonely Planet guide book said this was the best way to experience how these people live (I’d say spending the night at Sidi Driss runs a close second!). Anyhow, we paid some old woman 5 dinar to see her home and take her photo. It’s amazing how little one can live on, but yet not want for anything. A couple goats, a donkey and a hole in the ground is all that is really needed in this part of the world. After returning to Sidi Driss, we ate cous cous (probably the 4th day in a row eating this for supper) and tried to go to bed. Too hot and stale in the caves, so we drug the beds into the courtyard and slept under the stars. Very tired…