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We came home in the late evening of Monday, July 14, from our one-week-vacation in Djerba (the local spelling is Jerba), a small Tunisian island in the Mediterranean Sea. We enjoyed it very much, the weather was wonderful  - we already told those who had been in contact with us at that time about the temperatures and the sandy beach ... (For those among you who get excited about weather statistics: maximum temperatures during daytime: 32 to 38 centigrade; nighttime about 25 centigrade; rainy days in July: 0; i.e. zero!)

 

On Wednesday, we joined a one day tour of about 400 kilometers to the continent and visited a few places in southern Tunisia, where the Sahara desert begins.

 

The first stop was in Medenine, where we saw an ancient storage house, which was not used for that purpose anymore. Their way of building those fortress-like places (called "Ksours") where they collected (and defended) food and water supplies for times of need was quite unusual and difficult to describe. From the inside, the construction looks like two layers of giant pottery vases lying on the floor and arranged in a circle. Their openings are all pointing to the center, an open air place with a diameter of an estimated 25 or 30 meters. From the outside, you only see the walls which resemble our ancient city walls, but all painted white for heat protection. Nowadays, the individual cells are used for souvenir shops (tourism is one of the most important sources of income). The "second floor cells" are mostly empty, but used by the shop owners as "siesta" rooms.

Near Matmata, our bus entered a parking place and we had to ride camels in order to reach the next location, the dwelling place of a native Berber family. Again, we came to know very unusual housing conditions. The family lives underground, with an open air center area (a 6 or 7 meter deep round hole in the ground) and from there the individual "rooms" are dug to all sides into the stone. Our tour guide was telling us that the hottest day temperatures in this area are up to 60 degrees Celsius, and we experienced about 42 that day, which was "cool" for that time of the year. We had lunch in Matmata, a cave hotel which consists of a labyrinth of several of those deep holes with "rooms" to all sides.

Maybe this description sounds a bit strange, but it is definitely worth seing. The science fiction fans among you may still recall the habitation of Yedi Yoda - here those scenes have been filmed.

On our way back, we visited the oasis in Gabes. On horse carriages we took a 35 minute tour through the oasis where mainly dates, pomegranates and henna (the natural red for colouring hair, cloth or wool) are cultivated, most of it for export.

After taking the ferry boat back to Djerba, we drove through the most beautiful area in the middle of the island as the sun set in the late afternoon: The way from El May to Midoun with lots of palm trees, agaves, cactii and the typical white dome roof houses.

A week is short, and of course we saw a few other things, like an ancient synagoge and the carpet bazar, but this one-day trip was most impressive for us. Hopefully it was also of some interest for you.

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