We arrived at the city of Douz past midnight the day we left the ferry. I already lost my sense of time and date, which is what I wanted. I gazed at the stars, which shimmered like a million diamonds.
‘Camping under the stars! It’s been four months since my last camp’. I looked around at my new neighbors, who just as eagerly set up their quarters. My tent is one of those pop-up tents, set up easily, but twisting them into a disc takes some practice. Thank you Lore for showing me patiently every morning.
I saw Claudio carrying a big pot of water to his outdoor cooker.
‘It’s never too late for pasta’ he smiled at me. Of course, it isn’t.
There was a clear sense of relief within this equipe, we have finally reached our starting point in the south-eastern corner of Tunisia.
I don’t think that many people knew each other before from previous excursions.
Father and son duo Giovanni and Nicolai from Sicily joined for the first time, but not for the last time, they said later.
There were 4 father and son/daughter combinations, a young mix to the old explorers.
Nice. I am not the youngest on this trip.
Finally, I heard the two important words, I hadn’t heard for 4 years.
‘Ben! Spritz?’ One bottle of Campari and two bottles of bubblies fit perfectly in this 5-liter jug. Fede’s Italian accent from 4 years ago was still ringing in my ears. Salute. Claudio’s voice is not as sexy.
There is a really nice atmosphere within this group, all have waited for this moment for months. Everyone is (too) busy working or studying under society’s rule.
Apart from myself.
And Loredana. We are also the only two adults that won’t be driving. She was really happy that I came on this trip, she said. The pleasure is all mine.
The fact that Lore and Ago knew me already, gave me a head start toward my Zambia experience in 2018.
The only none Italian and why is he in Claudio’s car? Nobody really knew anything about me and how and where to fit in. Then there is the language barrier of asking me directly. All youngsters spoke good English and translated for the elders.
But this experience wasn’t about me, it was about all of us.
Team spirit is the most important factor in a successful and enjoyable experience altogether.
It will be interesting to see, how it pans out over the next few days. The early twenties group found each other quickly and had much to talk about. The over-fifties group found each other too, it’s a promising start.
The nearby mosque praised the Muslim community very, very early morning. A sudden reminder, that we are within different cultural barriers.
Exploring cultures and interacting with locals is just the best thing on foreign travels. Any travels.
It’s not hard either, because all you have to do is smile. ‘Bon jour’ is French for good morning, EVERYONE knows that!
Martina joined me for a stroll in the date palm forest.
Off course I had my camera at hand, the blue skies beyond the trees added a lot of colors to the photo.
This is a big income for local farmers, which were a little surprised to see us strolling through.
Smile and wave! ‘Bonjour! Ca Va?’
We had a date. In the dating forest! How good is that?
Her English is pretty good and we were able to have a decent conversation about our lives.
She studies psychology and will move on to criminology afterward. I take my hat up to you Martina. Studying 6 years+ to work out why this world has gone crazy, that’s what I call ambition. At least she found her dream car already.
Back at camp, we were hoping to jump in the cars and get going. Andiamo, por favor!
Douz is the last point of civilization for the next 8 days and final preparations are vital.
Not only for fuel and water but also fresh vegetables for our pasta and risotto dishes.
But that wasn’t the case. Far from it actually.
We waited for a few more hours. I could have gone for another excursion but didn’t want to be the one, that delays our departure. How long does it take to fill up the car with diesel though?
And this is the breakdown of this adventure; Waiting.
Lingering was the major factor on this trip.
No one knew when we move on, because when it was time to move on, you had maybe 5 minutes to be ready. Good that I knew how to entertain myself. I was relieved when we finally left Douz around lunchtime, Andiamo.
I get the feeling that my patience will be tested on this tour. But I really can’t complain.
Without Claudio, I wouldn’t be here in the first place,