Matmata Tataouine:  Tunisia

Star Wars Earth Base

Tatooine on Earth
Berber inhabitants of ksar Douiret gaze at the extraterrestrial scenery of the surrounding desert during a sandstorm.
The Strength vs The Class
Tunisian in a tuxedo crosses the Sidi Driss hotel, out of step with the intergalactic look inherited from the décor of the Lars family property on the planet Tatooine.
In a troglodyte background
Hotel employee Sidi Driss crosses one of the establishment's many troglodyte ditches, earthy as ever from recent rains.
Fortified Heights of Douiret
The steep hill on which the Ksar Douiret settled, one of many on the outskirts of Tataouine, (the village with the name adapted by George Lucas).
sunny rest
Berber woman rests at the entrance of one of the troglodyte compartments of the Sidi Driss hotel used to serve meals to guests.
Berber clones
Berber elders in traditional jelabas line up and confront each other during a cultural exhibition at the Festival of the Ksours
The Force (of arms)
A worker loaded with a beverage rack crosses the courtyard of the troglodyte moat that the Sidi Driss hotel has turned into a restaurant.
earthen army
An entourage of Berber elders descends a desert slope on the outskirts of Tataouine.
An Extraterrestrial Scene
Eccentric landscape of plateaus and sky tinted red by sandstorms in the Sahara desert, south of Tataouine.
For security reasons, the planet Tatooine from "The Force Awakens" was filmed in Abu Dhabi. We step back into the cosmic calendar and revisit some of the Tunisian places with the most impact in the saga.  

We stroll through the heart of the Lars family moisture-producing farm.

We found no sign of Luke Skywalker or any other member of the vast clan that had long inhabited these imaginary places.

It's real humans – both native and resident and from afar – the ones we see around and at the bottom of the many caves dug in the sandy soil southeast of the oasis of Gabes, not in the imaginary Great Salt Flat of Chott, nor in the wastelands and fictitious pictures of Jundland.

It was also only on screen that this farm Luke Skywalker grew up on until he was 19, raised by Owen and Beru, was burned by the Galactic Empire when his army sought the droids C-3PO and R2-D2.

We are in Matmata, a real troglodyte city that is now Tunisian and where, as thousands of years ago, more than 6.000 earthlings use these concavities as their homes, silos, warehouses and even businesses.

The Terran and Tunisian Lair of Matmata

We circle around five round ditches. We peek inside with extra care to avoid falling to the bottom. These days, the complex filmed as the Lars' home is Sidi Driss' hotel.

Four of these pits house Spartan rooms. The fifth is a restaurant. It houses and serves travelers who are enthusiastic about the eccentricity of the establishment and the region's scenery, in particular by those selected by the team. George Lucas to illustrate Tatooine, the first planet in the Tatoo binary solar system.

A star far drier and more peculiar than the landscape that inspired it.

The base of this fourth clayey hole is whitewashed and painted in indigo. It has windows and ogival or round doors distributed around the circumference. We heard muffled screams coming from one to another.

Nothing to match the sound of the Star Wars protagonist's laser saber or the futuristic weapons with which their enemies and allies clashed.

Reality Now Only Sidi Driss's Restaurant

Instead, waiters fight against time and bosses. They cross the earthy courtyard late and hurriedly, with trays full of food and drink. Or, in the opposite sense, the dishes that accommodated them.

The absence of references in the saga is, however, far from being total. A white vent retains a gold disk with a spatial design. Several door frames preserve strange modular grooves. Both items were inherited from the footage.

After the first movie “A new hope”, the entire decor has been removed. In 2000, the sequel “Attack of the clones” forced the reconstruction of a large part.

Today, whether they are fans or not, guests or visitors to the hotel have lunch or dinner with a feeling even the slightest part of being part of the saga. As we see it happening again and again, they photograph themselves emulating the most emblematic scenes of the sidereal epic.

The Obsessive Cult of Star Wars Fans

As Raisha, a local guide, tells us, some of her addicts are not content with so little: “Some time ago, we learned around here that a group has created a fund to recover the exterior of the Lars' farm! They collected almost 15 thousand dollars!” she informs us, incredulous at the exorbitant value that that lost igloo in a desert nowhere in Chott El Jerid deserved.

The igloo was destroyed after the filming of the first trilogy, rebuilt for the “Attack of the clones"and "The Sith Revenge” and, therefore, abandoned to erosion.

“Not only did they raise the money, but five or six rescuer friends came here on tour. They only came back after rebuilding it.

Later, they presented the project, all happy, in Germany, part of some ephemeris of the “Star Wars” and even released a book describing everything.”

From Matmata to Tataouine. And from Tataouine to Star Wars Tatouine

We take advantage of the relative proximity. The next day, we'll go to Tataouine where a Tunisia's emblematic ethnic and cultural festival, the Ksour. When we arrived, the area was under a sandstorm. It remained surrounded by a somewhat Martian, ocher, dusty atmosphere, much more humid than is supposed to be in a desert.

George Lucas and his collaborators may not have been so lucky – or unlucky, depending on your point of view – anyway, Tataouine's extraterrestrial scenarios inspired the director in such a way that he borrowed his name for the saga.

The name and not only.

On a visit to the outskirts of the city, the unexpected sight of the ksour, fortified barns of compact sand. We admire them projected from the ground, divided into several ghorfas (store cells) turned out to be perfect models for the slave wing of the Mos Espa spaceport, home of Anakin and Shmi Skywalker, prominently featured in the first episode, “The Phantom Menace".

A historic landmark written in rhodes (one of several pretending dialects of conflicting peoples) proclaimed at the entrance to this obscure modular place: “We forged this city under the heat of twin suns, in memory of our ancestors, in honor of our living clans and for the hope of our unborn children.”

The Berber and Desert Atmosphere that Inspired the Star Wars Scenarios

The Berbers of Tataouine are not given to advertising such pompous writings. When we enter Ksar Ouled Soultane, a politician from Tunis visits and the elders of different tribes participate in a banquet.

In a real dimension, terrestrial and strongly photogenic, its mere presence takes on a symbolism similar to that of the Mos Espa landmark.

We observe the secular and exotic beauty of its white jilabas, yellowed by time. We wonder if, with a certain Japanese influence (from the kimonos) to the mix, they would not have illuminated the creation of several of the garments sui generis of Star Wars.

In the last days of this tour, we moved to the Mediterranean island of Djerba, the largest off North Africa, where Ulysses and his companions from the Odyssey are said to have landed. And that the last ones didn't want to leave anymore, delighted with that kind of floating oasis and its endless succulent fruits.

In Djerba, we let ourselves get lost in the alleys and bustling market of the capital Houmt Souk. Around us, we pass rural villages embellished by countless menzels, traditional houses, partly vaulted, surrounded by olive and palm trees, in the style of a Berber Alentejo hill.

While investigating this other stronghold in Tunisia, George Lucas and his team noticed – as we also noticed – the abundance of donkeys that the peasants and fishermen carried with a bit of everything.

Now, it was no coincidence that Tatooine's pack animal of choice was named jerba. As eccentric as they were useful, these creatures had long, shaggy fur. They provided milk, leather and its fur. They were created by the far more bizarre Pacithhips. And by Swilla Corey, a part-time pickpocketing, slave-born, blonde human.

In Djerba, we still peek at the building that gave rise to Obi-Wan Kenobi's retreat hut and others used in scenes set in Mos Eisley, a second spaceport that deserved Obi-Wan Kenobi's warning that Luke Skywalker “would never find a den most despicable of scum and villains”.

The real Djerba leaves in our minds a contrary image, of honesty, tranquility and harmony.

Restrained fans as we always were, by this time, we appreciated better than ever the perverse wealth of George Lucas' imagination.

We were well aware that Earth was one thing, Tatooine was another.

Chefchouen to Merzouga, Morocco

Morocco from Top to Bottom

From the aniseed alleys of Chefchaouen to the first dunes of the Sahara, Morocco reveals the sharp contrasts of the first African lands, as Iberia has always seen in this vast Maghreb kingdom.
Tataouine, Tunisia

Festival of the Ksour: Sand Castles That Don't Collapse

The ksour were built as fortifications by the Berbers of North Africa. They resisted Arab invasions and centuries of erosion. Every year, the Festival of the Ksour pays them the due homage.
hippopotami, chobe national park, botswana
Chobe NP, Botswana

Chobe: A River on the Border of Life with Death

Chobe marks the divide between Botswana and three of its neighboring countries, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. But its capricious bed has a far more crucial function than this political delimitation.
Braga or Braka or Brakra in Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 6th – Braga, Nepal

The Ancient Nepal of Braga

Four days of walking later, we slept at 3.519 meters from Braga (Braka). Upon arrival, only the name is familiar to us. Faced with the mystical charm of the town, arranged around one of the oldest and most revered Buddhist monasteries on the Annapurna circuit, we continued our journey there. acclimatization with ascent to Ice Lake (4620m).
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Architecture & Design
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
lagoons and fumaroles, volcanoes, PN tongariro, new zealand
Tongariro, New Zealand

The Volcanoes of All Discords

In the late XNUMXth century, an indigenous chief ceded the PN Tongariro volcanoes to the British crown. Today, a significant part of the Maori people claim their mountains of fire from European settlers.
Indigenous Crowned
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

Behind the Venezuela Andes. Fiesta Time.

In 1619, the authorities of Mérida dictated the settlement of the surrounding territory. The order resulted in 19 remote villages that we found dedicated to commemorations with caretos and local pauliteiros.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
Singapore Asian Capital Food, Basmati Bismi

The Asian Food Capital

There were 4 ethnic groups in Singapore, each with its own culinary tradition. Added to this was the influence of thousands of immigrants and expatriates on an island with half the area of ​​London. It was the nation with the greatest gastronomic diversity in the Orient.
Apia, Western Samoa

Fia Fia – High Rotation Polynesian Folklore

From New Zealand to Easter Island and from here to Hawaii, there are many variations of Polynesian dances. Fia Fia's Samoan nights, in particular, are enlivened by one of the more fast-paced styles.
combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

Banned in much of the First World, cockfighting thrives in the Philippines where they move millions of people and pesos. Despite its eternal problems, it is the sabong that most stimulates the nation.
Africa Princess, Canhambaque, Bijagós, Guinea Bissau,
Africa Princess Cruise, 1º Bijagos, Guinea Bissau

Towards Canhambaque, through the History of Guinea Bissau

The Africa Princess departs from the port of Bissau, downstream the Geba estuary. We make a first stopover on the island of Bolama. From the old capital, we proceed to the heart of the Bijagós archipelago.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Sunset, Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio

days like so many others

Selfie, Wall of China, Badaling, China
Badaling, China

The Sino Invasion of the Great Wall of China

With the arrival of the hot days, hordes of Han visitors take over the Great Wall of China, the largest man-made structure. They go back to the era of imperial dynasties and celebrate the nation's newfound prominence.
Bather, The Baths, Devil's Bay (The Baths) National Park, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Virgin Gorda's Divine “Caribbaths”

Discovering the Virgin Islands, we disembark on a tropical and seductive seaside dotted with huge granite boulders. The Baths seem straight out of the Seychelles but they are one of the most exuberant marine scenery in the Caribbean.
Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox
Winter White
Lapland, Finland

In Search of the Fire Fox

Unique to the heights of the Earth are the northern or southern auroras, light phenomena generated by solar explosions. You Sami natives from Lapland they believed it to be a fiery fox that spread sparkles in the sky. Whatever they are, not even the nearly 30 degrees below zero that were felt in the far north of Finland could deter us from admiring them.
Lake Manyara, National Park, Ernest Hemingway, Giraffes
Lake Manyara NP, Tanzania

Hemingway's Favorite Africa

Situated on the western edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the smallest but charming and richest in Europe. wild life of Tanzania. In 1933, between hunting and literary discussions, Ernest Hemingway dedicated a month of his troubled life to him. He narrated those adventurous safari days in “The Green Hills of Africa".
Estancia Harberton, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

A Farm at the End of the World

In 1886, Thomas Bridges, an English orphan taken by his missionary foster family to the farthest reaches of the southern hemisphere, founded the ancient homestead of Tierra del Fuego. Bridges and the descendants surrendered to the end of the world. today, your Estancia harberton it is a stunning Argentine monument to human determination and resilience.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Hippopotamus in Anôr Lagoon, Orango Island, Bijagós, Guinea Bissau
Natural Parks
Kéré Island to Orango, Bijagos, Guinea Bissau

In Search of the Lacustrine-Marine and Sacred Bijagós Hippos

They are the most lethal mammals in Africa and, in the Bijagós archipelago, preserved and venerated. Due to our particular admiration, we joined an expedition in their quest. Departing from the island of Kéré and ending up inland from Orango.
Khiva, Uzbekistan, Fortress, Silk Road,
UNESCO World Heritage
Khiva, Uzbequistan

The Silk Road Fortress the Soviets Velved

In the 80s, Soviet leaders renewed Khiva in a softened version that, in 1990, UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site. The USSR disintegrated the following year. Khiva has preserved its new luster.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Tarrafal, Santiago, Cape Verde, Tarrafal Bay
Tarrafal, Santiago, Cape Verde

The Tarrafal of Freedom and Slow Life

The village of Tarrafal delimits a privileged corner of the island of Santiago, with its few white sand beaches. Those who are enchanted there find it even more difficult to understand the colonial atrocity of the neighboring prison camp.
Kirkjubour, Streymoy, Faroe Islands
Kirkjubour, streymoy, Faroe Islands

Where the Faroese Christianity Washed Ashore

A mere year into the first millennium, a Viking missionary named Sigmundur Brestisson brought the Christian faith to the Faroe Islands. Kirkjubour became the shelter and episcopal seat of the new religion.
The Toy Train story
On Rails
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
Tabatô, Guinea Bissau, tabanca Mandingo musicians. Baidi
Tabato, Guinea Bissau

The Tabanca of Mandinga Poets Musicians

In 1870, a community of traveling Mandingo musicians settled next to the current city of Bafatá. From the Tabatô they founded, their culture and, in particular, their prodigious balaphonists, dazzle the world.
Fruit sellers, Swarm, Mozambique
Daily life
Enxame Mozambique

Mozambican Fashion Service Area

It is repeated at almost all stops in towns of Mozambique worthy of appearing on maps. The machimbombo (bus) stops and is surrounded by a crowd of eager "businessmen". The products offered can be universal such as water or biscuits or typical of the area. In this region, a few kilometers from Nampula, fruit sales suceeded, in each and every case, quite intense.
female and cub, grizzly footsteps, katmai national park, alaska
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.