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.
Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
PN Kaziranga, India

The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Young people walk the main street in Chame, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a ChameNepal

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Sheets of Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil
Architecture & Design
Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

Lençóis da Bahia: not Even Diamonds Are Forever

In the XNUMXth century, Lençóis became the world's largest supplier of diamonds. But the gem trade did not last as expected. Today, the colonial architecture that he inherited is his most precious possession.
Totems, Botko Village, Malekula, Vanuatu
Malekula, Vanuatu

Meat and Bone Cannibalism

Until the early XNUMXth century, man-eaters still feasted on the Vanuatu archipelago. In the village of Botko we find out why European settlers were so afraid of the island of Malekula.
Dragon Dance, Moon Festival, Chinatown-San Francisco-United States of America
Ceremonies and Festivities
San Francisco, USA

with the head on the moon

September comes and Chinese people around the world celebrate harvests, abundance and unity. San Francisco's enormous Sino-Community gives itself body and soul to California's biggest Moon Festival.
Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, Travel Korea, Color Maneuvers
Alone, South Korea

A Glimpse of Medieval Korea

Gyeongbokgung Palace stands guarded by guardians in silken robes. Together they form a symbol of South Korean identity. Without waiting for it, we ended up finding ourselves in the imperial era of these Asian places.
Cocoa, Chocolate, Sao Tome Principe, Agua Izé farm
São Tomé and Principe

Cocoa Roças, Corallo and the Chocolate Factory

At the beginning of the century. In the XNUMXth century, São Tomé and Príncipe generated more cocoa than any other territory. Thanks to the dedication of some entrepreneurs, production survives and the two islands taste like the best chocolate.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
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.
Ross Bridge, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering tassie, Part 3, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania from Top to Bottom

The favorite victim of Australian anecdotes has long been the Tasmania never lost the pride in the way aussie ruder to be. Tassie remains shrouded in mystery and mysticism in a kind of hindquarters of the antipodes. In this article, we narrate the peculiar route from Hobart, the capital located in the unlikely south of the island to the north coast, the turn to the Australian continent.
Islamic silhouettes

Istanbul, Turkey

Where East meets West, Turkey Seeks its Way

An emblematic and grandiose metropolis, Istanbul lives at a crossroads. As Turkey in general, divided between secularism and Islam, tradition and modernity, it still doesn't know which way to go

sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
Salto Negao, chapada diamantina, bahia gema, brazil
Chapada Diamantina, Brazil

Gem-stone Bahia

Until the end of the century. In the XNUMXth century, Chapada Diamantina was a land of immeasurable prospecting and ambitions. Now that diamonds are rare, outsiders are eager to discover its plateaus and underground galleries
Princess Yasawa Cruise, Maldives

Cruise the Maldives, among Islands and Atolls

Brought from Fiji to sail in the Maldives, Princess Yasawa has adapted well to new seas. As a rule, a day or two of itinerary is enough for the genuineness and delight of life on board to surface.
St. Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia, Caucasus
Winter White
Kazbegi, Georgia

God in the Caucasus Heights

In the 4000th century, Orthodox religious took their inspiration from a hermitage that a monk had erected at an altitude of 5047 m and perched a church between the summit of Mount Kazbek (XNUMXm) and the village at the foot. More and more visitors flock to these mystical stops on the edge of Russia. Like them, to get there, we submit to the whims of the reckless Georgia Military Road.
shadow vs light
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Era Susi towed by dog, Oulanka, Finland
PN Oulanka, Finland

A Slightly Lonesome Wolf

Jukka “Era-Susi” Nordman has created one of the largest packs of sled dogs in the world. He became one of Finland's most iconic characters but remains faithful to his nickname: Wilderness Wolf.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
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.
Natural Parks
unmissable roads

Great Routes, Great Trips

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One against all, Sera Monastery, Sacred Debate, Tibet
UNESCO World Heritage
Lhasa, Tibet

Sera, the Monastery of the Sacred Debate

In few places in the world a dialect is used as vehemently as in the monastery of Sera. There, hundreds of monks, in Tibetan, engage in intense and raucous debates about the teachings of the Buddha.
Look-alikes, Actors and Extras

Make-believe stars

They are the protagonists of events or are street entrepreneurs. They embody unavoidable characters, represent social classes or epochs. Even miles from Hollywood, without them, the world would be more dull.
Cargo Cabo Santa Maria, Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde, Sal, Evoking the Sahara
Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde

Boa Vista Island: Atlantic waves, Dunas do Sara

Boa Vista is not only the Cape Verdean island closest to the African coast and its vast desert. After a few hours of discovery, it convinces us that it is a piece of the Sahara adrift in the North Atlantic.
Newar celebration, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Bhaktapur, Nepal

The Nepalese Masks of Life

The Newar Indigenous People of the Kathmandu Valley attach great importance to the Hindu and Buddhist religiosity that unites them with each other and with the Earth. Accordingly, he blesses their rites of passage with newar dances of men masked as deities. Even if repeated long ago from birth to reincarnation, these ancestral dances do not elude modernity and begin to see an end.
Flam Railway composition below a waterfall, Norway.
On Rails
Nesbyen to Flam, Norway

Flam Railway: Sublime Norway from the First to the Last Station

By road and aboard the Flam Railway, on one of the steepest railway routes in the world, we reach Flam and the entrance to the Sognefjord, the largest, deepest and most revered of the Scandinavian fjords. From the starting point to the last station, this monumental Norway that we have unveiled is confirmed.
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.
herd, foot-and-mouth disease, weak meat, colonia pellegrini, argentina
Daily life
Colónia Pellegrini, Argentina

When the Meat is Weak

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Cape cross seal colony, cape cross seals, Namibia
Cape Cross, Namíbia

The Most Turbulent of the African Colonies

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Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
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.