20 March 2010 Rush back to Tunis

Rush back to Tunis

After waking up in the desert, we are in a hurry to get out of it and find the path to Tunis.

20 March 2010 Rush back to Tunis

We are awake quite early in the morning as the nights in the desert are usually very cold. All of us were freezing in our tent but the rising Sun heats the sand very fast. We are having our nice camping breakfast and soon after all of us are ready to find the way out of the Sahara. We have about 15 km to go to get out of the desert.

In the morning light the dunes and the lines are composing different interesting shapes. One would say it’s a real Vasarely Op-Art. The Sahara is really beautiful. It always shows its different face. The sand has different colors and it’s on a constant move. The wind blows the grains of the sand and moves them away. Somewhere the wind destroys, elsewhere it builds up something.

Gondwanateam takes the lead and the others follow us. We are making our best to find the best dunes to climb without sticking in the sand. Sometimes we are getting out of the car to climb on a dune for better orientation.

Our little caravan now is more experienced only few times we have to stop to dig out someone. It’s very nice driving uphill-downhill on the dunes. Sometimes we have to make very big deviation because the dune is too high and seems impossible to climb up.

We meet some camels along the way. These are very peaceful animals. They are very big although they are also very shy. The old Arabic saying tells: the camel is very dangerous: at the beginning it bites, at the end it kicks, and in-between is very humpy.

An hour later we are on the desert highway. We are inflating all the tires as we expect no more dunes to come. We are following our yearly tradition by creating a V formation from our cars and we drive along the deserted path. It’s big fun. After this we are trying the top speed of our cars as the circumstances are letting us to do so. Nobody does it for winning it’s a friendly competition. Of course only the Magnum Team’s Landcruiser and the Polish Rally Camp Teams’ Iveco and modified Nissan Patrol are able to show their power. The others are only spectators but we all are enjoying our game.

The path to Ksar Gilane is again surrounded by dunes. We climb up and down them, like in a kid’s fun park. When we hit the oasis we meet our Latvian friends and Tarmo from Estonia. They are very glad to meet us but they wouldn’t join us as they would stay longer in Tunisia to explore all what they can. We wish them good luck and we continue our trip toward Tunis. There we have a ferry to catch that takes us to Palermo, Sicily.

Soon after Ksar Gilane (which is famous for its oasis and also for a battle won by the French Battalion in the WWII) we reach the macadam road. From there it’s easy driving. We stop by some camels and some funny road signs, while approaching to the troglodytes villages. These people were the one who inspired Georg Lucas’s Star Wars movies when designing Luke Skywalker’s home. These people are living in houses dug into mountains. It has a couple meter wide courtyard inside where you can reach the caves. These caves are serving different purposes: to store the grain, to keep the animals, to cook or to sleep in it. Also it’s very well isolated and keeps the heat during the night, and remains cool during the heat. Very interesting.

In Matmata we help Attila and Bela to repair their car, as the air suspensions have broken on the left side, so they were really funny as lowriders.. So soon we leave Matmata behind, and we drive toward Sfax to reach the highway. Our Pawelek friends are continuing their way to a restaurant to get the last pieces of the Tunisian goats. They are having a delicious lunch there. But we go on.

Later we contact our Polish friends: Marek, Grzegorz and Wacek to find out where they are. (They’ve spent a night at the Café called Porte du Desert and now they are on the highway to Tunis.) At a deviation we meet them and we try to reach the same boat together.

In Tunis we stop why not? So we take a quick diner at Why not? :-) When we realise the time (9PM) we are in a hurry to get to the port as the boarding starts in an hour and we don’t have the tickets. We are taking the shortcuts and arrive to the cargo port. We lost time but nobody stops us to be at the passengers’ port. While Armin is dealing with the parking Balazs is running up the stairs to get the tickets for Gondwanateam, Magnum Team and the 3 Polish friends. There he meets the organisers and helps them also to get the tickets. All is done just on time! (What a surprise! Again at the very last moment!)

At 21.20 we are queuing to the gates and Paweleks and Attila with Bela arrive from the other direction. We are afraid they wont get the tickets for the same boat but the next one at 1AM.

Of course the paperwork and the bureaucracy rule again. We are not willing to describe again the whole procedure (those who are interested in can check our previous post about the entering process to Tunisia). Of course after finishing all, we have to wait for the boat to load as it was also late to unload. As time goes by people are more tired and more frustrated. The home is near and our souls are already left the continent with our hopes for the visas, but our bodies are still remaining in the port and still not in the boat.

Finally when they open the decks the cars are rushing inside the boat. Everybody is willing to get their cabin and get some sleep. It’s already 1am when we reach ours, we lay our heads immediately to the pillows. Without a word we fall to sleep.

Our Adventures to Africa and our goal to reach Benin are not given up! Just being postponed for a while!