August 17, 2005

Part V: Tatooine

Tatooine is more famous as the home planet of Annakin and Luke Skywalker. And although the Star Wars planet's similarity to the Arizona desert has been noted by other travellers, its real inspiration is the village and surrounding countryside of Tatooine, Tunisia.

This area is in the remote, mountainous southern region of Tunisia. In terms of isolation, low population density, and rugged lifestyle, it's a close cousin to the Wild West of the U.S., or perhaps the Australian Outback.

And once you visit the real Tatooine, you realize that it is really the inspiration for this strange desert planet. The film was shot there, rough-and-tumble frontier character is entirely authentic to the place itself.

The strange beasts of burden are modeled on a camel's bone structure. Even the alien architecture is actually just traditional below-ground Berber homes with slight modifications.

In fact, we spent the night at a place which was once a Berber residence, then used to shoot the scene of Luke Skywalker breakfasting with his uncle at their Tatooine home, and today is a hotel.

It's definitely a cool place to spend the night, but when the parade of Westerners traipses through your (shared) bathroom as you brush your teeth in the morning, you realize the downside of sleeping in a tourist attraction. And, perhaps, get a depressing sense of how the local Tunisians must feel.

My favorite part was that while showering, I could see in a corner crack the nest some small animal had made out of the hair people leave in the shower. All part of the experience of sleeping in a hotel that's a cave, I suppose!

The surrounding town itself is small, and although full of modern conveniences like cars and restaurants, also firmly reaches back to echo more timeless aspects of Middle Eastern civilization. From now on, when I picture biblical scenes, Matmata will be in my head.

(photos courtesy of Nora)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, a link! You are too kind. I enjoy the blog and great pictures. Take care -s

August 23, 2005  

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