Tunisia

T O Z E U R    /    D O U Z

Tozeur (and its sister city, Nefta) feature a form of architecture that exists only in those two cities.  These cities are on the edge of the Sahara, and perhaps because of this more arid climate have medinas the walls of which are made of brick.  As you can see at left, certain raised bricks are used to form geometrical patterns.

Tozeur medina, leading out to the palmerie.

The palmerie behind me.  As you can see from the picture above, the Tozeur medina is built right up against the edge of the palmerie.

Inside the palmerie... Tozeur has the second largest palmerie in Tunisia.  These are just massive plots of land on which-- you guessed it!-- palm trees grow.  They occur naturally at the outset, as part of an oasis ecosystem, but all of the ones I traversed had artificially drilled wells dotting their landscape, to accommodate the sinking water table.

They are of course amazingly lush and peaceful places.  Their primary utility at this point is as farms for cultivating dates off of the date palms.

Ben Ali, ad nauseum.  This photo of a photo shows one of about three officially authorized photo portraits of the current president of Tunisia.  Tunisia is nominally a democracy, but I have a hard time crediting any country that elects its leader at over 99% of the vote as being truly democratic.

Apparently, to not post portraits of Ben Ali in your business is to invite trouble with the local police.

Wanna shoe?  Taken in the market in Douz, a wholly utilitarian town, whose sole purpose is to launch the kinds of expeditions depicted on the next two pages.  I found this guy fascinating and funny and emblematic of many such vendors: He had a great selection of footwear, but very little of it actually featured actual matching pairs.

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