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Existential Despair (short-lived)

Tataouine, Tunisia

5pm Permission denied to enter the restricted zone to the south, and forced to head northwest to another crossing into Algeria. I’m angry at the official denial, embarrassed by how much I counted on getting permission, annoyed at the time and money I’ve wasted coming down here only to be denied, reluctant to backtrack, frustrated by my inability to craft a substantial petition in French, concerned about what I’ll run into in northern Algeria, and finally, focused on what is now my only available route to Tamanrasset: the road that caught my attention 28 years ago.

Around me tourists of various nationalities, all here on a comfortable tour bus or in organized expeditions, all here with friends and family, all quite comfortable with what they will see and what they expect and how they will return to their normal life, if they even feel they have left it. The contrast leaves me in utter despair.

Why do I feel I need to do this? Why don’t I just go home? Why am I putting my family through this? What could I possibly get out of this except pain and misery and loneliness? A tan? A workout?

6pm Polly on the phone: her jokes totally ruin my funk. I hate that.

7pm Two American women, mother and daughter, and their Tunisian guide invite me to dinner, and it helps immensely. The Tunisian is a professor of history with a wonderful sense of humor, and the women have traveled widely, so that our discussion goes from Roman agriculture in the Sahara to riding busses in Honduras to coyotes eating the pet dog in Napa Valley where the family grows wine. A Canadian woman stops by to say hello, mentions she is renting a house in Douz, and says yes when I invite myself to lunch in a few days. Something to look forward to.

8pm. Plotting the new route. I'll tack west much further north that I had originally intended, but I have to backtrack 120km. I'll wake up at 5am and try to do that in one day, back to Gabes and the Oasis (pink bathroom) hotel.

permalink written by  roel krabbendam on January 3, 2007 from Tataouine, Tunisia
from the travel blog: Harmattan
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Just remember that the down feelings are nothing more than that:feelings...they will go away....even if I do not tell you any goofy jokes.....Are you riding like crazy today? We did not get a chance to speak with you today, but Mia and I arrived home just fine....exhausted, but happy to see the "fur balls". I know that you are missing them as well, right?

I love the pieces you filled in on the blog. I can map out the trip on our map here at the house so call me with the towns.
P & M

permalink written by  Polly Dithmer on January 4, 2007

I've put all the new towns in the blog, so if you scroll down you can see them and plot them. Also, the blog map should allow you to zoom in and see the new route. I'll talk to you on the phone tonight...your morning.

permalink written by  roel krabbendam on January 5, 2007

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7 Trips
687 Photos

Here's a synopsis of my trips to date (click on the trip names to the right to get all the postings in order):

Harmattan: Planned as a bicycle trip through the Sahara Desert, from Tunis, Tunisia to Cotonou, Benin, things didn't work out quite as expected.

Himalayas: No trip at all, just...

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