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You're still in Tunisia???

Kebili, Tunisia

OK, Polly really kicked my butt last night on the phone. The conversation went something like this:
"Why are you still in Tunisia"?
"You've hardly moved at all"!
...you get the picture. To redeem myself I put in a decent if not outstanding 80 kilometers today, pulling into Kibili around 5pm. Found a decent hotel. OK, better than decent: waterfalls, swimming pool, deep, hot bath, full bar and internet: $100 including dinner and breakfast. I'm not exactly slumming it yet, though that time will shortly be upon me.

Early afternoon, Gabes.

I had trouble getting money yesterday leaving Gabes, and didn't finally pull out until 230pm.
I had time for 40 km with that headwind still blowing fiercely, though not quite in my face as I turned westward, and pulled into El Hamma at 530, just as it got dark. 2 guys on a small motorcycle shouted some encouragement mid-day as they zoomed by, and then waved me over for a coffee a few hours later. Boubridaa Abdelhamid and a friend were toking on a waterpipe, and we ended up chatting a bit. Finally he invited me to go to the bath with him that night, which we did after I set up in a hotel in El Hamma. I treated him to dinner, though his wife kept calling him on his cell phone, and he was very worried about someone messing with his motorcycle. I was supposed to meet his family in the morning, but after waiting an hour past our appointed time I took off. I actually saw him heading towards the hotel several miles up the road, but he didn't see me. So, no picture, but I have his address and will ask him to send me one.

Abdelhamid is 42 years old, with a lot of metal teeth and some continuing dental problems. I frankly had my doubts about him when I sat down for a coffee with him, but he proved to be quite genuine. He's been married 22 years and has 2 sons: a 13 year old who is very studious and a 7 year old who's a bit of a devil. He worked for the last 6 years in the tourist hotels on the island of Jerba during the week and sees his family on the weekends. He does this to afford the appliances and plumbing fixtures his wife wants. He makes 300 Dinar/month working 12 hour shifts. He built his own house with some good help in only 3 months, and has several friends living with his family, paying rent. He grew up in Gabes working on the family plot, but switched to the hotel jobs at age 35 because he wasn't making enough money. For Eid he spent a month salary to buy a sheep, but he says it will keep his family very well fed for quite some time to come. "The frigidaire is full", he told me.

His dad is 90 years old, can barely see and hear and walk, but refuses to move in with him. His mom is 72, and both are supported by 300 Dinar/month that comes to them from Tripoli, where his dad used to work. The money stops when his dad dies, at which time they will sell the family home in Gabes and put mom in with one of the three sons. Abdelhamid has 2 brothers, one in the provincial government in Gabes and the other an electrician in El Hamma.

Last year some Belgian guy sent him 8000 Dinar to pay for a passport and visa and ticket, allowing Abdelhamid to come spend 5 weeks with him in Brussels.

He says he has a lot of opportunities with foreign girls at the hotels, with one Spanish girl in particular rather eager to marry him, but he has stayed true to his wife. We agreed it was just better that way.

permalink written by  roel krabbendam on January 6, 2007 from Kebili, Tunisia
from the travel blog: Harmattan
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Hey Roel!

Just wanted to wish you Happy New Year and tell that I am delighted to see these photos and read the blog. (Only found it a minute ago...)

We thought you almost crossed the desert by now. (just kidding) We have not heard from you since you left, started to worry, but the wonderful world of google helped.

Must call Polly tomorrow.

Have a nice trip today!


PS: In case you need help, just give us a call..

permalink written by  Tamas on January 6, 2007

know anyone in Algeria?

permalink written by  roel krabbendam on January 7, 2007

I know one guy, but he lives in France. We can ask him.


permalink written by  Tamas on January 7, 2007

That would be great: I have some apprehension about Algeria. I'll be in El Oued, Touggert, Ghiardia and Tamanrasset.

permalink written by  roel krabbendam on January 8, 2007


Ok, you have suckered me into this blog and it occurs to me that I am actually excited to learn more with every blog. For someone who previously had NO interest, let me say it again, NO interest in the region in which you are bicycling, I am entranced.

Keep your chin up. Or down, if it's windy.


permalink written by  beth cail on January 8, 2007

It's good to hear from you. Good luck...what do you remember about the fountain.

permalink written by  Emil on January 9, 2007

I could see you in a veil: white linen, nothing but one eye visible and some socks and shoes. You'd walk around, mistress of your own cocoon, no leering or innuendo in your daily transactions...imagine...

permalink written by  roel krabbendam on January 11, 2007

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roel krabbendam roel krabbendam
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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