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Tozeur, Tunisia

After 75 km of dead flat highway on a berm across the Chott El Jerid (Salt lake that to my eye looked more like sand with a crust of salt, but you could see the water level was just inches down. There was no problem walking on the sand though), I began to see higher land around 4pm. With the sun starting to set, I was met at 5pm by the Very Strong Headwind, followed at 530pm by the Very Steep Hill, followed at 6pm by the Main Street of Mule Manure. Exhausted as always at the end of the day (not 19 years old anymore), but spurred on by the kid who yelled BONSOIR PUSSYCAT, I entered Tozeur as it got completely dark, turned on the lights and found a sensibly-priced 3 star hotel by 630pm.

The doorman was too chummy, reception was too obsequious, they didn’t have internet, they didn’t accept visa…but still, I thought, all that is less important than a Very Hot Bath and so I signed in. I entered my room and found it faced a blank wall: new room. I ran the bath for 15 minutes waiting for hot water: barely tepid. The doorman ran off to start the second water heater. We ran all the taps for another 15 minutes: no change. I grabbed all my bags and the trailer, very politely said I would be staying elsewhere, and headed for the door. “No, no, just 15 minutes more and it will come, the hot water”!

It took me 10 minutes to find another hotel, the Hotel Ksar Rouge, and immediately all was well with the world. OK, no internet: just a secure wireless network they won’t give out the key for…ugh! But gracious staff, wonderful facility, great food, and yes: a Very Hot Bath.

Tomorrow, Algeria. Visa hassles expected, and then there is this lurking apprehension about the people. This is a traumatized country I imagine, with years of fundamentalist suppression, Tuareg revolt, rampant unemployment and disaffected youth. Little news reports come out: “5 policemen massacred near Ghardaia”. Foreigners receive armed escorts and live in encampments surrounded by concrete and barbed wire. There is no tourist industry to speak of lately…and yet…

At least in Tunisia I’ve inspired such interest and generosity in the people I meet, with the sports thing creating some common ground with the 15-25 set. I can’t help but believe something similar will happen in Algeria. I’m counting on it.

I did fool around with the dial up connection through the satellite phone today: it is painfully unreliable, slow, and therefore very expensive as well. Photos and blog updates may be kept to a minimum for some time to come. If anyone needs reassurance regarding my well-being, call Polly. At the very least I will call her every 1 or 2 days.

permalink written by  roel krabbendam on January 8, 2007 from Tozeur, Tunisia
from the travel blog: Harmattan
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roel krabbendam roel krabbendam
7 Trips
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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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