On the second half of our tour out of Gabés, Tunisia, the ride from Dous (called the Saharan Gate) to Kebili didn’t take too long and passed through more rugged desert lands.Tunisia is a democratic country and Tunisian’s are not the same as Arabs. Also, a Berber is not the same as a Nomad. Berber’s stay in one place; Nomads travel to find grazing for their flocks. So you can have a Tunisian Berber, or a Tunisian Nomad, and an Arab Berber or an Arab Nomad.
This is a Nomad camp. The oases town of Kebili has the earliest hard evidence of human habitation in Tunisia. The town has the same name as the Governorate (district), which has a total population of over 150,000 and borders Algeria. The best times to visit are spring and fall since winters are very cold and summers are very hot. When we arrived at the camp at the edge of the Sahara Desert were were given the option to ride in a horse-drawn cart or ride on the back of a dromedary. There are no camels in Tunisia, we were informed, only dromedaries. Camels have two humps, dromedaries only have one. This ride was very different from the short walk around the paddock that we did in Australia the year before. This time we had a 30-40 minute ride into the sands of the Sahara. The desert will eventually reclaim anything and everything.My dromedary was the father of John’s five-year old. Our handler was Ali and he was a really neat, friendly guy. The ‘saddle’ is right at the back behind the hump so it is feels pretty weird.
We managed, not very gracefully, to get off the dromedaries, which is no mean feat, as they fold their front legs down to the ground and then drop the back. It is the reverse to rise: the back legs straighten up and then the front legs follow. You better be holding on or you will be on the ground. The sand is as fine as icing sugar.
Our desert ride over, it was back in the trucks for the ride back to port; via a different route. We arrived late. The ship should have sailed 15 minutes earlier. One of the major benefits of paying the extra money for a ship arranged excursion – the ship will wait for you if you are delayed by something or just running late.
Appropriately, the theme in the dining room that evening was “Arabian Nights.” I had a dress with me and John had found a nice light, white shirt and yellow turban for the occasion. On any theme night there is always a display area with dining room managers and front desk staff in costume and happy to have you sit in for a photo. This was the first cruise we had been on where we actually brought along outfits for the various themed nights. It was lots of fun. And the staff folks really enjoyed our participation.Next day, next port, the island of Malta which is near Sicily and just across a narrow part of the Mediterranean Sea from Tunisia.