We liked the trip and the very next day, we are planning overland travel by truck to Zraoua, an abandoned desert village.
In the early morning hours the Mercedes is made ready to go. Tara must stay behind, for cats and dogs in the truck would certainly end in disaster.
Bine directs the truck out of the lot. It is a former army Mercedes, four-wheel of course, with a large cabin that the two have changed into a living room. Bodo controls the vehicle between the palm trees. Because of the size it is not so simple. Our vehicle is left behind of course. We are still waiting for the pressure switch.
One difficulty with the heavy vehicle is the height. Tunisia’s towns and villages are simply not designed for such high vehicles. And so it happens frequently, that Bine must get on the roof of the truck in order to lift wires and power lines, so the truck can pass through below. A dangerous business, because you never know exactly how the electricity was installed and how the cables are secured. This is just thank to God only flags on a ribbon.
Finally, we are through and can go.
In brisk ride we come to the hilly landscape. The view from the truck is good, because you sit high up. Today it has to prove itself, because we will go through rather rough terrain.
After some doubts, we finally find the exit and already the difficult part of the trail starts. We do not know much about the road. It runs in constant ups and downs through the hills – often winding,- heavily washed out, section by section with high rock steps and strewn with coarse gravel .
It becomes increasingly clear to us why that village was abandoned 10 km away from the main road. The supply of the place is pretty difficult on such roads, so the residents were relocated close to the asphalt road.
Considering that only walking speed can be driven, you need from the new city to the village about three hours. Yes kilometres have no meaning in Africa, so distances are also given in time. When asked how far away is this and that, instead of mileage you get hours of travel in response.
The time has not stood still here. Was it possible for people to supply themselves in the villages , the situation changed by the increased needs of life. Now, goods must be transported on such roads, which drives up prices and the migration became a necessity.
After about two hours travel time, and seven miles later, the village comes first into view . Picturesquely situated on a hill scattered throughout the desert landscape. We are surprised. We would not have imagined that big.
We take a break and enjoy the silence of the desert and the magnificent view of Zraoua.
The village is virtually abandoned. One or two houses are still inhabited. Here we see not only ruins, but an almost intact, though abandoned village. Small lanes, alleys, archways and courtyards, multi-storey residential buildings and mosques. Much has decayed or dilapidated, with sagging floors and crooked walls.
We end our trip and return to Gabes. It is 24th of December, Christmas Eve and we want to prepare a nice Christmas dinner.