Day By Day

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Tunisia Trip -- Part Eighteen

The next day we ventured far out into the desert. Here's a picture taken from the bus. An oasis is in the background and in the foreground is a palm frond fence. These serve a function similar to that of snow fences here in the northeast US. They knock down sand particles and keep them from covering the roads and obstructing traffic.

Our first stop was at a nomad encampment. Here we see a typical nomad tent and livestock enclosure.

One thing that struck me was just how important plastic bottles, bags, and containers were to these people. They pack up everything and take it from place to place and no natural materials are better for that than good old plastic.

Inside the tent, a blond baby doll obviously made in the West.

The children were friendly and adorable. Of course the family had been paid to put up with us.

A nomad woman appraises one of our drivers. She seems to like what she sees.

A young girl shows off her henna.

Inside a tent we were greeted by the matriarch and her progeny.

While two of the young women served us sweet green mint tea.

These nomadic tribesmen are a major feature of Tunisian culture. There have been attempts in the past on the part of central government to entice them into a more settled existence, but they stubbornly refuse to abandon their lifestyles. They range over vast distances, crossing national boundaries frequently, and (we were told) derive a great deal of their income from smuggling. Their children attend schools in the area where they are temporarily located and some of them go on to higher education as young adults. I would have liked to learn more about them. They seem to embody a fascinating mixture of ancient and modern ways. For instance, every family seems to own several camels, but they often also have a couple of pick-up trucks sitting around.

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