During his 2005 journey to Tunisia, the Monkey ventured inland to Douz, a town that’s proud to call itself a gateway to the Sahara.
Douz is a medium-sized market town in central Tunisia, about half way between the Mediterranean coast and the Algerian frontier. Douz sits at the edge of the vast Sahara Desert, and has long been a stopping point for the nomadic Mrazig people. Perhaps emulating them, the Monkey also set off on his own mini Saharan adventure from Douz.
Among the attractions of Douz are its oasis (below) and the Great Dune just on the edge of town. Here, the Monkey sits in the Saharan sand while contemplating the eerily flat light cast by the waning sun.
On his first visit to an oasis, the Monkey realized that these verdant slivers of land in the desert-dominated region exceed their clichéd reputation as tiny islands in a sea of sand. With a natural spring supplying fresh water, the oasis outside Douz covers a great area and features towering palms and numerous green patches where local residents cultivate a variety of crops. Footpaths cut between the crops, and the desert heat is kept at bay by the ample shade trees. Le Singe was pleased to escape the sun for a while during his visit to a literal oasis.
Time to dig in, Monkey! At Ali Baba, Douz’s best known restaurant, the Monkey prepares to indulge in a classic culinary treat of North Africa: couscous. The chef/owner at Ali Baba is a kind fellow with a photo album of visitors from around the world, and he prepares a mean vegetarian couscous. Hungry yet?
Getting settled in the Saharan style, the Monkey prepares to enjoy a waterpipe (or hookah) in Douz’s delicious Ali Baba restaurant (kids, don’t try this at home). As a health nut, the Monkey didn’t actually smoke any flavored tobacco, but he did enjoy his chance to inspect one of these unique smoking implements up close.
The Monkey peers down on the dusty streets of Douz, a Saharan market town in every sense of the word. When the traders arrive each week with everything from camels to clogs, it’s easy to imagine stocking up on supplies before setting out for a trans-Saharan trek.
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