T Minus 8 Days and Counting!
by David West Reynolds
April 25 1997 - Tunisia is a fascinating and exotic land, with such wonders as vast Roman ruins and strange ghost cities standing in the wastes of the interior. Berber citadels, skeletal now, keep watch over the Algerian passes, while the old "ksar" granary fortresses loom on remote hilltops. George Lucas was greatly inspired by this fantastic place, and Tunisia's sights and sounds shaped Star Wars in many ways.
The very name Tatooine is taken from a real Arab city far to the south, at the limits of civilization. Jawas were a common brand of moped of Yugoslavian make, of a type often seen old and rusty yet still motoring, sustained with improvised repairs over many many years. Sound familiar? Moff Jerrjerrod in Return of the Jedi takes his name from the Chott el-Djerid, the great salt pan that once swallowed unwary caravans into inescapable brine mud beneath the surface crust.
Tunisia is truly an otherworldly destination, and as Ben Kenobi advised, "we must be cautious." In spite of the Euro-hotels on the sunny Mediterranean coast, this is a country in which you can take the wrong fork in the road and end up all too quickly in Libya (as I once did when on my first excavation in Tunisia).
North Americans are, you might say, less than welcome there. Or you can go too far west and hit Algeria, where tourists have been among the many killed by terrorists recently. In the words of Obi-Wan, "this place can be a little rough," especially in the interior.
Raphael and Francis are preparing even now to venture forth into this realm, but don't worry about them too much. I've got our very own Land Cruiser waiting, and as you'll see, I have some excellent protection for them. Stay tuned for explanations right here, in coming reports on the 1997 Journey to Tatooine.