CHOTT EL-JERID I
LARS' HOMESTEAD EXTERIOR

That night when we'd dropped Hamida off at his house we made arrangements to meet the next day for the last two Star Wars sites. Initially Hamida suggested we start at 6am - a time of the morning that I had recently become reacquainted with but didn't want to become too familiar. We explained that we had been up 5am that morning and needed sleep. I'm sure that Hamida thought that an early start was the norm, being a Muslim he would be up at sunrise for prayer anyway, but relented and allowed us a lie-in.

Back at the hotel we took time to wash out the salt and sand of the Chott el-Gharsa out of our hair and pick the stones of Sidi Bouhlel from our boots before we made our way back in Tozeur for dinner. It was also time to spend a few dinar on some souvenirs. The whole holiday I had put off buying any sizeable desert roses because of the massive mark up they have stcuk on them in the Zone Touristiques. But out here, where they were dug out of the sands from, I knew that they'd be cheap. Next to the pizza restaurant we had chosen to eat in was a myriad of examples of these strange minerals os while we waited for our food to be cooked we wandered over to take a look. Without even having to haggle we purchased a huge desert rose for the mighty sum of one dinar. Thinking that the seller had been suspicious we bagged our prize and darted back to the restaurant before anyone came to investigate!

The next morning we met Hamida outside the ONTT where he worked at a reasonable 9am; he was his usual bubbly self, complete with smile and cheery glint in his eye. He was tied up with some official looking suits so we waited quietly in a corner with a packet of photos he had taken during the filming of Episode 1. The 40 snaps he gave us included pictures of the Mos ..Espa ..and ..slave ..quarter ..sets

during filming. Here was our unassuming guide hob-nobbing with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman. What a price they would have brought on ebay! He was soon finished his business so we put the photos back, wiped the drool off our chins and made ready to move. Without any further adieu, turn of the key and roar of the engine we were soon leaving Tozeur and on the way to Nefta to see if we could get any good deals on used droids.

On the edge of the great salt-lake of Chott el-Jerid, only ten kilometres past the oasis town of Nefta, is the location used to mark the Lars' Homestead. Rather than use the less than desolate hills of Matmata as Luke's home, Lucas filmed all the action that occured on the surface of Tatooine here on the edge of the chott to make a single location - just like he did with the real Ksar Hadada in the Ksour with the small set in the Chott el-Gharsa. Though you can see the main road from this location ...it ..is ..daunting ..to ..find. ..All ..you ..are

looking for is a couple of low mounds that do their best to look unobtrusive. Luckily we had our resident expert to guide us who seemingly pointed either left or right at random, until we pulled up at a trio of craters. He indicated that I should slow down to a crawl and then suddenly motioned me to stop the car. I did wonder why - it seemed to me that it was pure showmanship. But once out of the car I realised what Hamida had been doing. He had us park on the exact spot that the sandcrawler had pulled up on. How cool is that!

From where the car pulled up you can see we had the perfect vantage point to survey the location. Imagine that you are standing by the treads of the (long-departed) sandcrawler and compare the mounds on the right of each picture. This was the main pit, where Luke called down to Aunt Beru about his uncle's plans for the droids. The left-hand circle of salty sand was that used as the hydroponics station where Beru grew her weird root vegetables. The entrance to the complex was through the domed building in the centre; of which their are no remains. Likewise for the vaporators, assorted boxes and surface gear.

It's quite simple to put the pieces of this location puzzle together. Firstly Luke is standing near the small, domed building (the Lars' porch) . He walks towards the assembled droids in front of the sandcrawler with Uncle Owen. Then from one side comes the vioce of Aunt Beru calling him. He dashes over to the edge of the pit and, with hand on knee, look down. Up to here this scene was filmed on the Chott el-Jerid. The following scenes were shot from the equivalent vantage point looking down into the main pit at the Hotel Sidi Driss. Aunt Beru stops her work and asks Luke to remind Owen to get a translator droid that speaks Bocce. Luke comments that there isn't a great deal of choice and turns away from the pit. The rest of the scene, where C-3PO and R2-D2 are bought from the Jawas, was again filmed at this location. Simple editing melded the two sites into a single, cohesive location.

.

Tatooine surface - Luke speaks with Aunt Beru Tatooine subsurface - Aunt Beru wants a droid that can speak Bocce Lars Homstead (Exterior) - author standing at rims edge Lars Homestead (Interior) - what you are meant to see Lars Homestead (Exterior) - what you really see!!

Yes, this is where the Lars' lived. Its hard to imagine that they put up with such squalor but it seems that Aunt Beru can sometimes be quite lax with her house cleaning duties. Luckily they had that quiet mountain retreat a couple of hundred Ks away in the south. (I mean of course, the Hotel Sidi Driss.)

This is from the same spot that Luke stood to look over the "edge" to talk with his aunt. You can see that the rim has crumbled away quite a bit - this is from the annual rains and occasional tourist who wanders out here. The crater is about 30 foot across and maybe 3 foot deep and is infilled with washed out sand. The curled "plates" in the dead centre are mud flakes created by the wet sand and salt crystals drying rapidly under the sun. This process forms a pattern called polygonal cracking by geographers and geologists.

All around the craters were the imbedded tyre tracks of other visitors. They were all multilayered and some had been washed away but it looked like a record of all the visitors this location had seen going back for years. I spent a couple of minutes trying to find any traces of the tread tracks that had been dug to mark the passage of the Jawa's sandcrawler. Hamida realised what I was doing and indicated that they had been smoothed away after filming had been completed. And if there had been any trace of the three-wheeled gurney that Luke's landspeeder had sat upon, its tracks were buried under everyone else's imprints. I wanted to find an untouched spot to take a picture of this salt-lake so I turned away from the homestead and looked out upon the unspoilt the Chott el-Jerid. It quickly dawned on me that this vista was the same as the Lars' vaporator field (or as close a match as I was ever going to get). Somewhere out there was the south ridge that Uncle Owen had tried to send Luke to!

While I was dashing from crater to crater my wife took the opportunity to get a quick picture of Hamida while he watched on from the car. Luckily the shadow on his face masks his bored expression! The folder on the bonnet is his famed collection of stills, books, notes, articles and magazines that people have made and sent him. It is a treasure trove of information for the location hunter. Once we'd had a really good look around the location there was little else to do here. It was off to the last remaining Star Wars location in Tunisia - the Dune Sea...

onto NEXT location

[Contents] [Jerba] [The Ksour] [Matmata] [E-Mail]