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After many years of longing to walk where the Jedi once walked, I was finally able to tread the Jundland Wastes on Tatooine from 19 to 26 May 2001.

I spent a week in Tunisia and was able to locate 7 Star Wars filming sites. Not only did I bring 6 kilograms of TunisianSand with me (from three different locations), I also found a very nicely shaped rock in Star Wars Canyon and some window dressing from the Episode I sets at Ksar Haddada.

My journey began on the island of Jerba. In Ajim, the ferry port on the southern coast, you can find that little building that was once a popular bar, frequented by all sorts of 'scum and villainy'. Nothing much is left of the Cantina, but the domed building is still easily recognizable. In front of the Cantina one can still find Stormtrooper Checkpoint, where Luke's landspeeder with Ben and the droids was stopped. Also nearby is the alley that was used as a background for the scene in which the Falcon blasts out of Mos Eisley.

When continuing to the west along the coast from Ajim, after about 1 kilometer, you'll suddenly see a familiar looking building on the coastside. It is deserted now, but this was the hermitage where once lived a Jedi by the name of Obi-Wan…

Also on Jerba, in Sidi Jemour further up the westcoast, the marabout (temple) of Sidi Jemour proudly withstands the sun. This temple was used as the Mos Eisley outskirt buildings when Luke & Cie enter the spaceport. In the cutscenes, these buildings are more prominently visible, e.g. in the scene in which Luke and Biggs say their goodbyes. It was also used for Toshi Station. Luke, Camie and Fixer can be seen looking through macrobinoculars trying to find evidence in the sky of the battle between the Star Destroyer and the Rebel Blockade Runner Tantive IV.

On to the mainland then, where Medenine is our first stop. Behind the tourist market is a small alley which - at first sight - offers no clue to being a Star Wars location. The natives reclaimed their homes after the Episode I crew had left. These scenes were filmed here : Anakin leading his new-found friends home to seek shelter from the sandstorm and Anakin leaving his mother ('Don't look back…'). What a strange feeling to touch the door that leads to Anakin's hovel…

Matmata is best known for it's troglodyte homes. These underground pits were meant as a protection against thiefs and robbers. After all, from a distance, they cannot be spotted! A large complex of connected pits was turned into a popular hotel : Hotel Sidi Driss. To many Star Wars Pioneers, the Sidi Driss is considered to be a 'holy grail'. After all, it is the location used to shoot the 'Lars' Homestead'. And boy, was I lucky! The crew had left but six months ago and all the props and set dressing were still there! Awesome! Even the painted ceiling in the Dining Room was still clearly visible (I should say 'again', for it was restored by a French fan a few years ago). I went up around the hotel to see it from the surface and I could have sworn that I heard the distant voice of Aunt Beru, shouting out 'Luke ? Luuuke…?'

Ksar Haddada was once a hotel. Now it is all but a ruin, despite it's Star Wars status. Soon there will be nothing left of it. At this location, the scene in which Qui-Gon and Shmi discuss Anakin's parentage was filmed ('There was no father…'). And again, the odds were in my favor : on the door and window openings was still some yellow and orange set dressing left. Since this place was rapidly deteriorating, I thought it smart to bring some of this set dressing back with me to Belgium. They now have a found a new home.

Another nice location that I found that was supposedly used as a background for the Mos Espa Slave Quarters is the Ksar of Ouled Soltane. But according to the latest info I found on the internet, this set was ultimately dropped, so… Perhaps this set was used for Episode II. We'll find out next May…

The most beautiful and impressing location by far is without a doubt the natural canyon in the vicinity of Sidi Bouhlel. This canyon was used from so many angles in 1976 (and even for Episode I, albeit for a very short scene of a Tusken firing at the Podracers…) that Lucasfilm employees renamed it 'Star Wars Canyon'. This location is very difficult to find without a detailed map or good description, but once discovered you'll find it is a true prize! Especially Jawa Rock, a distinct natural rock that just screams 'Tatooine'. At this very spot the following scenes were shot : the Jawas that capture Artoo, Luke being attacked by a Tusken Raider, Obi-Wan and Luke overlooking the city of Mos Eisley (the view itself was shot in Death Valley, California!). Just outside the canyon is a plane where the Sandcrawler once stood, but now all traces of the Jawa's behemoth vehicle have been swept away by Tatooine sandstorms.

In 2003 I plan to undertake a new voyage to Tatooine to find new locations that I was unable to visit this year. And of course to find the new locations that were used for Episode II. If you would like to see more pictures of my travels of the Jundland Wastes, then point your browser this way Trip to Tatooine 2001. If you are thinking of going there yourselves or coming along with me in 2003, do not hesitate to contact me.

Remember… may the Sand be with you!

Mark 'Jedi' Dermul, Wilrijk, Belgium. May 2001

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