Written by rhiannon1968 on 21 Jan, 2002
Architecture: my passion! In Tozeur I found many details to delight the eye. The entire area has a typical architecture that's unique all over Tunisia.The best examples (around the 14th century)can be found in the old area, the Ouled el Hadef, which is better known…Read More
Architecture: my passion! In Tozeur I found many details to delight the eye. The entire area has a typical architecture that's unique all over Tunisia.The best examples (around the 14th century)can be found in the old area, the Ouled el Hadef, which is better known as the Medina. Let's start with the colour: ochre - like the desert surrounding the city. Then comes the layout: little lanes zigzagging in all directions - with many dead-ends; getting lost in them is delightful, one sees so many wonderful corners. And finally the architecture: bricks are used creatively to create all sorts of geometric shapes and designs. They do that by not levelling them: so the designs are created by bricks slightly sticking out.
What I liked best was the fact that no house looked poor - although some of them - judging by the people going in and out - must have surely been modest. Compared to rich merchants' houses their decoration were much simpler - yet not poorer. And rich merchants' houses, though more richly ornated, still did not seem too lavish or luxurious... the feeling I had was that no one really wanted to show off their wealth - but if they had any wealth (a lot or a little) they used it to the entire community's advantage: embellishing their living quarters but never in such a way to show their superiority of wealth. Close
it was the year 1984 - and, being sixteen, I surely had nowhere to go on Saturday night - so I remember being stuck at home watching (shame!) the eurovision song contest. I also remember the Italian duo singing in the contest: Franco Battiato and…Read More
it was the year 1984 - and, being sixteen, I surely had nowhere to go on Saturday night - so I remember being stuck at home watching (shame!) the eurovision song contest. I also remember the Italian duo singing in the contest: Franco Battiato and Alice. They did very poorly that year, basically because they never wrote/sang easy-listening or too popular songs. I often wondered who in the Italian music-biz they had offended, to be sentenced to sing at the Eurovision. Their song was "the trains of Tozeur"
When I happened to travel to Tunisia - a visit to the town of Tozeur was part of the tour - so as our driver Said was approaching our daily destination, the lyrics of the song came back to me. Here's a rough English translation of some of the verses:
in the border towns they look at the trains drive-bythe desert streets of Tozeurand for a moment I feel like livingat a different pacethe trains of Tozeur drive-by slowly again
ok, these lyrics would never win a literary prize - but they got stuck on my mind... and I kept looking out of the rover's window - staring at those tracks - hoping to see one of those trains - wondering how special they would be. My curiosity was never satisfied - those trains don't exist any longer.
The different pace of the song - however - was still there. As we reached Tozeur and went for a discovery walk we found it very silent: the few people we met walked slowly and silently past us - no one shouted - no one tried to sell us anything... it felt for a while like we were the last survivors on earth, and everyone else was a ghost.
we moved on, passed some shops and a market, decided to stop for a drink at an outdoor café. The chairs, other than falling apart, looked like they had not been used in ages - the tables were dusty... a silent waiter came up to us, we ordered some coffee, he nodded silently, came back with two delicious coffees, we paid.. he never spoke a word, just waved his hand at us when we leftIf there's one thing i'll never forget of Tozeur is the silence that permeated the air - not a hostile silence - just one of deep tranquillity.