Ahmed el Fazaa, Son of the Desert

Through my parents we were brought in touch with this rascal, who would be our guide in Libya. This bear of a man, tough, witty, and sharp as a knife (especially when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy) revealed to us his hidden passions and past during our extensive travels through Libya (and Algeria, but that’s a different story). Looks and words are not always what they seem, as Ahmed proved during the many hours and kilometers we spend on the road.
A solid man in a storm, reliable, proud of his country and heritage, extremely knowledgeable about the Libyan deserts (where he spends as much time as possible), and a man of his word. But more important, a true friend.
Ahmed, since we have left Libya we have sorely missed you! On many occasions we have wished you were here, still travelling with us. In bad times so we can support each other, and smile at life’s setbacks. In good times so we can return the incredible hospitality you have shown us, and share the wonders of the world.

We will meet again, Inshallah.

Harry and Elk

We could not help but notice a large green Mercedes 4x4 truck from the 70’s with German number plates as we arrived on a camping in Douz. To our amazement, the owners started packing their gear as soon as they spotted us. We waved them goodbye. They stopped, surprised that we were waving, and asked about our nationality. ‘No, we are not French, that’s just our number plates!’ ‘We are Dutchies!’ Imagine our mirth as they explained they were leaving because they thought we were French. Since that day, we have shared the road, food and drinks, experiences, laughter and most importantly companionship. We have travelled with Harry and Elk through the deserts of Southern Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Harry is an experienced desert and tropical traveler. Always in for a joke and a giggle, he has us on the floor with his impersonation of a typical North-African merchantman (‘Come come my friend, looky looky platz special’). When he is not on the road, he paints and sculpts in Germany. Elk is in many ways his opposite, most clearly early in the mornings. Just as funny, he adds a dry sense of humor to the equation, and has a special nose for finding the way and supplies (like beer...). Elk works in the advertising business. Every year Harry and Elk leave their girlfriends and family behind for several months, to broaden their horizons in warmer surroundings...

Taufik

When we arrived at the Maison des Jeunes in Sousse, Taufik welcomed us. Upon hearing our garbled and incorrect French, he immediately recognized us as being Dutch, and seamlessly switched to our mother tongue. Imagine our surprise, when he explained his wife works in Scheveningen, not five kilometers from our house in The Hague. He speaks Arab, French, Dutch, German, and a little English and Swedish.
Taufik showed us what Tunisian hospitality can be like by providing an endless supply of tea, advice about navigating Sousse and by introducing us to the other employees of the Maison. This hostel/camping ground doubles as a social project aimed at keeping the local teenagers off the streets. The dedication of the people working here fills us with deep respect and admiration for the Tunisian society.

We will always be thankful to Taufik, for our first real warm welcome to Tunisia!

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