The beautiful Sahara sunset and the ugly Sahara reality – Douz, Tunisia

Douz is known as the ‘gateway to the Sahara’, the largest desert in the world. It’s what’s called an oasis. I always imagined an oasis to be a small puddle of water with a few palmtrees next to it (I blame cartoons for this), but there’s actually a very large piece of land filled with palm trees. I went here in the summer of 2014 with my boyfriend on a group excursion. We arrived early in the evening and after we had dinner, we had the chance to go deltaflying. Afterwards we got to ride dromedaries and watch the sunset.

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The deltaflying meant that you could take place on a tiny motorized plane for a few minutes. Unfortunately, you couldn’t take pictures during the flight, but the view was amazing. On the one side, you would see a huge area covered in green palm trees and on the other side, you would see a seemingly endless plain full of light, sandy hills.

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Riding a dromedary was really cool. I even got to ride one by myself, the owner just handed me the rope. I mean, these dromedaries probably walk the same path everyday and knew exactly where they were going, but it still felt sort of special. We rode until all we could see was sandy hills and dromedaries. There were also some people on horses offering us to switch for a little money. We didn’t bring any money with us here though and I thought riding a dromedary was more special than riding a horse anyway. We got off the dromadaries and sat in the sand for a while. I always thought desert sand would be like the sand on the beach, but it’s actually more like dust than like sand. The sunset was very beautiful to watch. We took a lot of pictures and walked around in the sand.

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Animals generally are not treated very well in this part of Tunisia. That is why it was to our great pleasure to see one of the dromedaries pee on the shoes of its owner. He then had to walk back barefoot. On the other hand, the people here don’t have it easy either. That became clear to us when a few people came to us asking for money after we got off the dromedaries. When we explained  that we were sorry but we didn’t bring any money, the beggar excused himself as well and explained that he had participated in the Ramadan the whole day and was just craving a cigarette. I can only imagine how hard it is if you’re working in the Sahara sun the whole day and you’re not allowed to eat or drink. He then told us about the poverty in the south compared to the great wealth in the north and how unequally the wealth was distributed. And that no one was allowed to say anything about it, otherwise they would be silenced.

Tunisia is very beautiful, but of course it isn’t perfect. There are still many issues in the country and many people are dependent on the generosity of tourists. And now that there have been attacks on tourists this summer and Tunisia has a negative travel advice, I don’t think it is going to get better soon.

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