Travel Thursday Encore: Visions of Morocco

More of that Morocco/Tunisia tour. Last one.
Stream of consciousness begins. . . now!

Marrakesh: Who said Morocco could get cold?
Buildings can’t be taller than minarets, so if you find a way up there, you can see everything, including the landscapes I spent a day shooting in the mountains nearby, surrounded by birders, including a cute Irish redhead. The days are like El Lay, the nights colder, but last year at this time I was in Iceland, so I’m definitely not complaining. Having spent time at the ridiculousness that is the Djemaa el-Fna, I stayed away from this public loony bin that is the famous square this time; both my eyes and ears would have been sore after only a few minutes. I did buy some orange juice and nuts, to contribute to the local economy, not that it needed my help. Much more photogenic—and therefore photographed—is the Souk des Teinturiers, with all the brightly covered vats for dying clothes; as always orange is my fave, though they may call it saffron. It’s been called an ocher-colored city, and now I think I know what color that is. As for the important things, the train station has a McD’s, and the whole building has wifi. No doubt the most fun I had in town was shooting the caleche, which are green horse-drawn carriages. The only thing I treated myself to, believe it or not–mostly not, if you know me at all–was a visit to a spa, where for the first time I received a four-hand massage. . . I like it! Though they sure take their scrubbing seriously. Guess it’s not as bad as a Finn whacking you with branches, but still. . . I managed to turn down the henna body wrap rather easily. I even got a hand massage, as in my hands being massaged, after overdoing it on the photos. . .

Tangier is the Tijuana of Morocco. . .
Having once stayed at a villa in the hills, with the beautiful views of the ocean, I knew where to go to get the shots. The beaches are another place for fun shooting, but then when isn’t it? {Other than sand getting in your cameras.} Except for getting lost in this crazy medina, my fave thing in town is the American Legation Museum, which is the place where the U.S. ambassador parked his tushie for the 135 years after Morocco became the first country to formally recognize the United States of America. Today it mostly tells you about the many Americans who’d lived around here, the highlight most likely being a copy of a 1789 letter from George Washington to what he calls his “Great and Magnanimous Friend, the Emperor of Morocco.” Almost makes you wanna cry, huh?

Fes {or Fez}: Better around than inside
You know a medina is huge when it’s divided into 20 little medinas, and even the local guides get lost. Someone actually counted all the alleyways, lanes, and streets, coming close to 10,000. More interesting to me was the rumor that the town has the oldest university in the world! But since you’ve seen in the last few blogs what an archaeology geek I am, you shouldn’t be surprised I spent all of my spare time at Volubilis, which from AD45 to 285 was the capital of the local Roman province, the southernmost outpost of the vast empire. Home to at least 20,000 inhabitants during its peak, the city’s wealth was all olives and wheat. . . as well as supplying coliseums with the majority of their gladiator-fighting lions. Deserted by the 11th century, totally flattened by an earthquake in 1755, you can still see a triumphal arch, forum, and faded beautiful mosaics. Latin pop quiz: what does Volubilis mean?. . . yeah, right, you looked it up! It’s “morning glory.” Not going to go much into the history of the place, except to mention Cleopatra Selene, daughter of the famous Cleo, was married to Juba II, who was himself a descendant of Hannibal. Unfortunately Sultan Moulay Ismail raided the city’s remains in the 18th century for building materials to construct a vast nearby palace, and then the huge earthquake of 1755–same one that hit Portugal, if you’ve ever read Candide–finished it off. Today the site is about half excavated, showing off a bunch of lovely mosaics and buildings, with names like the House of the Athlete, the House of the Nymphs, the House of Dionysus, the House of the Euphebus, and the House of Orpheus. Fun to see a representation of party-animal Dionysus in the Islamic world in the mosaics, but easily my fave was the dolphin. . .

Ifrane: When you want it cold. . .
You don’t really expect a mountain resort–“little Switzerland,” they call it–40 miles from Fes, but here it is: alpine chalets, acres of trees, a mountain-fed lake, and a plaza with cafes and restaurants. They say it’s a good 30 to 40 degrees cooler than Fes in summer, and now with winter closing in, there’s a light dusting of snow. Always a big deal with the local rich, it’s even more so now that the latest king built a royal palace, plus a private university. Still, it came across as a happy place, with plenty of non-rich day-trippers getting their photos taken in the parks and going on hikes and picnics and such. I even had a pretty good steak here, with American ice cream–not mentioning corporation names–for dessert. The royal palace seems to take up most of one half of the lake, with white swans the only things getting past the guards, who do their best to look inconspicuous, though they can’t fool an expert. Fun fact: the Barbary macaque roosts in troops of 20 to 30–I woulda called it a gaggle. Unlike all other macaques, the females mate with all the males, which means they’re never sure of the offspring’s paternity. . . which means the males have to look after all the kiddies, not knowing which might be theirs. I’d tell ya to think about that in human terms, but I don’t want this blog to degenerate into porn. . . maybe later.

Oeurzazate: Don’t even try to pronounce it. . .
Hollywood, Bollywood. . . Ouarzazate? Yep, if you believe all the local tourism propaganda. They wanted to show me the huge movie studio, but I finally convinced them I was from Hollywood and seen it all. To me the most astonishing thing about the place was the quiet, and how laid-back everyone was. . . and I know you’re dying to find out: it’s pronounced War-za-zat. So it basically felt like a small vacation, with the only really important place to photo being the kasbah of Aït Ben Haddou, famous enough to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and just a fifteen minute drive from town. I’m told the site gets more than 130,000 visitors a year, but I was pretty alone as I shot crazily before anyone came along. As you might imagine, sunlight on the earthen walls makes for beautiful reflected light, but more importantly, as a James Bond fan. . . follow me if you can: the movie is The Living Daylights, toward the end when Bond and Kara are taken to Afghanistan and the crazy Russian general is making a drug deal. The Afghan resistance–the forefathers of the Taliban–attacks the Soviets and then runs off while the main actors jump into a huge plane and take off with the drugs. . . and a bad guy, and a bomb. A few minutes later Bond drops the bomb–literally–on a bridge, dropping it and the Soviet tanks. As the locals celebrate on horses, shooting their rifles into the air, in the distance you can see the beautiful hill town. . . and that’s what I was shooting.
Did not go any further into the desert on this trip. . .

Casablanca: it ain’t just a river in Egypt. . . I mean, a movie title
Hard to believe the city is only about 200 years old, making it slightly younger than El Lay. Actually more similar to Mexico City, it’s the place where the rural folk and immigrants go to make it rich. . . plus it’s known as the “big smoke.” Other than some French architecture, though, not all that great a place for sightseeing. South of Casablanca, on the other hand, is a long stretch of beach that makes up the country’s summer vacation spot; I’m told locals will pitch a tent–not a euphemism, this time–on the beach and stay there all of August. Had to spend a couple of days shooting the beaches here, and for whatever reason it was a lot more bo-ring than up in Tangier.

Tunisia for dessert
Tunisia looks exactly like it did on my last visit a few years ago, but it’s obvious to see the people are happier, maybe not so much with the government yet, but with the possibilities. Did manage to relax a couple of days on the lotus-eating island of Djerba, with its luxury hotels and casinos, as well as the place where the Mos Eisley exteriors were shot in Star Wars; turns out those were the droids you were looking for! Later, back on the mainland, I got to go to Luke’s uncle’s farm, but once again I missed Monty Python’s castle. The highlight was marching to the place where Luke stood and watched the sunset–only one sun, dammit!–while listening to John Williams and the London Symphony playing the music. . . with the Family Guy version in my head, to my chagrin.

Hmmmmm. . . off to pop the Star Wars DVD into the slot. . . see ya when I come up for air. . .

;o)

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Travel Thursday Encore: Morocco is Better than Rococo. . .

So, turns out I did write something substantial about that trip six years ago! Probably because of the visits to the Star Wars locales. From what I’ve heard some of them have deteriorated, been knocked down and built over, or simply drowned by the encroaching Sahara, which makes me all the more glad I got to see them.

Moorish proverb: He who does not travel will not know the value of men.

I’ve said this many times, but it certainly bears repeating: all the photos I take during these trips are the property of the company who pays me to go to such places and take photos, so I’m not allowed to show them. Some photographers scream bloody murder when they hear this, claiming they would never sell out in such a manner. I don’t agree, mostly because I’ve already been to most places, taken my own shots. I certainly don’t work 24/7, so I get plenty of time to explore on my own, as well as meet up with old friends, or see them compete in the Olympics or World Cups; had I not agreed to such a stipulation at Athens 2004, for example, I would have been sitting on my couch watching one of my favorite people in the world having a gold medal placed around her neck instead of taking a photo from about 30 feet away. Most importantly, I get paid for it! More than I would have made at home for the same amount of time and shooting. And I certainly haven’t paid for a vacation in years. . .
Okaaaay, on to da show!

Like most photographers, and possibly most people, wandering a medina, with a maze of mysterious alleys, is the most fun. Souks can be fun too, if you can take the incessant screaming for your attention and your dollars. {FYI: medina=old town; souk=marketplace. You’re welcome.} Morocco is probably the most Westernized Arabic/Muslim country, so there’s plenty that looks similar, yet still enough different for fun.
As always I tend to meander, in writing as well as in person, so here go a few interesting tidbits. Despite my knowledge of classics and archaeology, for example, I hadn’t known the Romans had been here, after the fall of Carthage. Said Roman colony was known as Ifrikiya in medieval times, which is the name “Africa” comes from. Cool, huh? Also, Berbers are named after the word “barbarian,” not the other way around; wonder how they feel about that.
Unfortunately, for a guy who likes walking around, traffic here reminds me of India, which is saying a lot. Even though I know this promise won’t last when I get back home, right now I feel like I’ll never complain about bad El Lay drivers again. I’m glad, at least, that I’m not driving; here’s an example. There aren’t that many roundabouts in the US, because there’d be too many macho accidents, but around the world you basically wait for an opening in the circular traffic before heading in. Not here; priority is given to those entering. Stupid and dangerous, even if you’re trying to cross the street. . . but then, I’m told this is a French invention, so go ahead and blame them.
The social stuff is a lot more. . . intriguing. For instance, the one time I was on the train, I quickly found that no one seems to get the point, or even the idea, of reserved seating. That’s just irritating, not shocking. . . no, shocking is reserved for sitting in an internet café next to some teenager watching hardcore porn. . . and no one around, especially the women, seem surprised. Suddenly the hotel’s wireless fee doesn’t look so bad. . .
Didja know that in Brazil it’s impolite to make the “OK” sign with your hand? Whereas at home I might wave my hand in the air, here the only way to ask someone to come over is by placing the palm down and literally sweeping the hand backward. Takes some getting used to. . .
Once again–I wished I’d told them I’d been to Morocco before–I was told about the Maezt-Dar L’Oudou, which I had them write down, as my French is rusty enough to be nonexistent. Basically translating to “Goat of the Lavatories,” it’s a spirit or poltergeist that inhabits toilets, and it only comes out at night, as you might expect. So there I am being told this in the restaurant as I needed to head to the head, so if you thought I was going to stick around to ask how to ward this bastard off–“Rukhsa, ya Mubariqin,” or “With your permission, O Blessed Ones”–you’re in for a long wait. Besides, I love to live on the edge. . . the edge of what, that’s the mystery.
On a non-completely-unrelated note, orange juice is everywhere, the national drink other than mint tea. I love oranges; I hate mints. I also love the hotel bathrooms. . .
And while we’re on the subject of bodily intake—and not the outtake—I was joined in one souk visit by a young lady of indeterminate European origin who was staying across the hall from me at the hotel. Being much more experimental than me–I asked if she meant more than just food, but she only grinned–she was easily persuaded to try a supposed local delicacy: animal penis. She didn’t even ask which animal, dove right in, making for yet more jokes I had to quash before they reached my mouth. . . though I couldn’t hold out when she claimed it was actually pretty good: “Knew it wasn’t your first time.” And then the guys in the stall laugh and tell her it wasn’t, just a trick they play on foreigners, which reminded me of my archaeology professor’s story about eating raw bat in a warrior ceremony on a desolate Pacific island, but we don’t have time for that now.
In fact, this intro has taken over, become its own blog entry, so more next week.

;o)

Travel Thursday Encore: Morocco and Tunisia

In this second installment of Travel Thursday Encores, I will be combining some really short blogs that read more like Twitter entries. Guess I felt too lazy that week six years ago to write any more than that.

What a way to watch soccer
Watched Liverpool/Newcastle in a Moroccan café, a very surreal experience, even though I think I’m the only one here not high.

It’s a tough, yawny job. . .
Off to sunrise beach shoot with a naked girl on a horse. Wish me luck. . .

Clarification
Apparently some people–hilariously–believed I was RIDING to the beach on a horse with a naked girl. Nope, my back won’t stand for riding anymore. In case you haven’t figured it out, I was taking photos of a model bareback–in more ways than one–on the beach during magic hour. . . though twenty years ago I might have liked the first idea better.

Moving in THAT direction
After hopefully a good night’s sleep, I’m off to Tunisia, and then maybe Libya. It’s been fun, Morocco, but I may have overdone it. . .

Inner geek, meet outer geek
Off to shoot Star Wars cantina exteriors. I should not be this excited. . .

;o)

Travel Thursday Snapshots: Tunisia after Djerba

(The Story of Djerba is in a previous blog.)
The ferry back to the mainland took only twenty minutes and wasn’t at all crowded, like most ferries on this sea. A call yesterday had nabbed me a car and driver, who grinned for some reason when told our destination would be Matmata. Commonly known as a Berber troglodyte settlement—which makes it sound worse than it was, considering how elegantly decorated some of the caves were—it had been a port founded by the Phoenicians, full of temples, the forum, baths, and a market, the kind of historical site where I could spend hours photographing and playing archaeologist.
Which I did, of course, but that wasn’t the actual reason for being here. Lunch wasn’t usually a highlight in my itineraries, except when it took place in a famous movie locale, in this case the interior of the Skywalker home in the first Star Wars movie. {The propaganda said it was the home of Luke Skywalker’s parents, which I promptly called them on; the English-speaking tour guide rolled his eyes and said new brochures were on the way, from a different printing company, that said “Luke’s aunt and uncle” in large print. Don’t know if that was truth.}
Despite its formal name of Sidi Driss Hotel, it was known locally as the Star Wars hotel, for obvious reasons, considering all the visitors it received. Since I can never get used to spicy food, I brought along my own provisions, but pretended to eat up as the owner regaled me with stories about the filming of the first movie, particularly how everything had been returned to normal after shooting, because no one figured it would be such a gigantic smash, but lucking out in that the crews came back and restored it to shoot Attack of the Clones.
As soon as lunch was over I smiled to myself, ready to immerse my photographic soul into shooting every inch of this place. The exteriors of this set were pretty far away, and best left for last, but the Mos Eisley exteriors, especially the cantina, from the first movie were a lot closer, and somewhere in between was the castle from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. And though it took a lot of slogging and I never had a chance to verify it was the right spot, the top of the dune where Luke watches the binary sunset was a bucket list moment.

;o)

Travel Thursday Snapshots: Djerba, Tunisia

No one told me to put on sunblock before going to bed at night. . .
Sighing heavily, knees creaking as my feet hit the floor, I walked over to the large window behind the bed, the stars of last night replaced by the heavy sunlight that had awakened me. Below the almost-tropical blue sky was a beach, though it had plenty of big rocks, enough to make real surf noise that had probably helped in lulling me to sleep last night, not an easy thing to do when you suffer from both insomnia and apnea. . . plus in this particular instance jetlag.
The scene made it easy to picture Odysseus’ men lazing on the sand while subsisting on lotus flowers, probably that blue water lily I’d seen on my first walk. Often called the “Polynesia of the Mediterranean,” Djerba was an island of palm trees and sandy beaches, along with the inevitable luxury hotels. What made it different than the rest of the Med, as well as the Carib, the Pacific, and basically everywhere else, was that it belonged to a Muslim country, albeit one not all that strict. Off the coast of Tunisia, Djerba not only had pirate castles, ancient synagogues, buildings that were featured in the original Star Wars (those were the droids you were looking for!) and open-air markets full of potters and silversmiths, it also had a casino. . . not that I would be wasting my time gambling, though I did hear there was a game room, with air hockey, Galaxian, skeeball, etc. You know, in case I got bored with all the sun. . .
Which I did, but not before walking what felt like the entire island’s circumference; at least my knees were creaking for an honest reason now. Realizing I was still early for dinner, I took the scenic route back to the hotel; unlike most tourists, I savored the moments amongst the locals, both their festivities and everyday work. How else would I have met so many friendly people, watched some dancers rehearsing for some festival, come across a wedding procession with the bride riding a camel? All soundtracked to melodious flutes and pulse-pounding tambourines.
And then end the day sharing the absolute splendor of a Mediterranean sunset with fishermen still casting their nets at this late hour, though I figured the clock didn’t matter, since fish don’t sleep.
Refreshed and relaxed without having stopped the walking, I wandered back towards the hotel, my mental GPS unerring as usual as I walked through shady gardens of fig, apple, and pomegranate; I’d grown up with a granada tree in the front yard, so I recognized that last fruit easily without wanting to reach up and grab one. Skipping the olive groves, though taking in the gnarled trunks that proved just how old civilization was on this island, I found myself high enough to look out, in the last dregs of post-sunset glow, to what I’d heard called The Island of the Pink Flamingo, as always wondering if it would be worth the trip. . .

;o)

Visions of Morocco

So, only a couple of months late. . . like to I’m improving, but I’m not.

Marrakesh: Who said Morocco could get cold?

Buildings can’t be taller than minarets, so if you find a way up there, you can see everything, including the landscapes I spent a day shooting in the mountains nearby, surrounded by birders, including a cute Irish redhead. The days are like El Lay, the nights colder, but last year at this time I was in Iceland, so I’m definitely not complaining. Having spent time at the ridiculousness that is the Djemaa el-Fna, I stayed away from this public loony bin that is the famous square this time; both my eyes and ears would have been sore after only a few minutes. There’s nothing a traveling girl likes more than getting a henna tattoo on her hand; too bad there were no such girls around. . . I did have some orange juice and nuts to contribute to the local economy, not that it needed my help. Much more photogenic—and therefore photographed—is the Souk des Teinturiers, with all the brightly covered vats for dying clothes; as always orange is my fave, though they may call it saffron. It’s been called an ocher-colored city, and now I think I know what color that is. . . As for the important things, the train station has a McD’s, and the whole building has wifi. No doubt the most fun I had in town was shooting the caleche, which are green horse-drawn carriages. There’s a big deal going on now about how the horses are treated, with an association named Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad www.spana.org giving a seal of approval to those who do it right; go to those so those who don’t see why it’s a good idea. The only thing I treated myself to, believe it or not–mostly not, if you know me at all–a visit to a spa, where for the first time I received a four-hand massage. . . I like it! Though they sure take their scrubbing seriously. Guess it’s not as bad as a Finn whacking you with branches, but still. . . I managed to turn down the henna body wrap rather easily. . . I even got a hand massage, as in my hands being massaged, after overdoing it on the photos. . .

Tangier is the Tijuana of Morocco. . .

Having one stayed at a villa in the hills, with the beautiful views of the ocean, I knew where to go to get the shots. The beaches are another place for fun shooting, but then when isn’t it? {Other than sand getting in your cameras.} Other than getting lost in this crazy medina, my fave thing in town is the American Legation Museum, which s the place where the U.S. ambassador parked his tushie for the 135 years after Morocco became the first country to formally recognize the United States of America. Today it mostly tells you about the many Americans who’d lived around here, the highlight most likely being a copy of a 1789 letter from George Washington to what he calls his “Great and Magnanimous Friend, the Emperor of Morocco.” Almost makes you wanna cry, huh?

Fes {or Fez}: Better around than inside

You know a medina is huge when it’s divided into 20 little medinas, and even the local guides get lost. Someone actually counted all the alleyways, lanes, and streets, coming close to 10,000. More interesting to me was the rumor that the town has the oldest university in the world! But since you’ve seen in the last few blogs what an archaeology geek I am, you shouldn’t be surprised I spent all of my spare time at Volubilis, which from AD45 to 285 was the capital of the local Roman province, the southernmost outpost of the vast empire. Home to at least 20,000 inhabitants during its peak, the city’s wealth was all olives and wheat. . .  as well as supplying coliseums with the majority of their gladiator-fighting lions. Deserted by the 11th century, totally flattened by an earthquake in 1755, you can still see a triumphal arch, forum, and faded beautiful mosaics.  Latin pop quiz: what does Volubilis mean?. . . yeah, right, you looked it up! It’s “morning glory.” Not going to go much into the history of the place, except to mention the obvious tie-in with someone we learned about a few weeks ago, Cleopatra Selene, daughter of the famous Cleo, married to Juba II, who was himself a descendant of Hannibal. Unfortunately Sultan Moulay Ismail raided the city’s remains in the 18th century for building materials to construct a vast nearby palace. And then the huge earthquake of 1755–same one that hit Portugal, if you’ve ever read Candide–finished it off. Today the site is about half excavated, showing off a bunch of lovely mosaics and buildings, with names like the House of the Athlete, the House of the Nymphs, the house of Dionysus, the House of the Euphebus, and the House of Orpheus. Fun to see a representation of party-animal Dionysus in the Islamic world in the mosaics, but easily my fave was the dolphin. . .

Ifrane: When you want it cold. . .

You don’t really expect a mountain resort–“little Switzerland,” they call it–40 miles from Fes, but here it is: alpine chalets, acres of trees, a mountain-fed lake, and a plaza with cafes and restaurants. They say it’s a good 30 to 40 degrees cooler than Fes in summer, and now with winter closing in there’s a light dusting of snow. Always a big deal with the local rich, it’s even more so now that the latest king built a royal palace, plus a private university. Still, it came across as a happy place, with plenty of non-rich day-trippers getting their photos taken in the parks and going on hikes and picnics and such. I even had a pretty good steak here, with American ice cream–not mentioning corporation names–for dessert. The royal palace seems to take up most of one half of the lake, with white swans the only things getting past the guards, who do their best to look inconspicuous, though they can’t fool an expert. Fun fact: the Barbary macaque roosts in troops of 20 to 30–I woulda called it a gaggle. Unlike all other macaques, the females mate with all the males, which means they’re never sure of the offspring’s paternity. . . which means the males have to look after all the kiddies, not knowing which might be theirs. I’d tell ya to think about that in human terms, but I don’t want this blog to degenerate into porn. . . maybe later.

Oeurzazate: Don’t even try to pronounce it. . .

Hollywood, Bollywood. . . Ouarzazate? Yep, if you believe all the local tourism propaganda. It also seems to be the local version of Palm Springs, but no need to get into that, other than to mention it has the most sunny days of anywhere in the country. They wanted to show me the huge movie studio, but I finally convinced them I was from Hollywood and seen it all. To me the most astonishing thing about the place was the quiet, and how laid-back everyone was. . . and I know you’re dying to find out: it’s pronounced War-za-zat. So it basically felt like a small vacation, with the only really important place to photo being the kasbah of Aït Ben Haddou, famous enough to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and just a fifteen minute drive from town. I’m told the site gets more than 130,000 visitors a year, but I was pretty alone as I shot crazily before anyone came along. As you might imagine, sunlight on the earthen walls makes for beautiful reflected light, but more importantly, as a James Bond fan. . . Follow me if you can: the movie is The Living Daylights, toward the end when Bong and Kara are taken to Morocco and the crazy Russian general is making a drug deal. The Afghan resistance–the forefathers of the Taliban–attacks the Soviets and then runs off while the main actors jump into a huge plane and take off with the drugs. . . and a bad guy, and a bomb. A few minutes later Bond drops the bomb–literally–on a bridge, dropping it and the Soviet tanks. As the locals celebrate on horses, shooting their rifles into the air, in the distance you can see the beautiful hill town. . . Did not go any further into the desert on this trip. . .

Casablanca: it ain’t just a river in Egypt. . . I mean, a movie title

Hard to believe the city is only about 200 years old, making it slightly younger than El Lay. Actually more similar to Mexico City, it’s the place where the rural folk and immigrants go to make it rich. . . plus it’s known as the “big smoke.” Other than some French architecture, though, not all that great a place for sightseeing. South of Casablanca, on the other hand, is a long stretch of beach that makes up the country’s summer vacation spot; I’m told locals will pitch a tent–not a euphemism, this time–on the beach and stay there all of August. Had to spend a couple of days shooting the beaches near Casablanca, and for whatever reason it was a lot more bo-ring than up in Tangier.

Tunisia for dessert

Tunisia looks exactly like it did on my last visit a few years ago, but it’s obvious to see the people are happier, maybe not so much with the government yet, but with the possibilities. Did manage to relax a couple of days on the lotus-eating island of Djerba, with its luxury hotels and casinos, as well as the place where the Mos Eisley exteriors were shot in Star Wars; turns out those were the droids you were looking for! Later, back on the mainland, I got to go to Luke’s uncle’s farm, but once again I missed Monty Python’s castle. The highlight was marching to the place where Luke stood and watched the sunset–only one sun, dammit!–while listening to John Williams and the London Symphony playing the music. . . with the Family Guy version in my head, to my chagrin.

Hmmmmm. . . off to pop the Star Wars DVD into the slot. . . see ya when I come up for air. . .

;o)