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Fountains in the Sand Rambles Among the Oases of Tunisia   By: (1868-1952)

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[Illustration: Photo Portrait Girl in Shawl]

FOUNTAINS IN THE SAND

RAMBLES AMONG THE OASES OF TUNISIA

By Norman Douglas

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. EN ROUTE

II. BY THE OUED BAIESH

III. THE TERMID

IV. STONES OF GAFSA

V. SIDI AHMED ZARROUNG

VI. AMUSEMENTS BY THE WAY

VII. AT THE CAFÉ

VIII. POST PRANDIAL MEDITATIONS

IX. SOME OF OUR GUESTS

X. THE OASIS OF LEILA

XI. A HAVEN OF REFUGE

XII. THE MYSTERIOUS COUNT

XIII. TO METLAOUI

XIV. PHOSPHATES

XV. THE SELDJA GORGE

XVI. AT THE HEAD OF THE WATERS

XVII. ROMAN OLIVE CULTURE

XVIII. THE WORK OF PHILIPPE THOMAS

XIX. OVER GUIFLA TO TOZEUR

XX. A WATERY LABYRINTH

XXI. OLD TISOUROS

XXII. THE DISMAL CHOTT

XXIII. THE GARDENS OF NEFTA

XXIV. NEFTA AND ITS FUTURE

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

GAFSA AND JEBEL ORBATA

ENTRANCE TO THE TERMID

AT THE TERMID

A STREET IN GAFSA

HADRIAN'S INSCRIPTION

THE LAST PALMS

CAFÉ BY THE MULBERRY TREE

MY FRIEND SILENUS

NATIVES OF GAFSA

THE ROMAN WALL

OLIVES IN THE OASIS

TOZEUR AND ITS OASIS

THE WATERS OF TOZEUR

THE SHRINE ON THE CHOTT

MARABOUT IN THE NEFTA GARDENS

A BEGGAR

FOUNTAINS IN THE SAND

Chapter I

EN ROUTE

Likely enough, I would not have remained in Gafsa more than a couple of days. For it was my intention to go from England straight down to the oases of the Djerid, Tozeur and Nefta, a corner of Tunisia left unexplored during my last visit to that country there, where the inland regions shelve down towards those mysterious depressions, the Chotts, dried up oceans, they say, where in olden days the fleets of Atlantis rode at anchor....

But there fell into my hands, by the way, a volume that deals exclusively with Gafsa Pierre Bordereau's "La Capsa ancienne: La Gafsa moderne" and, glancing over its pages as the train wound southwards along sterile river beds and across dusty highlands, I became interested in this place of Gafsa, which seems to have had such a long and eventful history. Even before arriving at the spot, I had come to the correct conclusion that it must be worth more than a two days' visit.

The book opens thus: One must reach Gafsa by way of Sfax. Undoubtedly, this was the right thing to do; all my fellow travellers were agreed upon that point; leaving Sfax by a night train, you arrive at Gafsa in the early hours of the following morning.

One must reach Gafsa by way of Sfax....

But a fine spirit of northern independence prompted me to try an alternative route. The time table marked a newly opened line of railway which runs directly inland from the port of Sousse; the distance to Gafsa seemed shorter; the country was no doubt new and interesting. There was the station of Feriana, for instance, celebrated for its Roman antiquities and well worth a visit; I looked at the map and saw a broad road connecting this place with Gafsa; visions of an evening ride across the desert arose before my delighted imagination; instead of passing the night in an uncomfortable train, I should be already ensconced at a luxurious table d'hôte, and so to bed.

The gods willed otherwise.

In pitch darkness, at the inhuman hour of 5.55 a.m., the train crept out of Sousse: sixteen miles an hour is its prescribed pace. The weather grew sensibly colder as we rose into the uplands, a stricken region, tree less and water less, with gaunt brown hills receding into the background; by midday, when Sbeitla was reached, it was blowing a hurricane. I had hoped to wander, for half an hour or so, among the ruins of this old city of Suffetula, but the cold, apart from their distance from the station, rendered this impossible; in order to reach the shed where luncheon was served, we were obliged to crawl backwards, crab wise, to protect our faces from a storm which raised pebbles, the size of respectable peas, from the ground, and scattered them in a hail about us. I despair of giving any idea of that glacial blast: it was as if one stood, deprived of clothing, of skin and flesh a jabbering anatomy upon some drear Caucasian pinnacle... Continue reading book >>




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