A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...OK maybe it wasn't so long ago, but it was pretty far away. Jared and I traveled together to visit Star Wars film sites from Tunisia to Norway. The trip lasted for a month, covered thousands of miles, and cost more then we had planned, but it was worth it. I returned home with the memories of a wonderful vacation, a few small props, and some dirt from distant worlds.
The whole thing started in February of 1999. I was checking the daily Star Wars news at www.countingdown.com when I saw a posting from Jared describing his upcoming journey. He was looking for someone to travel with, which I dismissed at first, but over the next couple of days I thought about it more and more. I had the free time, being unemployed and all, and I had the money so why not? We emailed back and forth to work out all of the details and get to know each other. Then soon after it was time to begin our adventure.
On May 26, 1999 I flew to Detroit and met Jared for the first time. The next day we were on a plane to Rome, Italy. The only reservations we made for the entire trip were for our flights, which always made it a challenge to find a place to stay or transportation to our next destination. After locating a hostel in Rome with vacancy we did all of the normal tourist activities for the next two days as well as seeing an opera called Aida. We planned to see Naples next but after arriving in the city and checking the port we discovered that the Tunisia ferry would be leaving in ten minutes so we hopped aboard. It was lucky that we did because later we found out that the ferries only run twice a week.
Once we arrived in Tunis we began to work our way through the city towards the bus station. Along the way we saw a familiar hotel. It looked almost exactly like the sandcrawler that was used in the movie by the Jawas. Our bus took us to Tozeur where we checked into a hotel for the next couple of days. At sunrise we rented a car and went to look for a guide. Before leaving the USA, I had read about a man that worked in the Tozeur tourist office. We received a few strange looks when we walked in and asked for Hamida Chebi, but he came out to meet us after a minute. He agreed to show us around and surprised us by pulling out a Star Wars movie storybook as well as some pictures taken on the Episode I set during filming.
Soon after we were on a dirt road that stretched to another galaxy. Along the way we passed a camel shaped rock formation that was in the English Patient and the area where Darth Maul landed on Tatooine. A little farther was Mos Espa, but we were quickly reminded that we were on Earth, in the Sahara Desert, when our car got stuck in the sand. We were unsuccessful in dislodging our vehicle so we proceeded on foot. Our walk to Anakin's hometown was short. On the left we saw the landing area for the Queen's starship and on the right was the small Mos Espa set. The desert was beginning to reclaim this land, but it was in amazing shape for being two years old. This was where Anakin built his Podracer and Jar Jar got his hand stuck in one of the engines. While there I collected a sample of Tatooine sand and some plaster used to build the set.