Djerba, Tunisia trip – 1. Plans

10 years ago I finished doing an IT work in the Portsmouth and Southampton areas of UK where I am from, to go and volunteer in Jerusalem Israel helping a Christian charity helping Jewish people.

Since then, I like to go on small trips to different places, but particularly with places of religious significance, as well as lots of parts of Israel where I lived between 2009-2013, I’ve seen amazing Christian places in Turkey, and Jewish places in the diaspora in Europe, and more exotic places like Fez Morocco.

So I am excited to be going to Tunisia in November 2019.

Djerba is where I am going to.   Its an island connected to the west coast of this North African nation.

I really want to find out about:-

  • The small remaining active Jewish community which was this island is most famous for.   Possibly the very last thriving Jewish community in a Islamic country.
  • Star Wars filming locations, Luke’s village in the original 1977 New Hope is not far from here in a village called Matmata
  • How the tourism industry operates since threats of terrorism and recent collapse of British tour operator Thomas Cook
  • Food
  • Is their Christians there in the past or today
  • Landscapes especially The Sahara Desert
  • What do Muslim and Jewish people think of Star Wars

I thought this place would be extremely close culturally to Morocco, but from the research I’m doing, they are quite different, although both are French and Arabic speak Muslim nations.

IMG_20190928_104741694They are not many recent travel books.   This Rough Guides I found on ebay is from 2001, doesn’t appear to be a more recent one, and seems to have come from a library.

1. Plans – 2. French Connection – 3. My hotel in Djerba – 4. El Griba synagogue outside – 5. El Griba synagogue inside – 6. Markets – 7. Christianity in Tunisia – 8. Ferry to mainland Tunisia – 9. Getting to Matmata, Tunisia – 10. Sidi Idris Hotel New Hope Star Wars filmset – 11. Secrets I learnt about the famous Matmata Star Wars set – 12. Cave homes for would-be Jedis – 13. More what you don’t see in Star Wars at Hotel Sidi Idris – 14. How hospitable is Sidi Idris? – 15. ATM machines and drought – 16. Matmata Nouvelle (New Matmata) – 17. Tunisian butchers and fisherman – 18. Libyan and Algerian neighbours – 19. Jewellery businesses in Djerba – 20. Tunisia and Israel relations – 21. Hara Kebira, Jewish school, soap and TV repair shops – 22. Jewish community of Hara Kebira – 23. Going home

Easter is truly about the greatest story ever told

Is the story of Jesus relevant today to those who are not Christian?   I have been thinking about some well loved movies and these recent stories has some startlingly similar elements to them.

The Matrix

Thomas Anderson aka ‘Neo’ is picked by his new employers to save the world, aside from as a software developer he does not really have the means to be a slick, fast thinking and smart super agent.  However his mentor Morpheus soon get him trained up and running.  Here just like Jesus was tempted in the desert, Neo is searched at his work place and consequently arrested and offered to have criminal accusations dropped in return to cooperate with the demands of Smith and his secret police.

Rather than walking on water, Morpheus teaches Neo that he can do miracles if he just trusts he can do it, ie: leap off of buildings and jump huge heights to another location, and cheat death by bouncing off the road, or dodge bullets.

Of course here, one of the members of the team, Cypher is really a defector working for Agent Smith.  Judas in the bible had the responsibility of looking after finances, here Cypher has the responsibility of being the main IT systems administrator and to oversee possible security threats to his employer, in both circumstances these roles are abused.  Instead of pieces of silver, Cypher sits in a software-virtualised high class restaurant and is told he can have ‘anything you want!’ by Agent Smith if he traitorously turns over the secrets of his organisation.

The Bible calls Satan the Father of all lies, and here in the Matrix, Agent Smith can easily clone himself or morph himself or his minions into any kind of person to his deceptive advantage.

1) Egypt banned the Matrix film because it contained the word ‘Zion’
2) The ship the Nebuchadnezzar has an inscription that reads “Mark III No. 11 made in the USA year 2069.” Mark 3:11 reads “And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, they would fall down in front of him shrieking, ‘You are the Son of God!'” – quoted from Wikipedia

Star Wars

Here as an enthusiastic young man who group up an ordinary background wanting to become part of the rebel alliance, Luke Skywalker has two mentors Obi Wan Kanobi and Yoda, both of these well respected individuals die, well they actually just seem to suddenly fade away, but only to be still around in spirit offering help when Luke goes through tough decisions.

Later on when Luke has a showdown with the Emperor, he is tempted by ‘I am unarmed, strike me down’ encouraging Luke to be more angry and resentful, seeing as he made his father turn away from good to evil.   Of course Luke after getting caught in this mistake before, he knows this is a trap and that the Emperor gets more powerful from absorbing hate, and uses talk of good things to ultimately defeat this particular character of Satan.

Of course, I do also like the building and scenery from Star Wars with white stone buildings although in a futuristic setting, and not a million miles away from the ancient buildings I see around in Jerusalem.

Fact: Endor, the home of the Ewoks tree top village, is also a place in the Bible.  See Joshua 17 1-12

Red Dwarf

In one episode, the four members of the ship Starbug, are looking for an essential spare part on a seemingly empty planet until a strange entity suddenly appears (voiced by actor Stephen Fry)  who announces himself as ‘My name is Legion, for we are many’  here there is an exact reference to a demon that spoke in Mark 5 : 10.

The Lion Witch & the Wardrobe.

Where as CS Lewis was a Christian, this probably has to be as a fictional story, the most closest set of ideas with Aslan the lion who mimics the death and resurrection of Jesus and with Eustace who betrayed Aslan for some Turkish Delight, albeit with a smaller (4 I think?) number of followers that the original 12.

Here, I think even the most hardened atheist should agree that the story of Jesus’s birth, ministry work, death and resurrection has had elements imitated in most probably thousands of books and movies ever since, we should be thankful for that the story this Easter really is part of the Greatest story ever told. 🙂

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