However, when it is not maintained properly because the inhabitants have left the village, would you bet what will last the most ? The troglodytic part, of course ! Then, in Douirat, you will often see houses where the troglodytic part is kept, with the wooden floor at mi height, while most of the outer part, man built, has collapsed !
Though Ksar Ouled Debbab is only 13 kilometers away from Douirat, it is completely different. The first characteristic feature is that it is not clutched to the mountain but laying in the plain. At first, you will not see it on this picture. You will have to enlarge it to spot Ksar Ouled Debbab in the background, at some distance.
Inside the ksar, several parts are separated and have an internal entrance. Like that, even if plunderers could come in, they had to win another deffence to get there. "Ouled Debbab" means "the children" or "the family" of Debbab. That is what is sometimes called a tribe but that ethnologists prefer to call "extended family". : people who are believed to come from a single ancestor (here "Debbab") with servants that have been with them for generations. Not very different from the Scottish "clans".
At first, Douirat seems much less impressive than Chenini. It shows only two rows of houses under a cliff and a white mosque in the middle. If you enlarge the picture, you will see in the plain but right at the foot of the hill 5 small buildings. They are "marabout" (see following tips).
When you get closer to Douirat, you see that what looked like a cliff is actually the highest part of the village. The cliff has been carved and the extracted material have been used to build the outer part of the houses ! This is why they melt so completely into the landscape !
This is a close up on the small building in the plain, seen from the village (previous tip). Even when you are close, it is small. It is one of this numerous "marabout" that you find in Tunisia. On a previous tip, 5 of them could be seen as little dots on the picture. If you enlarge the photo, you will see that it is surrounded by the cemetery. Each marabout is built to honor a saint. In the largest one, a family lives and takes care of the marabout, leaving on the donations given by visitors.
Children have often to walk several kilometers to go to school. Here, in the background, the school and in the foreground four children waiting the time to go to school. When there are not enough schools, half of the children go to school in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Tunisia is trying to improve this, but in the poorest part of the country, I am not sure that there is now school all day long for everybody.
When we visited Douirat, it was already half deserted. I have been told that now, it is completely deserted. When you look at this picture, you understand how hard was the life in such a surroundings, which was a perfect shelter against enemies but were everything, including water is in the valley and has to be brought up by women.
At the end of the visit, the young boy that was our guide posed in front of his village. He asked us to send him the picture. It is very important, when you promise to send the picture of some ones that, once home, you actually send it. Otherwise, they will never trust next visitors and ask for money. Immediately ! Never give money for a photo but send the photo !
The houses, the walls and the soil have all the same reddish color, which is not a surprise as all the material to build the houses have been collected locally, in the close neighbourhood. A lane winds up to the top of the village, under a burning sun.
As already said, a ksar is a fortified village built for protection from looters and plunderers. In Douirat, the protection came from building high on the hill. Here the protection comes from building houses ("ghorfas") around a square pattern, closed to the outside, open towards the inside.
Ksar Ouled Debbab is just by the side of the paved road from Tatahouine but to reach Chenini and Douiret, you must drive on rocky trails. Travel agencies say that a 4x4 is necessary. This is not completely true (and most locals don't drive 4x4) but even if you can do it with a good regular car, you will be safer in a 4x4.
Suddenly, behind a bend of the winding and rocky trail, the village of Chenini appears. It is clutched to the mountain, on several levels. Each row corresponds to a narrow path between the houses. It is almost looking like some ruined and huge castle.
Still between Chenini and Douirat, it seems to be laundry day. Linen and clothes are washed at a spring where water is kept in several basins. The drying takes place at the same place. Everything is spread on the rocky soil, and makes amazing color dots on the mountain. They will be soon completely dry.
This is the cemetery around the marabout. Grave are completely unsophisticated, as required by Islam. The grave of a man is signaled by one standing stone, the grave of a woman by two standing stones. This part of the cemetery shows only men graves. In the foreground, a freshly dug grave, covered with stones. Along the time, plants grow on the grave and the standing stone is the only thing that can be seen.