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the Degree Confluence Project
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Tunisia

3.5 km (2.2 miles) WSW of al-Bulayda, al-Qayrawān, Tunisia
Approx. altitude: 169 m (554 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 36°S 170°W

Accuracy: 4 m (13 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: View towards the N of the Confluence #3: View towards the E of the Confluence #4: View towards the S of the Confluence #5: View towards the W of the Confluence #6: GPS reading #7: The Great Mosque of Kairouan, the fourth holiest site of Islam #8: The Capitol at Thuburbo Majus

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  36°N 10°E  

#1: General view of the Confluence (ca. 20 m away, direction NW)

(visited by Maeni)

10-Mar-2006 -- This Confluence is close-ish to the road from Tunis to Kairouan, one of the major attractions in Tunisia. Kairouan (al-Qayrawān) is the 4th holiest city of Islam (after Makka, Madīna, and Jerusalem).

I took the bus from Tunis to al-Faḥṣ, an industrial town of no tourist interest on the way to Kairouan about 50 km SSW of Tunis. 3 km before al-Faḥṣ are the ruins of the Roman city Thuburbo Majus. This is not one of the must-sees in Tunisia, but still quite interesting, even if you're not into archaeology. The driver dropped me off at the turnoff. There's a large Capitol, some nice mosaics and, of course, the bath.

From Thuburbo Majus I walked the 5 km to the louage (shared taxi) station of al-Faḥṣ. The road between al-Faḥṣ and Kairouan runs more or less in parallel to the 10 degree eastern longitude. The louage driver and the passengers waiting for the car to fill up looked very puzzled when I told them that I want to get off between the villages of Sīdī Nājī and Sibkha, from where the Confluence would be just a few kilometres away. Luckily on my map (Tunisie, of Kümmerly + Frey) there was a Roman bridge marked as point of interest, so I could at least tell them that I was interested in Roman architecture, which they found weird enough. I can't imagine what they would have thought if I had told them that I was going after a Confluence! From the 3D perspective on Google Earth I had an idea how the landscape would look like, so the river crossing was quite easy to identify. But there was no Roman bridge whatsoever, just a few stones that would only become part of a bridge using a lot of imagination. Now I understood why the louage passengers thought I was crazy.

I found a path leading east, in the direction my GPS told me to go. The landscape in that area is beautiful, though not very spectacular. But it makes a nice afternoon walk. From the river crossing it is around 5 km to the Confluence. I passed some very simple huts of local farmers. They didn't speak much French, so I just waved at them and they waved back very friendly. By now I had started to feel like doing something completely pointless. How different these people live here with their goats and sheep cultivating some vegetables in small fields! Can two worlds be farther apart? I felt like a Martian that had landed on the wrong planet. What if they knew that I was trying to find the crossing of two imaginary lines? They would probably think I was completely mad. And they were probably right! Or maybe they are not so simple people after all? Maybe they would perfectly understand that someone would have such an odd idea? Maybe this was just my perception of their perception of my quest for the Confluence (if they knew what I was going to do).

With these thoughts in mind, I was soon getting to the hilltop where I thought the Confluence should be. I could always follow a path except for the last 100 meters or so, which I thought was unusual, considering that there were just stones, a bit of grass, and bushes. Unfortunately, the Confluence was not on top of the hill but on the western slope, so there's a good view in only 2 directions, south and west. On the hills the herders keep their sheep, whereas the lower areas are cultivated, as these obviously get more water.

After my return to the road I hitched on a lorry to Sibkha, where there was still a louage filling up very slowly (they depart when full) that eventually brought me to Kairouan.


 All pictures
#1: General view of the Confluence (ca. 20 m away, direction NW)
#2: View towards the N of the Confluence
#3: View towards the E of the Confluence
#4: View towards the S of the Confluence
#5: View towards the W of the Confluence
#6: GPS reading
#7: The Great Mosque of Kairouan, the fourth holiest site of Islam
#8: The Capitol at Thuburbo Majus
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)