Becoming a Cave Woman

Matmata, Tunisia
Jan 11, 2019

The south of Tunisia bordering the desert is mostly arid, riddled with craggy hills and caves. Many are the caves that have been home to troglodytes in times past and some still are. Better yet, some of the caves are now hotels. Years ago, I remember staying in a cave hotel in Cappadocia; I couldn’t wait to go!

The steady drizzle that started in Gabes had become a downpour as the louage lurched along. Right on cue, that changed into pelting rain as I stumbled out and pulled on the backpack. Even the touts had deserted their posts at the bus station except for one hardy soul. He made a token effort then scurried off to a café and I trudged off getting wetter and colder by the minute.

One last corner and there it was; an innocuous blue door set in the rockface. Inside I find a small space open to the sky with tunnels running off it. One leads to a large cave, the reception area, with more tunnels leading off from it in different directions. Numb extremities are forgotten as I gawk and grin.

Down one tunnel and up another, I am taken to my room. Cut out of rock is a large circular area, open to the sky. Rooms are carved out of rock along the perimeter on multiple levels. A deep-set door creaks open and I peer into my room.

The artistically uneven domed ceiling, walls with niches that serve as shelves and raised platforms for the beds are all carved out of rock. The shiver that goes up my spine is in equal parts from cold and delight. I am going to love being a cave woman! The icing on the cake is the temperature difference. The thick rock walls ensure it is several degrees warmer than outside; I dance a little jig of joy much to the amusement of the staff.

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