Bir Barouta

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Bir Barouta is one of the sights included in the multi-sight ticket for Kairouan. I had read negative reports in the guide books and rather discounted it. Our driver guide had different ideas.

It is in a domed building in the centre of the Medina which looks a bit like a Mosque. It was built in the 17thC to surround the Holy Well of Okba ibn Nafi. A blindfolded camel decorated with scarves by women wanting a baby, plods round turning a large wooden wheel used to raise the water. He is controlled by man hitting a stick on the floor to give instructions – stop, start. A second smaller wheel with jugs is used to pour water into cups for tourists to drink, for an obligatory tip. (We declined the water and didn’t leave a tip.) We were the only people there and it wasn’t as tacky as I feared. Time your visit carefully to avoid the crowds. There is little space and would be bloody if busy.

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