Written by : Hatem Dhwibi

 

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Do you believe in ghosts? Well… they exist, says Hatem Dhwibi.

Two people I know were staying in hotel Fort of Ostriches for few days, in the morning, I went to pay them a visit in their hotel room. The place was just fine, I went to the reception desk and the guy who works there informed me about their room’s number and the way to it, the area was calm but calm in an unusual way. We met, shake hands, start a conversation, they were doing fine except at night when they start hearing doors shut and open violently and when they hear footsteps then a voice that come by their door to call their names when they were the only guests there, it was not the workers’ voice.

Hotel Fort of Ostriches exists in Kébili since 1880, built by the french military at the period of the French colonization as a military tower and it used to be called ‘Borj Philbert’. In 1981, the hotel was bought by Saiid Amri who still owns the hotel up to the current day. Said Amri works in the sector of tourism since October the 12th 1965, he is one of the people who encouraged desert tourism in Kébili but for some reasons he was unable to maintain the service’s quality of the hotel, Fort of Ostriches still preserves its archaeological value but it is no longer active like it used to be years ago. Despite this, tourists still come and stay there as they enjoy its root age.

My older sister worked in this hotel more than 25 years ago. She told me about the room 15 which caused them a lot of trouble as something refused to let the room stay clean and arranged, she also told me about some scary stories that happened to her co-workers. As I was walking around the different parts of the hotel, I noticed that there were a lot of abandoned suites and locked rooms, I asked the guy who accompanies me in my tour to take me to the room 15, he was shocked and he refused without hesitation, I insisted so he showed me where it was located and he warned me that ghosts are concentrated there. Not only room 15 but the whole suite was looking scary, the scenery was grey and gloomy, I walked in and entered the rooms I could, I felt some shudder as I heard some weird noises but I pulled myself together and took some pictures. The story behind the existence of these ghosts there is still unknown for most of the people I asked, it may be because these rooms were abandoned for a very long period and they were not amended, or may be the spirits of the couple who died there ages ago because of a love story and buried in the natural water well upon which the hotel was built are still there though I’ve been told that this story was nothing but an old fairy tale. I actually don’t know the reason but I know that no one was ever harmed, people get afraid, it’s a nature but no one ever was damaged or possessed. ‘Ghosts don’t hurt people, people hurt people’, this is what I learnt from this journey because if this hotel was taking care of and run by the right people, things there would be different. The location and the architecture of hotel Fort of Ostriches is fabulous but people who work there and even the citizens are complaining about the poor state of the hotel as it is one of the symbols of the city. The hotel is still alive, trying to survive asking for a second breath. Saiid Amri seemed helpless, unable to find a solution or he is maybe careless, his one hand anyway won’t be able to clap on its own, Fort of Ostriches needs the hand of the people.