Thursday, 25 November 2010
Saturday, 6 November 2010
Hi from Clare Central West Tunisia Thursday 4th November 2010 SIGHTS TO SEE With most of the work behind us we now have time to do some sight seeing. Our English friends John and Jan on “Brigantia” (Photo 1) came with us on a three day land tour of the central west of Tunisia. We traveled some 1200 km and saw an amphitheatre (Photo 2), an art and craft museum, a museum on the history of Tunisia, a Berber village (Photo 3 & 4), Bedouin tents, a cultivated oasis (Photo 5), canyons in the Atlas Mountains (Photo 6), a waterfall, camels, The Grand Mosque, souvenir shops and a carpet shop. LOST IN TRANSLATION We had a great time and lots of laughs with Jan and John. The three days were full on from 6am to 6pm. Our guide spoke five languages but English was his weak suit. We had to really concentrate to understand what he was saying. Fortunately Jan could speak French and so with her interpretation and John’s imagination, whatever was lost in translation was certainly made up for in laughs. WOE IS ME Our guide Hammet or affectionately dubbed “Ham Head” talked non stop about his broken marriage and women. By nightfall we were bored stiff and plotting how to avoid him. We considered asking him not to dine with us, he had other ideas. He joined us for dinner and pre dinner drinks in the bar each night and then left us to pay the bill – smart move. HOW DO THEY DO IT Hammet said the average wage is 300 Dinah a month (a Dinah equals 80 cents). The prices in the shops and supermarkets are equivalent to Australia. However the Tunisian people look well dressed and well fed. Something doesn’t add up. Maybe there are two different prices, one for tourists and one for locals. BAKHSHISH We were told by other cruising people to expect to pay Bakhshish to officials when entering Tunisia, We also heard that they would come on the boat and ask for spirits (alcohol) or some other form of gift. We have seen very little of this but as wages are low we do tip everyone who offers a service. RANDOM OBERVATIONS Firstly, I have never seen so much rubbish. It is in the streets, the paddocks, building sites, the neighborhood, the market, rivers and waterways. Plastic is everywhere (Photo 7). In Monastir and every town we passed through, there are endless Cafés with men sitting around drinking coffee – there are no women present. Smoking is permitted in most places and a lot of Tunisians smoke. Public rubbish bins are not washed and stink of “bin juice”. You smell the bins long before you see them. There are a few beggars on the street and children come and ask for money, I’ve seen sheep in the backseat of the car (Photo8). They are brought into the busy town to graze on a little patch of grass (Photo9). The sheep leave droppings, but no one removes them. In the country there was a market day for second hand clothes. Everything was piled on the tables in a disorderly fashion and women were foraging through it – no waste here. Petrol in Tunisia costs 1 Dinah a litre. However petrol is brought across the border from Lybia for one tenth of that price and sold in 20 litre cans on the side of the road (Photo 10). The children in the country seem happy and wave and speak to you. They certainly haven’t been taught about “stranger danger”. I guess it’s not necessary. The young Tunisian people are very good looking. Many of the girls are so gorgeous it is hard not to stare at them. There are plenty of attractive young men also. They don’t seem to keep their good looks as they grow older though. SO WHAT NOW Andrew’s son Matthew is flying in tonight from London to spend four days with us. His workplace has a policy that if you don’t use your leave you loose it, so Matt has decided to take his two remaining days and run them into the weekend. We will have a look at Monastir tomorrow, Friday we will take a tour to Tunis, which is the capital and has much to offer. Sunday there is a regatta of sailing boats and a BBQ. Matthew will fly back to London on Monday and we will fly to London the following Thursday. We will spend a week in London firstly with Matt and Mim and then with cruising friends Keith and Jean from “La Liberte” We have also arranged to see Shane and the new Mrs Wilson in London before flying to Sydney on 17th November. This is my penultimate newsletter. Love Candy xx
Monday, 25 October 2010
Sunday, 24 October 2010
We arrived in Tunisia last Saturday. We are both well and happy but I am too tired to write a newsletter. We have been busy packing the boat up for the winter months. I will write soon.
Love Candy xx
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Monday, 11 October 2010
THE WAITING GAME We have spent the week waiting for a northerly wind to carry us down to Tunisia. At this stage it looks like we will head out on Thursday or Friday; we will keep our fingers crossed.
While we wait we have completed some of the annual maintenance jobs in preparation for leaving the boat. Andrew has scrubbed the bottom of the boat in 21 degree water - a bit chilly. He then polished the sides of the boat and cleaned out the holding tanks - yuck! I have washed the cushion covers from the three beds, polished the deck, cockpit and transom. We will keep chipping away at our work list hoping to have some spare time for sight seeing once we arrive in Tunisia.
MAKING THE MOST OF IT The weather is cooler but we still like to go for a swim and make the most of the sunshine so we anchor out as much as possible. At the moment we are on the town wharf while a southerly front comes through (Photo1). It rained yesterday and last night.
We have taken three separate bus rides around this small island. The most interesting thing to see, once out of town, is the way some of the houses are built. The island has a lot of soft rock (we think it is tufor) which is used for basic houses construction. The building blocks are cut out of the ground. By the time there is enough for a house the area of land is just one big hole. The house is then built in the hole, the end result being the roof of the house is at ground level (Photo 2). The ground must be fairly porous as the holes are not water logged. They would also be well protected from the wind. It is not very attractive as there is a lot of exposed rock and very little greenery.
THE GOLDEN YEARS The town of Favignana is a mixture of old and new. In days gone by the town was very prosperous with a large tuna processing plant. Some of the older buildings are lovely (Photo 3) and back then the streets were made from large marble blocks. The old town houses are multi level and close together. Entrance to each house is through a private garden courtyard. The few we have seen are lush with greenery and flowering plants.
THE PEOPLE The community appears to be middle aged. I think the young ones would head over to the mainland for work. The shops open from 8am to 1pm and then 6pm to 9pm and the place has a siesta in the afternoon. Most of the locals seem to do their shopping in the morning. One morning I called into the butchers and it was crowded. It was a narrow shop and the customers were lined up out the door. I shuffled in with about twenty big round Italian Mumas who were all talking at the top of their voices. It was quite a social occasion and clearly they all knew each other, I was the odd one out. I was amused watching a customer shouting her order across to the butcher who I thought at any minute would put his fingers in his ears and scream 'shut up' to the lot of them. However he just kept smiling and going about this business. After waiting in the still crowded shop for fifteen minutes one of the Italian women pointed to herself and then to me indicating that I was next. Thank goodness because as the shop emptied and refilled I had lost track of the sequence. I feared cutting in on someone and being trampled underfoot by twenty irate women. When I stepped up to the counter all eyes were on me. So above all the noise of the chatter I pointed to the chicken fillets, held two fingers up and asked for "polo, duo". The women all nodded and looked at each other saying "Ah English, English". I next pointed to the pork chops and held up two fingers, all heads turned to where I was pointing and then twenty Italian Mumas did the talking for me. I couldn't help but smile and they all nodded and smiled back.
THE TRADITION The town celebrated a religious festival the other day. We think it was the blessing the fishing fleet. The Madonna statue was removed from the Mother Church and brought down in a procession to the wharf (Photo 4). There was a brass band playing throughout the day and at night we had amplified music and fireworks. We had front row seat from the boat. The music was choreographed in time with the firework explosions making it the best display we have seen in the Med.
SO WHAT NEXT Hopefully I next time I write we will be in Tunisia. We know a few people who are spending the winter months there in the marina so we will have some company.
Love Candy xx
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