Monday, 11 October 2010

Favignana, Egardi Islands

Eye Candy on the wharf House below ground level Grand residence from the Tuna days "Mother" Church and Brass Band
Hi from Clare, Favignana, Egardi Islands Monday 11th 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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