After a revolution
and a trip to the desert, “work” will seem as dull to you as it is to us.
But we’re ticking off the boxes and getting to the bottom of the list. In
addition to the regular jobs this year there are some additional ones to prepare
Seraphim for the canals of
The haul-out was
scheduled for March 5th. It was a perfectly calm morning and
everything went exactly as planned until the yard manager told us his slings
were not adjustable and Seraphim could not be hauled at their yard.
Fortunately, we had a French friend with us who called down to the fishing
harbor and made arrangements for us to be hauled in a half hour. Then nothing
went as planned. The lift ran out of gas. (How many Tunisians does it take to
refuel a lift? About six. And how long? Three hours minimum.)
But we were hauled
and power-washed and the work began slowly. The yard is surrounded by fish
distributors so the smell is very pungent but we got used to that pretty
quickly. After four days Seraphim looked her old self.
(Click to see larger image)
Back in the marina we
got to the details. We fine-tuned Seraphim bit by bit. The interior, too!
When the “To Do”
list dwindles to almost nothing the waiting game begins. Waiting for weather.
What to do? Travel! We hopped into a car and headed for the mountains. That is
northwest of here, and we hadn’t been there yet. We heard it was fabulous.
Well, it was! And green, too!
We had two
destinations in mind. The first is Dougga. A Roman city with a
view. It is set on an enchanting hillside surrounded by olive groves and
overlooking fields of grain, with forested hills beyond. Like nothing we’d
seen in Tunisia! But that’s not even the best part! Here in Dougga are
Africa’s most magnificent Roman monuments, startlingly complete with baths,
theatre and temples. It is a beguiling glimpse into the posh lives of the second
century Romans. Not to be missed. We loved it.
The second day we
drove to the hills about 100 km away to Bulla Regia, famed for it’s
extraordinary underground villas. And extraordinary, they are. We walked among
the superbly preserved Roman rooms complete with ancient mosaics. The city’s
importance peaked during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. To
escape the summer heat the ever-inventive Romans retreated below the surface,
building elegant homes underground complete with colonnaded courtyards. Here are
some favorite shots.
And if all that
wasn’t enough, we even had a further glimpse into mountain life. A young woman
strolled by as we were packing up our picnic lunch. In our best French we told
her who we were and where we were going. She was intrigued that we were from
America. She had never met anyone from America. Almost instantly the intrigue
led to a request (a ride) and an invitation (tea at her home with her family).
Now this is the true definition of “adventure”. We drove about 3-4 km
through open fields, down and around muddy paths, “left at the cow” (no
joke) and parked in their grassy front yard. We were greeted by mother and
father; a photo session followed. By now we were holding hands and kissing. But
things got a little uncomfortable. We couldn’t grasp the meaning of it all;
only young Zina spoke any French at all and not much of that. But we were urged to sit on the two (and only) stools and
presented with a cup of coffee and two boiled eggs each. Zina peeled them for us
while we smiled amongst the goats, cow and chickens. We said our goodbyes and
went on our way. Never before had
we been so close to so much poverty. This
family of six live in two rooms with almost no furniture, no running water, and
only a donkey for transportation. Yet they took from what they had and welcomed us and fed us.
It was hard for us to accept such generosity from these poor people; the
experience is imprinted on us.
So now the waiting
game begins. That means we’re thinking about departing. Today it looks as
though we could set out at the end of the week. First stop is Sicily. We both
agree it is important to stock up on our favorite Italian things like pesto,
pasta, provolone, pecorino, proscuitto, Parmesan and anything else that we
can’t do without.
what we expect our route to look like for the next few weeks:
From Sicily we will
head for the west coat of Italy just south of Capri. Then we will hop up the
coast as the wind permits stopping in several places to meet up with old and new
friends. This will put us on the French Riviera in May. We expect to arrive in
the south of France at Port St Louis de Rhone by early June. Here we will remove
Seraphim’s masts and turn her into a motorboat for the
trip into the French rivers and canals. Even though we have researched this
carefully and spoken to many people who have done it before, there is still a
lot of angst in making it all happen. We’ll
tell the tale in our next chapter. Hopefully the outcome is as successful as the
Paris here we come!
Another dream comes true. Isn’t life grand?