Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tunisia

Our trip from Sicily started the same as most of our passages in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean…the wind was right on the nose. After the first 12 hours we had only made about 24 miles good towards our target because we had to tack back and forth, back and forth in light winds. But then finally, the wind shifted around to our beam and we flew for two days right on our desired course to El Kantaoui, Tunisia.

Tunisia, which lies on the north coast of Africa, is not blessed with many safe anchorages. It is exposed to the winds and waves of the Mediterranean so we were forced to take refuge in a marina. Although we love the peace and quiet that we normally experience at anchor, we very much enjoyed the instant comradery that exists among sailors all tied up to the same dock. Most of the boats were from France and the owners spoke only French but they were very patient with us and our attempts to speak their language.

We took a bus 10 km to Sousse which is a lively port city of 156,000. It possessed the typical African architecture of boxy plastered buildings which were whitewashed at one time, but not very recently. There are very few trees or plants of any kind to offer a splash of colour.
We visited the medina (old town) which is totally enclosed by a tall stone wall. The narrow streets weave past the usual assortment of shops all selling the same goods and a multitude of tea houses where the Muslim men gather to gossip and smoke while their women stay a home
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At the centre of the medina was a stone Ribat (monastery) which had at one time housed hundreds in very harsh conditions. Now it was open to tourists although there were very few who were silly enough to venture out to see it in the middle of the day (as we did).
The heat hit us like a wall. We bought several bottles of water to try to rehydrate and eventually hid in the shade of a café where we had a light lunch and regained enough energy to return to Toboggan. In hind-sight, we should have waited a few days to acclimatize to the dessert climate before setting off sight-seeing on foot.

1 Comments:

Blogger Coach Carlos said...

Steve: Saw your article in local mag. What a trip. You have more cojones than I do. Congrats to you and your wife. I hope you sail by Chile on your way back.God bless.
Carlos Radic

5:03 PM  

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