We are currently sitting in the fishing harbour of La Goulette, awaiting the arrival of a French electrician from Catana, as we have charger issues. This problem means we’ve been without power for two weeks, so all cups of tea are made via gas kettle. I shouldn’t jest, it’s seriously awful to have to keep charging our batteries by turning on the motors when in harbour and not sailing. I dislike it and it goes against the grain. Every morning and evening for about 90 minutes we must have the engines running as our solar panels haven’t had sun or there is not enough energy to run the basic items aboard our boat. Did I mention we have freezer trouble making it electricity hungry?
The electrical issue is a teething problem associated with a new boat, a few others are also being sorted out… Catana have promised to fix any issue and no problem is too big for them. It takes the first 6 months to a year to iron out the small glitches so I am told.
Now that we have lived on our boat for sometime, we realise we need to look at alternative power systems to support what we have. When sailing, our 4 solar panels are not enough, we are considering a water generator as a second power source. As always, it comes down to budget and what fits in with our needs and lifestyle.
I Have Always Thought Shopping A Tad Risky
I’ve never liked shopping and Tunisian shopping proves to me it’s risky business to be avoided if possible…
In Tabarka there are two smallish grocery stores but as they don’t have car parks they don’t count as proper shops, more like large corner stores. Tunis in comparison has a massive Carrefour that takes the meet, greet and farewell to a new level. As you enter the shopping centre you are greeted by soldiers on the side of the road. If you have a foreign car you are pulled over regardless and taxi drivers seem to get a fair share of military inquiry as well. Once inside the building your bag is scanned and all walk through a security scanner just as you would any international or large airport. Being French owned Carrefour is seen as a potential terrorism risk and keeping bombs out of the isles is serious business. Once you have completed your shopping all cars from the huge car park are funneled through a single exit lane to go through more security. It’s a good thing they don’t have Christmas shopping here as I couldn’t imagine how long it would take for you to get in and out of the car parks in peak times.
I am becoming used to the ever present security that is a constant part of daily life here in Tunisia. When I first arrived I couldn’t stop looking at the massive guns the young men seem to all carry, now they are starting to blend in like fashion. This country has so many levels of security it must be difficult for the countries administrators to balance the books. Local, regional police, state police, president police and special terrorist police, navy, and army. (I don’t know about air force it’s the only military force I haven’t seen here.)
Here You Can’t Ever Forget Your Neighbours
At home you presume you will be safe for the most part, that is a luxury view when you are living in this region of the world. The day to day life continues and you feel safe, then something happens to remind you why there is so much security here.
Only yesterday a bus carrying young trainee soldiers was attacked in the mountains near the Libyan border, killing 9 young men, all under 23 years old, dozens were injured. A week ago 5 women and 2 men who were terrorists were shot by the forces. It is sobering news and reminds me there are some crazy people out there and the neighbours are not as progressive as the Tunisians are.
Extremism on any level is ugly, especially so when the extreme view is held by a person holding a gun or a bomb.
Our Front And Back Yard Views
Living in a fishing port makes for interesting viewing at times. Fishermen live life tough here in Tunisia, I know how tough just by living beside them for one week.
Historically La Goulette is an old French fishing and navy harbour, it now caters to a fleet of large trawlers and traditional fishing boats. Just on the other side of this harbour is a port where the massive cruise liners and ferries come in but we aren’t allowed access, there are no photos permitted. In Tunisia you need a very good reason to be taking photos in a port, taking photos for my friend Walter, is no excuse.
My back and front yard views will have to do.
Finding a berth in this city has not been as easy as you would think. We count ourselves lucky to be here, it was possible with the assistance of Adnen and his moustache. OK the moustache didn’t help, but it arrives a few minutes before he does, its such a classic I think of it before I think of the man.
Adnen used to work in this harbour and he can speak the language and also has many friends. He gets things done! The official formalities were speedily done and the Authorities, Miss Catana, and Adnen were happy.
Our boat at times is so squeezed in with fishing boats, they come to refuel right beside us, I could easily pass over a cup of tea if anyone was interested. In fact one of the boats handed across a plate of cooked curried sardines for us to try. They were delicious and worth the effort of picking out the bones. The dish was to say thank you for lending them an outdoor broom. One of the young men was sweeping a huge area with a tiny broom and shovel, so they could fix their nets, I thought it easier to lend them a decent broom rather than watch them toil as a result of poor equipment. Then there is the constant worry that they may hit us as they come in. They all seem fairly skilled at manoeuvring their boats but we have fenders all over and we meet and greet each boat as they come in. It is comical to watch your bow spit inside the boundaries of the back or front of the boat.
Being here is not ideal, but it certainly has given us a view of another side of life.
Traditional fishing is hard work. The pictures here are not showing 5 star accommodation and since I have watched the working days of these men when in port. I wouldn’t want to see what happens to those men at sea in those boats. Many smaller boats are rowed in rather than motored, water carried in large containers and cleaning and preparation of a days catch, can go long into the night. Then you have to repair the nets by hand. Hand sewing continues for many hours, it is the large tuna that apparently do the damage.
For the past two days, our weather has been wild and woolly with strong NW winds, so currently the port is full. In front of us last night we had 5 boats, behind us there were four. The equivalent of high rise living on the water, just that the neighbourhood come and go in movements determined by the weather. Last night was a long night.
What the fishermen think of a white boat with two Australians in their backyard God only knows. Singing, joking and drinking are also part of a fisherman’s life.
We are keen to get moving and the fishermen are probably keen to see us go.
Winter is definitely on its way.
La Goulette Is Different To Tabarka
A key difference to this port versus Tabarka, is there’s only fisherman here, Tabarka is a tourism, military and fishing town. This means no one is asking to sell me something, take a photo on board, or do I have any whiskey or cigarettes, I wish to give away throughout the day. At times in Tabarka, I felt like an alien but here, I am just another person. Plus La Goulette seems more affluent, the fishing boats are in better condition, the catches look better and there is no large groups of men sitting idle waiting for something to happen or looking for something to do.
The big give away that things are better is all the cats look well fed!
Once again I count my blessings for my birthplace and postcode.
PS The good news is our charger is fixed. Hooray.