Africa bound/ Tunisia

The Grandi Navi Veloci the pride of the Italian fleet was scheduled to sail at 10 am. For some reason the passengers were requested to be there for 8:30 am. I can only guess that they wanted a welcoming committee for the ships arrival at 10:30. It departed over two hours later. The only good thing about it was that it didn’t sink. The crossing was calm enough but it still took 10 hours to sail 320 km. Man those things are slow.

As I strapped my bike down to the rusting floor I noticed that my final drive seal was seeping oil. Not much of a problem in the western world but getting parts in Africa might prove a little difficult. I spent the journey trying to track down a garage in Tunis that could help.

There was a chaotic disembarkation the minute the ramp hit the dock. There were heaps of trucks and cars loaded like trucks, their loads piled high on their roofs meters above them. I was luckily enough to be able to squeeze my way to the front and reach the checkpoints in the first few vehicles.

I had to go through passport control and customs. Neither were too bad but it did take an hour of going here and there filling out the forms. I must say the customs guys were very friendly and helpful so it really was a breeze.
I had pre booked a hotel in Tunis and barely made the 12 km trip before reception closed for the night. In fact the guy had been waiting for me to arrive so he could go home.

The next day I went in search of a bike shop that could help me with the repairs. On route I passed a cop on a BMW RT so I pulled him over and asked him where his mechanic was. After five minutes of him trying to explain where it was in French he gave up and told me to follow him. So off we went at speed cruising through red lights. The shop was closed when we got there because it was a public holiday so there was nothing I could do except tackles the repairs myself.

I managed to get some gear oil, drain and refill the final drive. I then went for a test ride of about 40 km to Cartage to see the Roman ruins. It’s still leaking but at least I knew there’s enough oil in it for a while. The ruins were in ruins, not too much to see.

The next morning was spent going from garage to garage to see if anyone could help but no one was able. I kept getting the same response”go to  Motoradd BMW”. No worries but the next one is in Cairo Egypt. I eventually gave up and went and sourced generic parts from a few shops. Thanks Adrian for your advice. My Botch job seems to be working so I just drove on out on to the desert highway and headed south.

I stopped overnight on route in a town called Matamata in the mountains of Tunisia. The people here live in great big holes in the ground. It’s an amazing place. They first dig a hole about 2 stories deep, they vary in dimensions but you get the idea. Then they’ll dig a passageway with steps down to the footing. Afterwards passages are dug into the sides of these holes forming rooms that they use for bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms etc. On route I stopped to have a look at one of these places an old lad came out and invited me in for some bread and tea. I sat there with him for about an hour while he explained how he built the place. He initially spent 2 years building his home but extended whenever he needed to. The rooms are all carpeted and whitewashed and they remain at nice temperature throughout the year.

The next day I went and explored the nearby town of Matamata. George Lucas also filmed some star wars scenes here back in the day; the giant hole used for the movie is now a hotel and you can spend the night. From here it was off through the mountains, through some magnificent scenery and twisty roads for about 50 km before I was back on the main road and bound for the Libyan border.

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One Response to Africa bound/ Tunisia

  1. Ted Jordan says:

    Hi Kev . I paid a visit to Matamata once on a 2 day trip from Tunis to some oasis in the desert and saw those houses in the caves . Yes very friendly people there alright also there’s a huge salt lake at the foot of the Atlas Mountains and we arrived there at dawn to see the sun come up . Never been any further along the route so good luck for now . Cheers Ted

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