I thought about writing a descriptive account with high and low points of our trip back to Italy..(yes, alas we had to come back) but then realised that this would probably be very tedious and have opted for a much more healthy ‘NO COMMENT’ on the mechanical side…..or lets say a much shorter comment. In brief, after the second broken head cylinder gasket (after about 700km) the truck was first pulled then loaded on to two different trucks (on occasion with somewhat unorthodox systems of loading and unloading) it was pulled on to the boat and driven/pulled off, to finally find its resting place in a small woodwork factory near Civitavecchia, where the engine (with CHUNKS !? of metal missing from its engine block) was taken out to be replaced hopefully in a weeks time by a another newly reconditioned engine. During the whole process, the children were deliciously oblivious to our difficulties, and thought it was all great fun travelling on a truck without a driver.
Passing through Tunisia was strangely peaceful. There was an air of optimism on the streets and the military presence seemed relaxed and friendly, with soldiers giving kisses to little Giulio and Lusira, although (understandably) less happy with me photographing their tanks. There was still a curfew with cars rushing urgently to their destinations followed by a strange unnatural silence after 10 o’clock, making me think about the many other areas of the world where this limitation has become the unhappy norm. (there was talk of removing it the week after) The biggest most noticeable change in the landscape was the total disappearance of the billboards portraying Ben Ali, that for 24 years dominated the cities and every public space. In the small roadside restaurants I had fun spotting the tell tale nail holes and clean squares where the president once stood, in some cases covered by the Tunisian lemonade ‘Boga’ adverts, or just simply removed from its frame, standing empty waiting for the next ruler. The massive 10-metre billboards were still illuminated with nothing inside; on occasion little signs of burning were perceivable, making his exile truly and irremediably complete. My best and sincere wishes for a better future to this country that I have grown to love.
..And us, where too next, today news from Egypt is hopeful…maybe we’ll see the pyramids after all, probably via Greece and Turkey, Syria and Jordan.