TechnomadicsVagabonding Europe

We’ve had a very relaxed and pleasant final few days in Tunisia. The caravan park we found, La Pineta, which is fittingly Italian, was great — we were surrounded by pine trees, parked on gravel with patches of thick grass and bright yellow flowers, right beside the beach.

, MG, 5463

There were lots of little birds around us, including a fascinating long-beaked guy that Katherine thought might’ve been a woodpecker, which was later confirmed by my bird-watcher mother (K-bomb strikes again).

Nice 'pecker

One day we discovered long ‘ropes’ of caterpillars, following each other nose-to-tail, reminding me of those rat families who get around together by grabbing each others’ tails in their mouths. They all moved in almost-synchronised jerks (Katherine decided they were pop-locking; I think we’ve been watching too much So You Think You Can Dance).

Caterpillar rope

We watched them for ages, fascinated; as I got close with the camera, I think I might have upset the leader caterpillar (the leaderpillar), who got a little confused and did a U-turn, which confused the guy behind him; the whole thing degenerated into chaos, a big bundle of confused caterpillars. Oops. I broke them. Katherine: “You guys are bird food.“.

I broke them

We were reassured later when we discovered a tangle that had righted itself, becoming a line once more, snaking across the ground. Where were they all going? As a computer scientist, I’m always fascinated by that group/emergent behaviour, and wondered about what provision was in their natures that allowed them to rescue themselves from a tangle.

Caterpillar tangle

A resident cat befriended/took ownership of us, and dropped by for a spot of nuzzling and purring.

Our feline friend

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The other weird critter thing at that place was a donkey that we never actually saw, but heard every day when there was a drawn out screech/grinding sound, like a huge piece of machinery, or what we’d imagine a dinosaur would sound like! Then the familiar hee-haw followed for a while. It was weird.

The one negative about the place was the toilet/shower block, which was horrendous — we just used Nettle’s facilities. Euch! This was probably a good thing — it means we probably picked the most appropriate caravan park in Tunisia to stay at for the first two months! Yay!

We’ve done a bit of work on our respective projects; As well as ongoing projects, I’ve started a new iPhone application which should be a quick one, but should prove to be extremely useful! I can’t wait to start using it.

We’ve also done some preparation for our re-entrance to Italy (Hooray!). I installed Google Earth and was thrilled to find a bunch of GPS POI (Point Of Interest) databases for caravan parks, aires for servicing Nettle, and very excitingly, our favourite: Area Attrezzatas (actually, I think it might be aree attrezzata), which are those more casual camping facilities that are attached to other businesses, like wineries, farms or restaurants (sometimes they’re just called sosta campers too, which usually refers to just a service facility, not a place to stay overnight). They’re invariably much cheaper, and frequently much nicer than caravan parks. A little data massaging, and I brought them into Google Earth. Now we can find them on the map! This represents quite a coup for us, as we were previously reduced to chancing upon them. I don’t know why I didn’t think to try this before, but it should hopefully make our lives much easier. The other thing I discovered about using Google Earth is that it’s quite a good tool for spotting wild-camps. Brilliant!

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