Sunday, 11 January 2009

Into Africa

I realised our first evening camping in positive temperatures hasn't gone as planned when the locks on the roof box were frozen the following morning and there were shards of ice falling off the tent. We got up nice and early to soldier on to Granada for another evenings camping, not realised that the city itself is at 800m altitude, so the camping rapidly turned into a night in a hotel. The brake lights on the car decided to play up again, so after several hours of fiddling I'd managed to isolate the problem and disconnect the faulty wire so it could be looked at when we had a little more time. We were better off driving with 3 brake lights than none.

Due to the delay we didn't arrive in Granada until the sun was setting. We carried on with our Spanish ritual of driving round cities realising we can't park anywhere. We then headed to the outskirts of town to find a hotel with available parking. A pleasant evening in Granada, if a little cold, followed by a shockingly bad meal.

Up again early the next morning to race down to Gibraltar for yet another attempt to beat the cold. Had a picnic in the Costa Del Sol just outside of Marbella. Not the nicest part of the world, lots of English cars too. We eventually arrived in Gibraltar in luke warm sunshine and were treated like royalty by JP and Michelle for the next few days. Got a fantastic tour of 'The Rock', loved the views and the apes. We also had great food to fuel us up before the push into Africa. It was quite surreal being able to see Africa over the water. We think of it as being so far away from the UK, yet there it was, the towering Rif mountains on the horizon just a 35 minute ferry ride away. Break light fixed, the car fuelled, watered and checked over we were ready for the push into Morocco.

We got up bright and early the following day to jump on the ferry to Ceuta, a Spanish territory on the North coast of Africa. We left the sun of Southern Europe to arrive in overcast skies and the first rain of our trip. Not the Africa we were expecting. It's amazing how much more lush and green the North Coast of Africa is compared to Southern Spain considering they're just a matter of miles apart. Upon getting off the ferry we followed signs to Morocco reaching the border a few minutes later. No problems at the border, just looked in the boot and didn't want to dig any deeper.

Having been running from the cold for several weeks, we decided to prolong the suffering by heading for Chefchaouen in the mountains. A beautiful little town, very picturesque. We tucked into our first tagine and mint tea, slightly frustrated that Spanish seemed to be the spoken language rather than French - and our Spanish leaves more than a little to be desired!

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