Out of Africa

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This blog entry about the events of Monday, June 28, 2004 was originally posted on July 03, 2004.

DAY 254:  “It’s the end of an era,” I told Sebastian as we rode on the last ferry from Africa into Europe across the Strait of Gibraltar.  The nighttime ferry ride was the unforeseen final leg of a mad dash from Morocco to Spain.

“YOU WANT SOME HASH?” a grimy middle-aged man asked me at the store near the Blue Gate in Fez earlier that morning.  To our last minute in town the incessant touts wouldn’t back off.

“No, thanks,” I answered.  It wasn’t unheard of to be involved in a drug deal like that (even without buying it), only to have the seller rat you out to the cops (real or fake) in order to ask you for a bribe.

“Can I give you a kiss?” he asked.  I wasn’t sure if he was sarcastically mocking me or being gay.

“Uh, no.”

“Can I give your friend a kiss?” he called to Sebastian who was buying a bottle of water.  Then he turned back to me with his ambiguously sarcastic tone.  “I want to give you a kiss because you’re so handsome.”

“Uh, no.”

Yup, it was definitely time to leave.  Sebastian and I took the twelve noon bus northbound out of Fez.


WE HAD IT ALL PLANNED OUT:  we had just enough time in the day to take that noon bus to Tetouan, then a taxi to Ceuta, a ferry to Algeciras in European Spain and a bus to our target final destination of the day, Cadiz in the south west corner of Spain.  The six-hour bus to Tetouan was straight-forward — I wrote in The Blog, Sebastian read my copy of Dude, Where’s My Country? — as French-speaking Morocco gradually turned into Spanish-speaking Morocco, the northern region where Spain once had a stronghold.  At a stop in Chefchaouen in the middle of the Rif Mountains, red Spanish-tiles capped houses and a vendor asked me for “cinco dirhams” instead of “cinq.”

Two hours later we arrived at the bus station in Tetouan, a place known for aggressive touts that know that any traveler is only there as a stopping point traveling between Morocco and Spain.  Even before we got our bags off the bus, a tout followed us to just “be friendly” and “practice his English” for “no money.”  Sebastian and I tried to get rid of him politely but he wouldn’t go away.  I went to make a cash run at an ATM (both Sebastian and I were low on cash) while Sebastian did some guide research in the book.  It was determined that the tout’s suggestion of taking a shared taxi and not a bus to the port city of Ceuta (about thirty minutes away) was the thing to do, giving the fact that we still wanted to get the ferry to Europe and another bus afterwards to Cadiz. 

Getting a taxi out of Tetouan was another annoying in itself though, with the tout trying to lead us to overpriced taxis.  The arguments over price went on and on with a driver so much that Sebastian and I considered just taking a bus to the other (and bigger) port city of Tangier.


ENTER FABRIZZIO, an Italian guy in shorts and flip-flops that had also come from jamming in Essaouira.  A guy perhaps in his late 20s, he was the quintessential Italian with the talent of argument, even in Spanish with a thick Italian accent.  He took charge of the situation, pricing out a ride to our common destination of Ceuta for the three of us for four bucks each.

“I think the Italian guy really saved us,” Sebastian told me.

The taxi ride along the northern cost of Morocco took us half an hour to the end of the line, a land border crossing into Spain; Ceuta lies in one of two tiny territories of Spanish soil on the African continent.  After changing our remaining dirhams to euros and clearing customs, we walked across the border and into Spain — without ever leaving Africa.  Things were drastically different once we entered Spanish territory anyway; Ceuta (picture above) was a modern developed resort kind of town with a fancy marina, skyscrapers and palm trees.

Another taxi took us to the ferry terminal, dropping Fabrizzio off halfway to his stop — it was almost as if he crossed paths with us solely as guidance to get into Spain from Tetouan.  We hoped to get the next ferry out in hopes of getting into the Iberian Peninsula in a timely fashion in order to get the last bus to Cadiz, only to realize that in our casual stroll across the African land border from Morocco into Spain foiled our lofty travel plan of the day; we had jumped two hours into the future with the time zones.  (Spain was one hour ahead, plus another hour for Daylight Savings adjustments.)  The sun was still out but suddenly it was nearing 9:30 p.m. instead of 7:30, leaving us with no choice but to take the last ferry into Europe at eleven.  In the meantime, we celebrated our long journey across Morocco with something we hadn’t been easy to come across in a long time:  beer.


“IT’S THE END OF AN ERA,” I told Sebastian as we rode on the fast ferry from Africa into Europe across the Strait of Gibraltar.  The ride was only 35 minutes, barely enough time for me to digest the fact that my four months in Africa — “Part II of The Global Trip 2004” — was actually over and that I was headed back into the Western World.  Chances are we had missed all bus services out of the port city of Algeciras so I decided that I’d stay for the night, while Sebastian would find a bus or taxi to at least go halfway to Cadiz in order to save money on the hotel fees of a port city — he figured he’d just pitch a tent somewhere.  The Vancouverite and I just lounged out in a corner of the swanky-looking ferry with final conversations and reminiscence of the past week we’d spent together.

“You’re the youngest 29-year-old I’ve met,” he told me.  Most of his friends above twenty-four weren’t venturing solo into the world with philosophies of cartoons like I was. 

“I know, I just wrote a comment to your mom on The Blog that said that I’m not sure if you’re just mature for your age or if I can just really relate to 20-year-olds.”

I flipped through the Let’s Go guide and found a hostel that only cost eight euros, a price that Sebastian could afford — most other places were no cheaper than twenty, three to six times more than most of the places in Africa.  (Welcome to Europe.)  With that said, and Sebastian’s self-aware ease of being persuaded, he decided to extend his travels with me for one more night.  We got off the ferry and stepped into Europe — a first for me on The Trip — and wandered the night streets of Algeciras looking for the hostel with the cheap rates.  We wandered for about an hour, lugging our big bags, only to get lost in the practically empty but modern town.  Eventually we settled on a nice place overlooking a plaza for 14 euros each.  I was so tired from the long journey from Fez that I passed out in my bed while waiting for Sebastian to get out of the shower.

And so, as I slept in a bed in a hostel with Western prices, a new era began:  The Global Trip 2004 Part III:  Europe & Siberia.






Next entry: Back in the Western World

Previous entry: Funky Old Medina




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Comments for “Out of Africa”

  • SEBASTIAN:  Hey, I don’t remember getting an entry stamp into Spain in Ceuta…  Is that right?  Did we ever get one?  Cause I don’t have one…  Am I in Spain illegally right now?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/02  at  09:43 PM


  • Erik: Do you know what they do to illegal Morrocans in Spain?!! You better keep your Galabyyia on the DownLow!


    SEBASTIAN: Es ce que tu as aller ? l??cole ?mersion fran?aise?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/03  at  03:32 AM


  • Erik - Congrats on finishing Part II of your journey!  Hopefully the comforts of the western world will help you relax a bit and recouperate - as long as you don’t have a heart attack over the prices smile
    I’m looking forward to hearing about Spain - I’ll be spending 3 months there on my RTW

    Posted by Liz  on  07/03  at  04:03 AM


  • Liz - wow - 3 months in Spain? Why is that? Not that it wouldn’t be worth it, just wondering.

    Erik - congrats on making it to Spain - There’s also a Cadiz in Kentucky, but I be the one you’re in is purtier! smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/03  at  04:57 AM


  • Part III - The Return of the Beer Gut….

    ummm…enjoy this leg of the trip bro… “bring me back something french”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/03  at  06:19 AM


  • NOELLE - originally the travel plan was just to go to Spain.  Both my husband and I had thought about working there but figure it will be difficult for him to get a job (Japanese speaker in IT - not many options).  So we figured we’d just live there for a few months as Plan B… and while we were in the area we should go to Morocco, and Italy, and Tunisia and… well it kinda mushroomed into a two year RTW trip LOL

    Posted by Liz  on  07/03  at  08:01 AM


  • NOELLE - originally the travel plan was just to go to Spain.  Both my husband and I had thought about working there but figure it will be difficult for him to get a job (Japanese speaker in IT - not many options).  So we figured we’d just live there for a few months as Plan B… and while we were in the area we should go to Morocco, and Italy, and Tunisia and… well it kinda mushroomed into a two year RTW trip LOL

    Posted by Liz  on  07/03  at  08:03 AM


  • Erik, why don’t you check out Englishtown just outside of Madrid.  They will house you and feed you for a week and all you have to do is speak English to the Spaniards who are trying to polish their English skills. (Your’s might need polishing too after all that French!) Here’s the website if you or anyone else is interested: http://www.vaughanvillage.com

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/03  at  08:10 PM


  • Tdot: oui, j’ai fait l’immersion francaise a l’ecole.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/04  at  12:45 AM


  • Liz -
    Awesome - that sounds like SUCH a fun thing - so jealous… I will get there, I long to do something of that sort. For now I live vicariously!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/05  at  08:13 AM


  • Welcome to Europe. Now you’re an American again, and no one will like your politics—even if you never even open your mouth.

    Nice goin’ buddy—SA & Africa were amazing through your eyes. Can’t wait to see how Europe treats you!

    MARKYT was right, “Return of the Beer Gut” due out this summer.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/06  at  01:33 AM


  • Thanks for the great stories and photos Erik. You have a real gift for finding the fun in most everything. But then again, travel is well-known to make a person flexible.
    Hope you come to vancouver sometime.  We’d love to meet you.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/06  at  11:22 AM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Back in the Western World

Previous entry:
Funky Old Medina




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

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1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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