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Old 04-28-2012, 06:31 AM   #1
Kiwiplum OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Coromandel , New Zealand
Oddometer: 18
bexhill to ceuta

Bexhill to Ceuta

The plan for the journey to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on Morocco's coast involved three ferries. The first was from Newhaven to Dieppe, across the turgid and turdy English Channel .
Catching a ferry only 50km into the trip means you can cast aside early along with the mooring ropes your previous routines. You now have to invent, find, refine a whole new set of standards. You have to be more aware, sharper, sometimes cautious and get into a mind set that allows you to accept the vagaries of travel.
I love the anonymity that solo travel brings. You can watch activities without making any judgement and participate without responsibility.
Once on French soil, I had a 450 ride along the top of France to the Atlantic port of Saint Nazaire for the ferry to Gijon. My French journey started in bright clear weather and I quickly got into the groove of driving on the left.

However, just one hour into the ride, it all turned to custard. The wind rose and the trees on the roadside bent with the gusts, the rain sleeted down and the bike was pushed around like a Qantas steward in a rugby scrum. I abandoned riding that day and found a campsite in the walled garden of an old chateau. The storm raised its intensity during the night and although the walls gave me some protection, the noise meant I had to use my earplugs to get some sleep.
The next day I packed up in the rain and gritted myself for an uncomfortable 350km ride. Uncomfortable was an understatement. The wind and rain increased and I was pushed between the white road lines like the cursor in one of those old tennis computor games. I found cowering in the slip stream of a truck and dodging down behind the screen of the V Strom helped but the wind which veered through about 30 degrees, caught the bike broadsides with alarming frequency giving little chance to relax.

I arrived at St Nazaire bedraggled, cold and tired to find the ferry had been cancelled . but I had a priority reservation for the next boat in four days time. The counter clerk told me it was the first time they had cancelled in three years. I considered my options and felt that four days in one place so early in the trip was not appealing. The ferry and flight cancellations had given the hotels a bonus- there was no room at the inn. I had to ride another 40 km to find a campsite , I erected my still wet tent in the high winds, double pegged the lines and crawled into my sleeping bag, made myself a brew and exhausted fell asleep.

The next day, there was no rain although the wind was still high. I packed up and hit the dual carriage way heading through the flat coastal wine growing region of Bordeaux, then Bayonne and across the border into Spain.

The rain and wind picked up as I crossed the Pyrenees, indeed if anything it was the worse of the trip. It was just to risky to continue, so in Burgos I called it a day, found a hotel, stowed my bike in its courtyard, bought a bottle of wine, had a hot shower, toasted the day several times, dried my riding gear and slept for 10 hours.

What a difference a day makes. The next morning was bright, cold with a moderate wind. It was so nice cruising across the plains of Spain at around 120kph, with the bad weather experience behind you. The road was boring, straight and flat. I got in a convoy of Spanish bikers and they made the ride interesting buying me lovely calamari lunch and swapping motorbike war stories.

My friends stopped at Seville, but with only a further 200km to the ferry terminal at Algerciras to go and at least three hours of day light I carried on, refusing their offer of a bed for the night.

I caught the midnight ferry and an hour later I was setting foot for the first time in North Africa. It was warm, dry but everything was closed. No hotels, no restaurants. I found a beach, unrolled my swag, made a brew, had another toast and fell into a deep sleep, the only sound being the waves lapping the shore and the warm wind rustling the tussock grass in the dunes.
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:40 AM   #2
expat in the jungle
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Bilbao, close to the fu****ng Guggenheim
Oddometer: 2,292
not the best week for riding, i think

next time, or coming back try to ride THIS ONE

shorter, better landscapes and much better for riding, eating, sleeping...... and cheaper
Youth is wasted on the young

Need some help<<<<<<>>>>>>> wet wanderings
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:40 AM   #3
Gnarly Poolside Adv.
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Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Darnestown, MD
Oddometer: 747
You certainly had a wet and windy start to your trip, any pictures?

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Old 05-03-2012, 11:10 AM   #4
Kiwiplum OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Coromandel , New Zealand
Oddometer: 18
the Moroccan border

The Border

I awoke with the sun and an audience of five stray dogs , I made a brew, packed up and headed for the Moroccan border. Ceuta is a pretty town with duty free petrol and a razor wire fence surrounding it to keep out illegal economic migrants.

I was waved through the Spanish checkpoint and girded myself for Moroccan authorities. I had read about the touts posing as officials and extracting money to “assist” you to enter Morocco. I planned to do it all myself.

Crossing the 100 metre no man's strip between the two countries was theatre. One minute you are in manicured lawns, order and direction. The next you are hitting a pothole and being yelled at by swarthy men in long robes, three day stubble and instant camaraderie.

“ Hola, bonjour , hello my friend. Let me help you. “

I slowed, then stopped and was immediately surrounded by four men , trying to grab my hand, give me a paper, show me their credentials and asking for my passport.

I dismounted and pulled myself to my full height, flipped up my visor and looked slowly at the four men in turn.

“ Good morning, gentlemen. Thank you for greeting me so warmly on my entrance to your beautiful country. I would like to try and enter by myself. and if I get stuck I will come and see you. “ I had rehearsed that speech.

I grabbed my tankbag with all my documentation and headed for passport control.

But before I reached there , my hand was grabbed and I looked to see another tout, his eyes were bloodshot, unsteady on his feet. He thrust a paper at me.

:” Take this , give me passport “ His hand tightened on mine and I just ignored him dragging him along with me. He then came round in front of me and shoved his face into mine. I could smell the alcohol on his breath. He would be as much use getting me through the border process as tits on a bull.

“ Stop . Give me passport,” he slurred. I tried to be polite and shook his hand from me.

“ No thanks , I am good. Please let me pass .” By this time a crowd of touts, officials and other travellers were watching.

He tried again to grab my hand and asked for my passport, but I dodged past him and made it to the booth and handed over my passport .

Then he started to yell and spat on the ground, followed by a string of multi cultural expletives. I ignored him and out of the corner of my eye I saw him take a few steps then fall down on a heap to the ground. He just lay there , not moving. I watched him for about 10 seconds and realised he was not going to get up, so I rushed over to him . I checked his airways. His breathing was laboured but his pulse was reasonably strong. I laid him in the recovery position and opened up his airway and gave him a crack on his back. He let forth a projectile of vomit, luckily missing me. That action seemed to do the trick as he opened his eyes, sat up and gave his head a shake, stood up and staggered away , pushing himself through the crowd.

My actions in going to his aid, galavanised the officials. A police officer grabbed me and walked me over to the passport official and gave him a string of instructions. Myself and my bike were taken to the head of the queque, processed and sent on our way with a welcome to Morocco in less than five minutes. I didn't even have to fill in the forms – it was all done for me.
Who said getting into Morocco was hard!
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Old 05-03-2012, 02:25 PM   #5
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: andamooka South Australia
Oddometer: 282
Shitty weather, cancelled ferries, and projectile vomiting . Sounds like the perfect start to an epic adventure.
Bring on the happy snaps.
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