Hola Spain! (ES)

The train arrived in Tangier at 7.25 am and I was at the harbor just 10 minutes later. I wanted to buy a ticket for the ferry to Algeciras but it turned out that this ferry takes off from a different port 15 kilometers away. No website mentions this.
Instead I bought a ticket for the fast ferry to Tarifa. Supposedly it would leave at 8 am and arrive at 8.35 am. It left at 8.45 am and arrived an hour later. Although the Sea was calm the annoying kid in front of me threw up all over the seat. I escaped to the duty free shop to spend my remaining dirhams but they only accepted Euros. I didn’t once feel like I was actually leaving the continent of Africa. Even Morocco hadn’t really felt like Africa to me. Too many people spoke too many languages and as soon as hassling started (already in Egypt) I knew that the original experience I had expected was over.

Tarifa! The mother continent at last!

In Tarifa I discovered that I had lost an hour because of some undefined time zone change. So much for the early start. I took the complimentary bus to Algeciras, walked to the bus terminal and bought a ticket to Malaga on the direct bus which left later but arrived earlier than the next available bus. Then I learned another lesson in international traveling with big bags: reactivate your own phone! Mine is still out of service and Algeciras does not seem to have working public phones, which is probably the case in most cities around the world. I was glad that I had bought a ticket for the later bus now as it took me 45 minutes, 3 Euros, 5 different phones and three helpful people to inform my friends when to pick me up in Malaga. All of this at boiling heat with two heavy backpacks on me. I also couldn’t find an ATM so I was hoping the phones wouldn’t eat more of my last coins without acknowledging their presence.

My friend Ian picked me up in Malaga where I loaded up on Euros and immediately opted for the four cheese sandwich and a beer at a snack place in a mall next door. See how easy it can be?! I also got a kick out of the first clean toilet in months, paper and water in unlimited supply, a door that locked and even a mirror. The little things in life!

The train we took was scarily modern. I was suddenly glad that Europe had me back. The interesting dress code of the Spanish people (shirts too tight, skirts too short, hot pants, heels) was a welcome sight. I instantly felt less fat and more in touch with myself. After a long shower (hello water pressure and constant temperature!) I morphed into the Kraut you all know and love.

 

My friends Ian and Sarah live in Casarabonella, a sleepy mountain village about 40 minutes from Malaga. It was my second time visiting them there, the last time was five years ago and since they are planning to move to New Zealand soon it will also be the last time. They have a house with a holiday rental unit that I occupied for two nights while losing more brain cells trying to find a decent tv channel out of 600 – ideally one that didn’t talk about the horrible attacks in Norway or the death of Amy Winehouse.

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After dropping a key for another rental unit off for two very grumpy French people we had a few beers and tapas at a local hangout that seemed to serve old men and young over- (well…under-) dressed people. The service wasn’t exceptional but far better than anything I experienced in Africa. And the beer didn’t run out right away. Later we moved on to a restaurant/bar that used to be a garage and had dinner and more drinks. It was light outside until almost 10pm. It was also still warm and a bit humid. And as weird as this may sound I finally felt like I was no longer traveling and that my adult life as I like it was continuing right here and there. I loved my long vacation but at the end of the day it’s nice to return and be among friends.

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