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Notes from the home of the hitchhiker

When you can't go straight, turn and go straight

Ferry between Spain and Morocco
Tsss, hissed the brakes of a local bus at the station in La Línea. I set on the front seat with the aim of getting to a petrol station on the bypass. In my imagination I was sitting already in the cabin of a truck, boarding the ferry. I didn't even notice, that I missed my stop and the next one was in Algeciras. It was late, so no more buses were going back. I could walk south to the place where the motorway was turning into a national road, but hitching by night in Spain just on the roadside was not a good idea. So I went north and found a massive obstacle. There was a river and only a motorway bridge over it, with heavy traffic and narrow emergency lanes. I thought there must be some other way to get through. I checked my map. A railway bridge was not far from me and when I found it, I realised it was very narrow so in case of oncoming train I would be in big troubles. I gave it a try.

The view of the river was fantastic. It was like unpolished mirror reflecting the lights of this urbanised bay, like an impressionist painting. I felt some kind of magic there and I found myself in there by pure chance. I loved that chain of chance. After the night at the station it took me a while to find a lift to Tarifa. The view of the mountains on the Moroccan side of the strait was very clear from there. I was at the end of Europe. I could even recognise buildings. It felt like I could smell the desert, even though it was miles away behind the mountains. Temptation to go to Morocco rose and rose.

Heavy clouds were escorting me all day long and just before it got dark they brought the first drops. I was standing in a drizzle for a couple of hours with no luck. Cádiz was something like hundred kilometres away. Nothing. Around 9 p.m. heavy rain forced me to hide in a supermarket entrance nearby. Fifteen minutes later a white car parked just in front. A young man with long blond hair approached me.
'Do you speak English?', he asked.
'Yeah I do.'
'It might be hard in this weather. We are going to Cádiz tomorrow, but now just wanna park somewhere for the night', he showed me his car and a girl sitting inside. 'Would you like a beer?'
'Yeah why not.' I smiled.
So after a while all three of us were chatting and I found out he was from Slovenia and his girlfriend was Austrian. They were travelling around Spain in a rented car.
'You can maybe sleep in there', he said looking at unfinished construction site, which was a common view in Spain after the recession.
'Well I was actually thinking about that.'
It's weird how sometimes we feel connection with someone straight away. This guy definitely was in a similar situation in his life. After they drove off in to the darkness, I camped in the empty building with no doors or windows.

Man chewing rosary in Spain
The next day I arrived in Cádiz quite quickly brought by Nor, very confident and beautiful Moroccan girl. In Cádiz, on La Caleta beach I met a group of people who were juggling, playing drums and actually camping there as well. There were two Dutch lads, one guy from Germany travelling with his puppy on a bicycle, one Chileno and a few guys from Spain. There was also one Israeli girl who arrived in town the same day as me. I told her about my plans and because she wanted to pay for the ferry to get to Las Palmas, she asked me if she could join me. Why not. There were only two ferries a week, on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

On Monday morning guys took me to one of the Catholic organisations for free food. We all loved free stuff. There were different kinds of people in the comedor as everyone called it. Some were homeless, drunk and noisy guys living on the streets for years probably. But there were also people who couldn't support themselves anymore after the crisis hit Spain. Unemployment rate in the southern regions was up to thirty percent. And then there were people like us, trying to save every penny while being on the road. After the brunch I went to the port to see if there were any trucks coming already. I managed to speak to one German driver and he told me that his company had to pay extra for a second person in the cabin. Shit! My hope was falling apart again. I went to check my email and... I couldn't believe it. A message from an Australian sailor named Richard, who saw my note in Gib! I decided to go back straight away, but people from the beach convinced me to go for another free meal. Curiosity was eating me alive.

I stayed again in John's and other lads' flat, even though it felt like I was overusing their hospitality. Almost every day new couchsurfers were coming to their place. Shawn once had no place to stay in a foreign country, now he wanted to help others. The next day I met Richard on his boat Christina II, which was a beautiful sixty five feet ketch. Richard, a guy from Perth at his fifties, left Australia five years ago to sail around the world. His rough plan was to organise a few more crew members and possibly sail to the Caribbean. Possibly. Richard had to stay for at least four weeks to work as a programmer and repair his budget a bit. He also needed new sails, the old ones didn't really survive a storm he was hit by. So again I knew nothing exact. I was still stranded.

During the next couple of days I was visiting Richard quite often. We had some constructive chats about open source programs, open maps and charts, system in which everything is for sale, everything has its price. We were chatting also about sailors and their community. It wasn't as homogeneous as I thought. There was a lot of rich people who lived on boats, to show off in a way. They didn't move too much, some didn't move at all. But there were real sailors out there as well, people who sometimes sold everything to realise their dreams. People who often struggled to support themselves.

Richard wasn't sure how long he had to stay there and wasn't sure what would be his next destination. He also wanted his future crew to participate not only in the cost of food, but also in other costs as he couldn't afford it himself. I understood it, but I couldn't really afford it either. It was time to make a decision. So I decided to try my luck in Morocco. Direction Agadir!