Friday, 12 December 2008

Jebel-Al-Tariq

After a snog goodbye at la Linea bus-station with that handsome Scottish lad I had befriended two days earlier, I was left to my own devices again and out on the streets another time.
The same afternoon in the marina I ran into a fashionably shabby looking guy with a backpack, one look on whom sufficed to make out that he was on the same mission as I -another someone trying to hidrostop out of Europe. Turned out he was Czech and lived on one of those squatted farms around Utregg and we had shared acquaintances. From easy chatting, it was thus an easy step to hospitality and I was invited along to join his camp, out on some sort of rubbish dump on the windbeaten side of the great rock whose foot we clung to. Czech boy had been there for two days, at first alone, then with an English bloke whom he met on the backside of Saypheway's, both of them bending over the bins to see what was being chucked away that evening. During the conversation all three of us had around our campfire that night, I got to find out "English bloke" was an ex-hell´s angel. Since hitting people over the head with iron-bars was part of the deal, he had done something like 8 years in prison. He had five daughters, from three or four different mothers, and because of his love for his offspring, he had, somewhat late in life, become a repentant Christian. Rarely do a wooden cross around one's neck and a facial tattoo go together, but here they did.
We ended up talking from moonrise to sunrise that night. The moonrise was blood orange red and sawtooth edged like a bad sign, the sunrise kitschy pink like the dawn of a new day.
Surrounded though by dead tyres and other rotten car-parts we may have been, these were for the moment shrouded in embellishing obscurity, and we felt we were truely in a beautiful spot, perched upon this ledge of rock jutting out over the sea with the waves crashing under us. In any case we had a grandiose view over the freighter strewn sea stretching from the Spanish coastline receding beyond the horizon to the outermost tip of morrocco vanishing in the haze.
As things came, we were to stay in that spot another four days more. And at the end of them our little crowd of three would have become a real party : our number augmented to five, night after night another person joining our little congregation by the bonfire which kept us warm.
On the evening of my second night (or Czech boy's fourth night) we were joined by a student from England. As I saw him in the darkness over the uneven territory carefully make his way over to us, carrying his bike on his shoulder, all this without shoes on, an alarm bell rang in my head: "uh-oh - hippy alarm!". Dunno if this was for the better or for the worse, but it actually turned out he had just had his 500 Pound shoes stolen as he was taking a shower, so he was in fact a perfectly gentrified type of lad. We chatted another night away and it turned out he was of Egyptian Coptic origin and on a trip biking from Hove to Senegal.
The third evening (on Czech boy's account that would have been the fifth) a Polish guy happening to amble past saw the glimmer of our cigarettes lit and came over to ask for a fag. He was on a hitchhiking trip from Warsaw to Swakopmund, if I recall correctly. We chatted among each other and we all got along jolly well.

We were nearing the end of the third week of December and the next day, we found a little christmas tree to put up in order to lend to our improvised camp a homely seasonal allure. Yes, you got it, happenings were getting just a little bit too outlandish and it was time we left.
And so that day, just in time for kismet to strike, Czech boy found an embarcation for both of us on a 30 metre Australian yacht sailing all the way to St. Nevis. On our last evening our bonfire was violently whipped to rags by the nightly wind and we figured it was going to be an uncomfortable night. But the worst surprise was in the morning because as a proper storm was breaking lose, we were awoken not by the soft blue light of dawn tickling with cool fingers on our eyelids as we had been the other mornings, but by the icy crush of ocean rollers breaking on the rock we slept on and swashing all over ourselves. We were drenched and each of us knew we couldn't stay there another night. So while Marek and I moved to our bunkbeds in the marina which were tiny but nonetheless dry and even sported crisp white sheets on the yacht, the other three adventurers set off to find a house to squat. Apparently they were lucky quickly, because they found an abandonned villa that day, with still some dry matresses and the ashes of their predecessors in it.
For Marek and me, the real trip began now : We were sailing the Atlantic.

No comments: