5th story : Sagres/Portugal to Tangier/Marocco (29.10.04 - 25.11.04)

After waiting in Sagres for a few days we went to Lagos. On October 30th we checked into the wonderful Romantic Hotel Vivenda Miranda. Our friends Heidi and Ingo from Germany own this great hotel and had given us free accommodation as a wedding present. A day later the two of them arrived as well and we spent some really wonderful days together including nice walks at the beach and a great trip by boat. On November 3rd we had to leave because our next visitors were waiting further down the coast. After some sunny days in Lagos the town unfortunately said good bye to us in pooring rain, which didn’t want to stop for the next 61km and really slowed us down. But we managed to catch up the next day and arrived on time on November 5th after 230km on the road in Mazagon/Spain. Here we met with Christine and Michael who wanted to finish the rest of their trip here. ( We had crossed the border to Spain on November 4th). We had a perfect and wonderful day together at the beach collecting shells. Ironically here we found the St. James shells in all differnt kinds of sizes and colors (the symbol of the St. James Route). Christine as well as Heidi brought some new equipment along from Germany. Once again thank you !

The equipment : We don’t know ourselves what’s wrong with us but we believe strongly that we will get the  world’s worst user  award. We have had already some smaller and bigger problems before. In Lagos we had to replace our waterproof panniers becauce the  light   version was simply not waterproof. We couldn’t believe it ourselves since we have used Ortlieb products and panniers all over the world in all different kind of situations. The fabric got more and more porous. During one of the last tests we simply put water inside and it come right out of the fabric just like jute fiber. (Some have already suspected us of having hugged a cactus, no, we are innocent). Now we are back to the roots using the PVC version (the ones we have been using for over 13 years now without problems, which are heavier, though), fortunately they have changed the mounting system especially for us to QL2 which allows us to use a special security device. We are pretty happy again.
We have also used quite a bit of seamsealer for our 2nd tent because some of the seam tapes are not waterproof anymore. We also had to soak our Goretex Jackets and Pants in water repellent as well as our shoes. Fran’s great Nike  I can do everything  watch, which is supposed to be waterproof up to 30m, hasn’t even survived a few days of pouring rain at her wrist. And finally after 5800km on the road both our front tires (20’’ Schwalbe Marathon) said good bye within 48h. We carry one folding spare tire along but for replacing the second one we had to use a BMX tire which reminds more of a tractor style one. All of a sudden there was a bump, something got broken inside and going along was more like jumping on a trampoline. Fran’s tire also  developped  a cut which got bigger within a few kilometers. Only Mr. Tuffy (a plastic inlay between tire and tube) prevented a flat tire. At least the Rohloff gearbox is still performing without problems. Let’s wait and see what’s next.
Our newest toy is a mutimedia MP 3 player with a 40GB hard disc. We have used already 25GB for our music from our computer back home, we will use the rest for storing pictures and voice recordings; it also features a radio.

At least something has disappeared since we left Mazagon: the rain has gone ! And there is beautiful sunshine ! It seems that we have finally met the sun on November 9th right after our last 100km ride around the Guadalquivir River delta and 250 km in total from Mazagon to El Puerto de Santa Maria.

Our bike computer was already showing 5970km when we arrived in El Puerto de Santa Maria in Southern Spain right across the bay from Cadiz. Here Fran’s mom and her brother Tom were already waiting for us.
They had moved into a nice apartment the day before and were waiting for us with medicine, insulin and a nice asortment of vegetarian specialties. We guess, it will take some time before we are able to get soy sausages again.
From November 9th to 18th we spent some time together and visited the area including Sevilla, Cadiz and Gibraltar.

During our last stretch to Tarifa we had a special meeting : 2 months and 1700km ago in Santiago we had met a German couple at the campground, chatted and even exchanged a book. A month later they passed by shortly before Sagres in Portugal and there was a big hello. This time shortly before Conil they once again passed by and invited us to visit them at the campground. We had a nice evening together. They have both retired early and spend their winter in sunny Spain in a big camper plus 4WD and their 2 dogs. This is of course much nicer than being in Germany, we guess,especially when we watched the news that evening via satellite.
By the way, the rain led to quite some green in the landscape, actually it looks like spring in Grermany right now.

On November 20th we have arrived in Tarifa – 1708km since Santiago and a total of 6084 km. We took the speed ferry to Tanger the same day. First we couldn’t believe the prices we found on the website but it was true. They charge 24.50 Euro per person plus 15.00 Euros per bike (79.00 Euros one way for 35 minutes !). The ferry turrned out to be a Norwegian one (including the orginial duty fee shop and the prices).

Finally in Africa !

We have already contacted the tire company Schwalbe and they will send 2 sets of new tires to Marocco- free of charge ! We will see what the custom officer will say.
In the meantime we will stay a few days in Tanger to get used to everything. We have moved into an old hotel in the old part of Tanger. The cultural shock was not as bad as expected. While Hendrik was looking for a good and cheap place to stay , I took care of our bikes and watched the world go by. Her you can find almost everything here , women in veils or in miniskirts.

Right now there are hardly any tourists in Tanger and we get a warm welcome nearly everywhere we go a second time. Best of all was a streetseller who asked us when we passed by on foot the evening of the first day : Where are your bicycles ? 
We plan to follw the coastline with stops in Rabat, Casablanca and Agadir. We also plan to visit Marrakech.

Here in Morocco we are faced with a whole new challenge : After using French, Spanish and Portuguese keyboards we have to deal with French/Arabic ones now. You can find everything you are looking for, it is just all misplaced somehow…

>> 6th story Tangier to Guilmim