Our route takes us past the turn-off to the Alpujaras, where we spent considerable time three years ago and we feel the pull, but despite the urge to turn off we carry on down towards the coast. We park on the outskirts of Motril and cycle in to see Dr. Nur at his clinic. He welcomes us warmly and gives Frank another full health check (and I’m very happy to report that Frank is even healthier than last year). We’d been hoping we could invite him for a meal chez restaurant Rozelaar, but unfortunately he has no time to see us socially, he’s such a hard-working man…
It is already dark when we leave Motril in search of the sea, and it feels like the end of one chapter and the beginning of another as we rumble along a dirt track in search of a parking space, having traversed Spain coast to coast. When we think we’ve got completely lost, I walk on a bit further on a recce and discover half a dozen campervans snuggled up close behind some large clumps of bamboo. A friendly person waves us into a place. We switch off the motor and fall into bed. Discovery has to wait until tomorrow…
We wake up to the sound of the waves lapping onto a long, clean beach. Very tempting for an early morning skinnydip
It’s a motley crew here on this piece of abandoned land at the end of a bumpy track, Germans, British, French, Spanish and José from I don’t know where. Not sure if he knows either. He speaks many languages fluently and has spent a number of years living in Morocco. He’s a fountain of knowledge; not just about places we should go and visit or those we should avoid, but he also gives us many useful hints about Moroccan culture.
Our stay on this beach turns into a couple of days’ lessons on Morocco. His love for the country shines through and it is very encouraging to hear him speak about how safe it is to travel there and how friendly the Moroccans are.
One lunchtime, we share a meal together, fish freshly cooked on our BBQ and I play with his dog who not only brings you a ball but first nudges you to play, then barges you and finally bites you if you don’t react! Eventually ‘papa’ José puts his foot down and wedges the ball between two branches high up into a tree and we can eat in peace.
I spend best part of two days ringing around different health and car insurances to try and make us safe and secure ( as much as one ever can be), to no avail. It seems that between the fact that Frank is over 70 and that we have already left the UK, no-one wants to insure us for Morocco. How very frustrating. This is a lesson we have learnt: sort out insurance before you go, even if you only really need it half way through your trip…
(One week later, we find both car and health insurance, but at a hefty price. Needs must…)
The days fill themselves with preparation for Morocco. We need to find various items and also fill up with LPG (apparently we can’t get this refilled in Morocco). We ask José what are good gifts to take with us and he recommends beer and chocolate.
After a few days, we travel on to pay a surprise visit to Dani in Alhaurin el Grande, the mechanic who helped us so much in our first year. He’s pleased to see us, even touched when he hears that we haven’t come because of a mechanical problem but just to see him.
At Dani’s garage, we meet Alain a frenchman who works for NGO’s all over the world and has strong connections to Morocco. Again, we hear only positive things about the country and the people. for example, he tells us of a fishermen’s initiative near Agadir, who established a ban on fishing with nets on a long stretch of coastline. This ban promoted a greater variety of marine life, resulting in one of the healthiest stocks of fish in the area. He tells us about the negotiations he is involved in, bringing the government and the locals together to aim for a sustainable industry. Alain adds pens, pencils and sharpeners, paper etc. to the list of things we might want to take as gifts. He is a marine biologist, so most of his recommendations for special locations concentrate on coastal areas. Our map is filling up with handwritten directions, and we are starting to get excited about visiting all these places we hear about.
We travel on, staying overnight in a remote place in the mountains before once more descending to the sea. Our next port of call is San Pedro, near Marbella, to meet up with Tina (mother of one of Yolanda’s friends). It is lovely to see her and to have a good chat – when you are travelling, it’s rare to meet someone you’ve known for a long time, so we delight in catching up with each other and to share our experiences as mothers and women who are in this precious stage of transition through menopause.
The area of Marbella and San Pedro is really British – and also Russian – expat land. There is a place in between the two where the feeling is really quite hard, with armed security on the entrances of huge shopping centres and many signs in russian. But in contrast to the many highrise buildings, ostentatios hotels and shops after shops, the sea is one beautiful long stretch of sand or at times pebbles, the water is very clear and there is a beautiful long promenade one can cycle along. In fact, in our fruitless search for good maps of Morocco, we cycle for miles and miles in both directions, enjoying the sea air and one evening even watching a dolphin jump and hunt for fish.
We spend a couple of quiet nights near San Pedro in an abandoned car park by a closed hotel. Off season, it’s very quiet here – the only car that comes by once an hour is the security guard who on the first night reaches for his baton when we approach him, but he soon realises we are harmless. We have late night or early morning dips in the sea, roll out our yoga mats on the abandoned wooden walkways in the mornings, and during the day we do a lot of research online for our pending Moroccan adventure, using the hotel’s internet connection (Thank you!).
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