|Написал Sascha Grabow & translated by Mohamed Oladib (arabic)|
|Tuesday, 31 August 2010|
paying tribute to my readers longing for an update on my travel stories, here we go! ENJOY:
Finally I am back in Africa! You can feel it instantly! Hitchhiking 300 km in Spain from Alicante to Almeria, after visiting Ibiza for a couple of days, there tenniscoaching and physically preparing a friend for an upcoming grasscourt tournament, it takes me full two days!! Then a ferry takes you across to Melilla, only meters away from Morocco. The moment you get into the first town, Nador, people are curious, friendly, engaging, it never takes more than 15 minutes to catch a ride, I am being invited to stay with Ibrahim in Casablanca, the one who gave me the last, very long ride down South from the northern coast. I meet his wife and his one-year-old son, we eat heartily at two a.m. what has been prepared for his return as it is Ramadan, meaning daytime fasting for 30 days is in accordance with the religion, with the rare exception valid for travelers (e.g. on foot), as well as pregnant women.
Next evening I continue South towards Agadir. You won't believe what happened to me:
Two guys pick me up, speeding along, the driver smoking cocaine on a plastic waterpipe. He is bragging (in a sometimes indecipherable mix of spanish, french and arabic) that he flew stuff around Colombia, that he was already shot at from a helicopter trying to cross the Gibraltar Straight with 35 kg. They come from Tanger, will offload somewhere South of Marrakech, then drive instantly back. Eventually he tells me to hold his pipe, and he and his friend climb around each other and switch drivers at a speed of 120 km/h!!
When he puts me down at a petrol station after 180 km, he tells me, while some of the workers from the station listen, that he knows every policeman in the whole country! I ask him if he has seen that movie with Johnny Depp (what was the title again? ... Oh Yes ... BLOW!!!), and he replies: "No, but I have seen the one with this guy driving a van like me (from Algeria?)!" ... which I haven't seen ...
Finally, when I'm about to say good bye and find a place for the night to sleep in the restaurant of the station, he jumps out, opens the rear doors of the van, and prooves to all of us that he isn't bullshitting: The van is loaded to the rim with sacks of Marihuana and Hashish!! ... anyone in need of his telephone number?? :-)
... reminds me a bit of the time when, in '99, I hitchhiked with a Colombian police chief on the Panamericana, and we see a square of about 4 times 5 metres of powdered cocaine lying drying there right next to the road! ... are we DOING anything?? God NO!! Not if you want to stay alive!
... and then you think about this other guy who was caught in India some years back with 4 gramms of grass (according to him), and 9 gramms (5 being their legal limit at least at that time) according to the authorities! The guy ended up 4 or 5 years behind bars in an Indian prison, contracting scorbut for lack of vitamin C and thus loosing all his teeth, probably loosing his 'rear-virginity' as well, etc etc. ... and start wondering about the relativity of reality itself!!
The next morning I am being picked up by the first car, 2 girls, going to Agadir. They never realize that they are low on Diesel until we're down to the very last drops. They wait in the car & send me with a canister to a petrol station located parallel to the highway on the local road. Why they didn't fill up from where they picked me up that morning just 40 km earlier? ... I never get to know.
South of Agadir the long road to Mauretania & Senegal starts. Traffic is much higher than expected. From Agadir to St Louis, the first (university) town in Senegal, it is exactly 2350 km! When walking into a small town just after sunset, a restaurant owner invites me (like everybody else, about 40 people total, all men, from the village) to have dinner with them as it is Ramadan, and thus he gives one-tenth (or in this case the twelfth part) back to the people who eat at his place all-year-round. We are having delicious soup, egg, bread, milk coffee and dates. The word to say after such a meal is: "El hamdu Illah" - Thanks be to God. Thereafter I continue, strengthened, my walk South in meanwhile pitch-darkness, with an incredible sky full of stars, the way you can only see it in deserts, feeling like you could make out every single star of the milky way!
Next thing I'm in a truck and we pass Guelmim town, the official Gateway City to the Sahara!
At 12.30 a.m. I catch another ride, am being picked up by Mohamed & his friend Hassan, driving a Mercedes 190 D, the kind we used when trying to drive down from Germany to India in 1994. Mohamed is an english teacher, and the first thing he says is: "You must be a Couchsurfer!" He says it with such conviction, I am really surprised. There I had been planning (but forgotten) to send out some emails from Casablanca, trying to locate the rare couchsurfer in this part of the world, and then HE FINDS ME, in the middle of the night on the road to the Sahara, since about 6 months and a couple of failed attempts almost desperate to make his first 'encounter' respectively hosting experience. We end up, 3.30 a.m., at famous El Quatia beach, south of Tan-Tan (which I guess means I've officially entered Spanish-Sahara-Polisario-disputed territory!), singing, laughing, clapping hands, dancing and kneeling in the sand, them clothed in their typical arabic garment, some one-piece linen wrung around the body (and head for the girls), 'kurta'-style. Thus I'm drinking tea with his very excited friends, male AND female.
... to be continued
Ps: According to Wikipedia I have to correct that Tan-Tan is NOT yet inside Western respectively Spanish Sahara (this locally obtained piece of information seems to have been wrong), even though almost everybody living there ethnically is indeed Sahrawian.
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