Wednesday, October 31, 2012

getting lost in marrakech

a few days in gibraltar - but africa is too close and so we can't resist the calls to come over.
we board a ferry from algeciras to tanger, board a train and go south.
on the way - a different world - sometimes beautiful, sometimes sad...all this rubbish! -what did we ever think when we started wrapping our food in plastic? tonnes of plastic bags caught in kakteen, in trees (a lot of eucalypts again), just flying through the air like autumn leaves...pretty and yet so horrible.

after 10h of numbing our butts we get off in marrakech! the owner of the riad where we will stay organised a taxi to pick us up.
a near death experience is what you have to call a taxi-ride through this mess of traffic! ;)
we get off the taxi to be taken by another guy to our riad which is right in the medina. we walk past little shops, people screaming selling fruit and handbags...faces smiling at us (probably welcoming their new pray...i get to that later!) and smells of food and urine...crazy - another magic planet!

the riad was just phantastic and i can only recommend it to everyone going to marrakech! it was simply a calm oasis in all the bubbling and brothing turmoil of marrakech.

the city, especially the medina forces you to a balancing act between positive and negative. one one side there would be a wonderful spice shop, or coran school right next to a spot that has been used as dump/public toilet, followed by a butcher that has the alive chicken in the back and when you choose yours, makes it "table ready" right in front of you. the smells are sometimes overpowering, the poverty of the people is always heartbreaking and the way some of the donkeys (who are still a very common means of transport) are treated is excruciating.
seeing the monkeys on the main square is a reminder that animal welfare is a luxury good.
people are generally friendly - but never make the mistake of pulling a map out in the middle of the street. our experience in short:

us: "where the heck are we? - let's have a look on the map!"
some guy: "you need direction? go to tannery! fest of the colors, my brother work there! you go tannery!!!!"
us: "oh well, why not!"
2minutes later the same guy next to us walking: " i show you way to tannery! - my brother work there - I don´t want money - you don´t pay me for showing the way!" (it is common practice to get money out of tourists when showing them their way - no matter if they want to be shown or not)

we arrive at the tannery - where leather is made under what have to be the worst circumstances (and there goes my handbag....what a shame - but after seeing people up to their waste in poison handling rotting skin...) 

after the tannery (of course) we are taken to the shop to be shown carpets and leather products. we resist - talk our way out of the showroom. outside however - the first guy and his brother aka tour guide around the tannery wait for us and ask for 200dirham (20€). being told it was all for free, we did not let them intimidate us  and gave them the amount we were told was reasonable: 15dirham and took off.

nevertheless, walking through the medina feels quite like being taken back a few centuries into tales of the book of thousand and one night.
the desires of orient are more than fulfilled and all these colors and smells and noises feel like a wild dream.

marrakech is a demanding and beautiful place...and a night train ride later, he dream of orient is over - we're back in La Linea and trapped between weather systems and lows blocking our way to the canaries.

where all the mercs go...

Saadian Tombs

Saadian Tombs

one of so many donkeys...poor beast of burden

foxy bike!

Ben Youssef Madrasa/ old islamic university

Ben Youssef Madrasa

the long jeans shall not was damn hot!

nicest colours and patterns

tiny study and dorm room at the university

the storch of thousand and one night

going home for lunch - with a live chook

one of the butchers with the alive animals in the back - and alive flies in the front

wool died in the streets

tannery - the smell is unbearable

another tannery, same smell

entry to one of the souks

jardin majorelle - yves saint laurent museum

Dar Si Said

Monday, October 8, 2012

obstacles in the way

we started in Fomentera at 06:00am in complete darkness and soon after the wind started moving us along with nice 6,5 to 7kn but the swell was just awful! very short 2-3m high waves made it impossible for us to sail directly downwind (as the course would have required) because the odd higher wave would make the sails flap with a big bang. so we gybed and gybed adding a total of app.60nm to our trip. 
the first night the rolling movement of our boat made it impossible to sleep.
pretty tired we thought, that if conditions didn't improve we´d be tired enough to fall asleep anyway and so kept going.

our decision was encouraged by lots of dolphins playing in our bow-wave and by what would have to be the most amazing and rare sight in the mediterranean: mark saw a sperm whale breeching out of the deep! (unfortunately I was off shift at that moment and got out too late, only seeing it breathing on the horizon.)

at around lunchtime the wind died off  - so did the swell soon after and thank god we got some sleep.
just one hour before midnight though in mirror like waters the odd bit of bamboo was floating on the surface. the wooden bits got bigger and bigger, leaving me with a massive "tree-paranoia" and my eyes fixed to the radar-screen.

just a couple of hours later the carpet of debris (which must have been a remain from last weeks floods in southern spain) got so thick one of us had to look out at the front of the boat with a torch. lots of lemons and oranges where floating past, making you wonder, where the tree to it would wait for you!
the debris kept reappearing for at least 150nm even though we were mostly more than 40nm off shore.

the rest of the trip was rather uneventful. as we would have arrived in Gibraltar in the dark we decided to pull up at Fuengirola just 50nm short of Gib and have a rest. our first anchorage within a break wall proved to be very rolly again, so we snuck into the marina tying off at the fuel dock for the night. a very cheap and peaceful alternative;)

the next morning we headed towards Gibraltar in very dense fog - and again the radar proved to be a great piece of equipment. I love it!!!!!!
through the fog you could hear the fog horns of hugh cargo-ships...what an orchestra!

as we got closer to Gibraltar the fog slowly started to rise and "the Rock" appeared in front of us.
surrounded by massive ships going around the rock into the bay of Gibraltar felt like going into the heart of a big machine. a very different experience from what I was imagining before we got here.

we went to the marina in La Linea which is on the spanish side and found a nice spot to prepare for the jump into atlantic. before we leave we will take a ferry across to Morocco and travel down to Marrakech. let´s see what is awaiting us there!

so after two and a half months we made our way through the mediterranean who almost gave us the feeling in the last few days it did not want us to leave with putting obstacles in our way.
I have to admit, I am a bit proud of accomplishing the first part of our trip.
we had a great time, a wonderful summer and perfect conditions to get to know our maloo (i.e. strong winds or none of it - choppy seas and short waves or none of it etc...and sometimes all of it in half a day;)). I reckon we could spend years in the med as there is so much to explore and see - and I am very sure, we will come back and do so!
she´s a great lake to be on - unfortunately she either is to be motored or sailed in rough seas ...but the places to be found, the people to be met and the food to be had make up for a lot of it.
autumn has definitely moved in though and another ocean is calling out for us! 

take care, dear mediterranean! and see you again!

spanish coast in fog

sometimes we could not see further than the boat is long

dolphins hunting for breakfast

"the rock" appearing on the horizon

europa point and it's mosque

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

a lonely beach in the mediterranean

leaving Palma we had a good sail down to Ibiza, where we spent the night anchored in front of the main habour and left the next morning to go to Formentera.
we have had enough of towns for a while and hence decided to move on to a nice quiet anchorage.
we enjoyed the last days of summer in a wonderful bay resembling what I think looks like some lonely pacific island, walked along the beach and had a very uncomfortable roly night...not so nice. we moved on to another more protected anchorage further down, took a walk through La Savina and just relaxed for a while, preparing for our last jump to the westerly end of the mediterranean.

anchorage under the cathedral of eivissa (ibiza)

salt lake on formentera

an almost australian like beach