Monthly Archives: May 2013

GOING CAMPING (FINALLY) (updated June 1)

I rode to the town of El Bosque its the entrance to Grazalema National Park Im stayed at a hotel last night. The both campgrounds are closed during the week, they open today at 5pm. Don’t ask me why I don’t get it? The weather is outstanding, not a cloud in the sky.
I watched bull fighting on TV at a local bar. Thats a blood sport, the bull attacked the horse and lifted it off the ground and knocked the horse to the ground, it was pretty incredible. The horse is wearing a protective cover, so it doesn’t get gorged. That would be a little over the top, then. The guy on the horse was spearing the bull on the back of the neck. So you can see why the bull really didn’t like the guy on the hose. The bull really does scrap the dirt before charging, in case you were wondering.
El Bosque is a Blaco (white town) every building is painted white. I cant believe this trip is happening,
Set up & take down can be amazing sometimes. I have to find accommodation every, night, most of you have a key to your sleeping quarters every night. Travel is not easy, charging batteries, laundry, 3 meals a day, pedaling is work when your carrying your house. I got killed out there yesterday.

20130601-175327.jpg
watching a little bull fighting

20130601-175532.jpg
taking over a hotel room

20130601-175632.jpg

20130601-175651.jpg
Its magic how all tha t shit gets packed up again

20130601-175846.jpg

20130601-180033.jpg
walking here is OK

20130601-180334.jpg
Sunrise 1st night camping in weeks

BACK ON THE BIKE

LEAVING THE AWSOME OASIS PALACE HOSTEL IN SEVILLE. Nico, Carlos, Andrea and the saleswomen Edit, made the Hostel feel like home. (it was home)

20130530-194535.jpg
I like red and saw these $10 bike shorts, had to have them, look good with Blazers Jersey!

I intended to use the bus and train more, and yesterday would have been good. I thought about how I rode out of Seville, when I got to my part of the route I mapped out, it turned out to be a freeway, no bikes allowed. There were 10 policemen stopping cars, profiling, I stood and watched for awhile.

20130530-212628.jpg
They stopped & searched this young couples car.
The 2 officers came over and told me this was a dangerous neighborhood and I needed to leave. I told him I wanted to go south, he gave me directions and off I went. I passed the tenement housing projects, garbage everywhere, graffiti, a part of Seville the tourist don’t see. As I was riding, a couple who were biking stopped me and wanted to know: where from? where to? and what about that bike? She took my photo with Manual, then I took one with him.

20130530-214130.jpg
Manual wanted to be on the Blog, well you made the cut. Thanks for giving me your card in case I needed help or got in trouble
After parting ways I rode a bike lane for a long time. I found this isolated road that took me for awhile.

20130530-215439.jpg

20130530-215503.jpg
The odometer read 730 km
So Im back at the freeway that I was turned away from earlier. I followed a frontage road for about 5km then it ended (just like the sign indicated!) So I took the dirt road that replaced it. I could see my destination across the railroad tracks.

20130530-220125.jpg
You can see the railroad tracks on the left. I unloaded the bike and made 3 trips with the bike stuff. While I was reloading a train came by.
So now I in UTRERA. I would never have found this town, I basically stumbled into it, because it was too late in the day to ride on. This is where the bike brings you places the bus or even a car wouldn’t. It had an amazing history of Castles and Churches. I went to visit the castle in the morning, they gave me the keys and let me go to the tower on my own, it was so awesome.

20130530-221634.jpg

20130530-221657.jpg

20130530-221742.jpg

20130530-221809.jpg
More photos of Utrera
Today was probably my hardest day riding so far,so to speak. I walked up a 2 or 3 km hill, after a failed attempt at hitchhiking.
Im tired, Ill tell about where I ended up later but it was a score.

FEZ , MOROCCO

Im back in Seville, Spain. I haven’t decided whether I loved Morocco or I’m to old to deal with all the crap that comes with traveling in an emerging country (3rd world). My computer keyboard broke so typing and the blog were difficult. I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but the Moroccon’s shake your hand, smile in your face, call you friend, meanwhile they have their other hand and thoughts on whats in the wallet in your pocket. I was taken my first week, I got to the point where I started to trust no÷one. The last day I got so sick of it that I talked the guy who sold little packets of kleenex to tourist down, because I didn’t want to pay his asking price. Thats not who I am.
I made random notes on my Iphone note pad.
1. Someone came through the bus station selling plain white plates. What?
2. I dont drink alcohol for whatever reason, but traveling, drinking can double your cost if your not careful. If I have one year of money Id rather not drink and travel the full year instead of just 6 months.
3.when I met a Moroccon and told them I was from the USA, they yelled back OBAMA! he’s loved down here.
4.When visiting Sidi Ifni, I went to a local restaurant, I asked for a menu and he took me out to the sidewalk and pointed to the pizza place down the street. I looked at him and laughed and so did he, it was definitely a LOCALS ONLY place. The pizza was good, vegetarian.
5. Just my Mortgage is $50 a day, the camel trip was only $35 a day.
6. Theres more pan handlers in Portland than Morocco, and we have more opportunity than in Morocco to better your life.
just some observations
I got a photo with a couple of Policemen in Portugal. Then when I got to Spain I showed them the Portugal photo,they offered to have their picture with me, so yes I did. Well that wont happen in Morocco, it is FORBIDDEN. I heard that over and over.

20130528-221818.jpg
I couldn’t resist this shot

20130528-222440.jpg

20130528-222500.jpg
Or her
Back to Fez
Heres where it gets fuzzy, the hotel advertised free WIFI, it was broken for the 3 days I was there and Im guessing probably longer. I paid for my there nights then started to realize they were remodeling the upstairs, so I stayed away during the day because of the all day hammering. So I got up early and searched for the nice hotels that had the big tour buses in front. I would go in and use the internet then treat myself to the breakfast buffet. Travel is adventuresome and trying at times.
The french influence is awesome, with all the bakeries.

20130528-225303.jpg
I found this awesome chicken place near the hotel, I ate there every night. Of course it got more expensive each time, plus americans tip. First night I got 1/4 chicken, then I got 1/2 chicken the next night, then I got a whole chicken and made sandwiches for the train.
/

20130528-225748.jpg
I usually do the thumbs up, they did it without any coaxing. They were really great people and the chicken and BBQ sauce were over the top great

Another interesting thing was the human parking meters, people who help you park, collected money and watched your car for you.

20130528-230340.jpg
They worked for the city government and were on nearly every street.
Theres so much more, but Im tired.

So I walk out to get my bus to the airport, it drives by as I’m walking up. So its hot I wait maybe 10 minutes and decide to just get a cab~they’re everywhere.The bus is $4, so I offer the cab guy $7.50, he nods and waves me in. As we get close to the airport his car dies, out of gas, just short of the airport, then he wants $13 for the cab ride that fell short. I should have paid him nothing and walked but I didn’t. I paid him the agreed price but again I didn’t receive the agreed upon service, thank you & farewell Morocco, for a long long time. My photos are here

Sidi Ifni, Morocco

Thanks to Ken Southerland’s advice on a city in Morocco to visit and place to stay Suerta Loca. Ken & Heidi are traveling around the world visit them HERE
I’m in Sidi Ifni where it’s pretty mellow compared to crazy Marrakesh. I bought a bag of dates at the Farmers Market here today, got 5x’s as many dates at 1/5 the price that I paid in Marrakesh. Bought plums and bananas, I haven’t eaten bananas in 12 years in the states, so this is a treat, for sure. They have those really sweet little ones. I spent some money at the market today. $100 worth of jewelry, knife, Mickey Mouse ring for Stanley and misc. stuff. Trust me, it made their day and mine. Got the Laundry done today (who cares?) ME.
At the farmers market their was a ton of used shoes, it was so weird. Where did they get them?.

20130520-193239.jpg
There were hundreds of shoes almost every 4th booth had used shoes. I found out today that the shoes are from Europe.

I bought a kilo of strawberries today for $2.50 and some yogurt. I shared them with the german lady in red and her 14 year old son who’s here surfing.

20130520-222128.jpg
This is my our beautiful host Malika and the Suerta Loca
I biked both north and south, north is the arched rocks along the beach.

20130522-092850.jpg

20130522-093108.jpg
This is the “bike” surf shop rental office.
Then the trip north was really enlightening, those plastic bags that being banned around the world? Well they need to be banned here. I actually took a bag to the farmers market and wanted to put the strawberrys in it, he wouldn’t do it, he wanted me to have a new bag. Anyway south was the landfill and an ocean of plastic bags in the surrounding area while the garbage was being burnt. Burning plastic, nice smell and great for the environment.

20130522-093933.jpg
I suspect a plastic bag or two & a few plastic water bottles are mine.
The King of Morocco is trying to do the Portugal thing here and build a bunch of condos and try to attract tourist. So on the south ride I went by a cement plant that was making port construction walls. There had to be a thousand of them. They current port wall is to small their going big time.

20130522-094941.jpg
Look closely and compare the size of the cement tops to the trucks,
I moved to a hotel with an unobstructed ocean view, I can’t afford that at home but for 2 nights I can afford it here.

20130524-085751.jpg
I have photos Here
I didn’t have time to tag the photos while they were being upload for an hour. I made comments in the comment box, you can add a comment or just read mine.
To save time checking the blog for updates you can sign up for the RSS feed from my homepage. It’s easier than you think.
Thanks for following this trip. 3 more days for Morocco, then back to the bike. I think bike travel probably cost 1/2 as much as what I’m doing now.

CAMEL RIDING AND CAMPING IN THE SAHARA DESERT

I signed up for a tour to the Sahara Desert from MERZOUGA, Morocco’s only genuine saharan erg is ERG CHEBBI. The 3 day tour included camping, hotel, some meals and a 1200 km mini-bus ride for the price of $100. When I worked (hard) for Portland Bicycle tours we had a 5 hour wine tour that was $90. This might be one of the advantages of traveling 3rd world. I define 3rd world as when you see people coming from the grocery store with there goods on a donkey, or is that the future after oil? just an observation. We stopped at AIT BENHADDOU, TODRA GORGE, TINGHIR and a fossil stone factory (that for me was awesome) probably the least favorite of the group. I’ve bought a couple rocks, been taken everytime. I think I’m a good businessman but I’m lousy at bargaining. I paid a fortune for a couple rocks and the hash was expensive too.
There were 3 twenty year old girls from the Southern USA who were studying in the UK and Spain. They were riding the folks ticket. They each bought themselves a rug at the rug shop stop. One called Dad to OK the purchase, kinda cute in a way. Their photo is in the stream of pictures I posted.
No-one says Bonjour (French is spoken here) to me it’s always Hello I’m obviously a target tourist, I should be ready, but their good, very good.
Well after many tourist stops we end up at the desert and within 30 minutes we were on the camels and off we go. 10 minutes later I was done, that was fun. But truly an hour and a half is a long time on a camel. There;s no stirrups like a horse saddle, your legs just hang and my ball were killing me (I wasn’t the only one to complain). We arrived at camp and hiked to the top of a dune, I only went 1/2 way. I told them to photo shop me into one of their pictures so it looked like I hiked to the top. They had a snowboard (sandboard) a couple of Polish girls got on and slide down, they were loving it. We slept in tents (no formal bathroom) pee in the desert and hold that poop in. We were up at 5am and riding back, we saw the sun come up about 1/2 way through the ride. I got the camel that had the supplies, it was super comfortable compared to the ride out. I was the only one to tip the guides that lead (walked) us out and back. At that moment I was proud to be an American and share what We & I’ve worked so hard for and share it with people who showed me a great time. I even tipped the guy that made our free breakfast at the Hotel.
The driver was driving pretty fast, one of the girls got sick (she said it was the flu) but the driving didn’t help. I told him to slow down or no tip. It worked, amazing. I took a few pictures, but let me just say it was one of those roads you see on National Geographic, fucking SCARY. I got a few pictures, but they aren’t of some of the craziest roads we drove. Jesus I was kinda scared, I told the girls that’s the 3rd world travel bargain, guard rail, hit or missing, life still goes on, hopefully! This is where my T-shirt “God Doesn’t Like me” hopefully doesn’t apply.
It was a really fun 3 days, I would do that again if the opportunity showed itself.
So the driver had our lives in his hands, so to speak. When we arrived in Marrakech, I tipped him, again NONE of the other 12 travelers did, WTF really. It was a 3 day $100 tour. How much could they be making? Proud to have the resources to share with others, who could use it. Everyone else was let out of the van to get back to their hotel, the driver took me back to mine. What goes around comes around, remember that.

20130519-090658.jpg
THIS IS WHAT A CAMEL TOE REALLY LOOKS LIKE

20130519-090857.jpg
VERY EARLY MORNING CAMEL RIDE, SUN JUST COMING UP
MORE OF MY PHOTOS HERE
GOOGLE PHOTOS OF:
MERZOUGA
AIT BENHADDOU
TODRA GORGE

WELCOME TO MARRAKESH, MOROCCO

Thank you for a 3 hour bus layover, in Agadir, Morocco. I got some blog time now, while I watch football (soccer) in the cafe. I’ve been so busy, the third world travel is cheap but has a price, it’s a ton of work. Let me just say no bike here is alright. I met a women from New Zealand this morning, she’s biking around Morocco, Why? There’s barely room for the cars and trucks little lone a cyclist. After telling her about my travels, I think she may meet me in Spain, Abbey, is quite the rider though, been a lot of places.
Marrakesh definitely has got it going on, how? who knows? Some how this city is working, it’s pretty crazy on the streets. I’ve been hit on endlessly for “helping” me when I got lost. There’s no free advice, no tourist information building your on your own and the hundreds of independent businessmen that want to help, for a price. I ‘m riding the bus around town instead of taking a taxi, with the people, you know.

So my first day here, someone mentioned about it being the last day of a tanning festival. Then someone approached me and started talking, he passed me over to another person who “happen” to be going that way. I was almost there then I realized I was being scammed. I went to the “tannery”, that’s basically lots of dead animal skins (sheep,goat,cow,camel) and they stink BAD. A few pictures later I was in the showroom of rugs, purses, shoes and other misc. leather goods. They started bringing out the rugs, I just walked out. I got to the street and the guy who led me around wanted to get paid. I emptied my pocket of change ,handed it to him and he threw it back at me. They offered to show me the Tannery but whatever. F them.

I stumbled on the Earth Cafe, vegetarian/vegan while walking around town. It was such a calm from the storm I didn’t want to leave. I was looking through my guide book today and they gave it a must eat at place, good accidental score. I’ve been twice, so far.

I finally up loaded some photo’s and branded their location etc. I hope you all enjoy them, it took quite awhile to upload (3rd world internet)I

I’ve had to make some notes (on the iphone)
1. the women are working hard in the fields the men are sitting around drinking coffee, not everywhere or everyone, but alot.
2.We were in the middle of nowhere, there were plastic bags everywhere, I have no idea how they got there? It’s windy at times?
3. In Portugal someone asked how I afforded this trip, I told them I rented my house out, he commented that “I traded my house for a tent.” He said that’s what he was going to do.
4 Blame the lack of Blog work on the hash, enough said!
5. While on a tour, the mini-van was driving on the gravel shoulder because it was in better shape than certain parts of the road. If you look on a map you’ll see Merzouga is out there, way out there. I have no idea how they paved any of it.
6 I ate at McDonalds, I was too tired too deal with it. I told the guy last time I traveled around the world I had a Big Mac in every country. He told me these were the best because the animal is killed by Muslim tradition which is with a sawing action-I’m not kidding. The McDonald’s was packed for your information. It tasted like a Big Mac tastes, around the world the same (except Switzerland had the best)

20130519-085250.jpg
THE ONLY GUIDE WHO DIDN’T ASK FOR MONEY, HE WAS VERY FUNNY TOO

20130519-085408.jpg
STICKER ON BACK DOORS OF BUS
MY PICTURES ARE HERE