Spain - Day 10 : The most southern tip of Europe
Today was our day off, which as usual meant we needed to do a lot of things. First, we had a slow breakfast and then charged our phones and the camera. We cycled to Tarifa. In the distance, you could see the view tower, which had been built on the southern tip of mainland Europe. We cycled through the city to the harbor. From there ran a pier through the water to an island. The island was closed to the general public by a fence. Some car arrived, and someone got out and opened the fence. The car looked official, maybe there was some secret meeting on the island. If this was a James-Bond movie that would definitely be the case. Either Way, this was as far south as we could go. We took a photo in front of the fence:
The most southern point of our trip, and also of mainland Europe.
A few meters away was a sign officially recognizing the most southern point of Europe.
Punta de Tarifa
The pier is the narrowest part of the Street of Gibraltar, which means that its west side is on the Atlantic Ocean and its east side is on the Mediterranean sea.
Left is the Atlantic ocean, our campsite lay in the distance
Right is the Mediterranean sea, in two days we would cycle in that direction.
View towards Tarifa from the pier.
From the pier, we cycled back to the center where we found a gate leading to the old inner city. We locked our bikes and hoped they would still be there when we returned. We bought postcards and stamps. They showed Tarifa with Africa in the distance. Apparently, Tarifa is loved by windsurfers. Half of the stores sold windsurfing gear. In a small souvenir shop I bought a stone tray saying 'Tarifa', but that broke later because my bike fell over. A nearby surf store was playing some weird surf version of Pink Floyd. After a minute, Bram realized it was 'Money' played with pan flutes. After seeing everything, we returned to our bikes. Luckily they were still there. The old center of Tarifa had a nice atmosphere. There were small stores everywhere, white-plastered houses and tiny, cobblestone streets.
The old center of Tarifa.
We walked around some more before really getting our bikes. At the edge of the town were large supermarkets. We bought a mountain of food, including real Spanish dried ham, and cycled back to the campsite. Bram said he wanted to bring an entire pig leg back as a souvenir. Maybe when we are close to the France border he will buy one.
We were still in the parking lot when we noticed a strange guy with a packed bike. I only realized it later, but he was really good with people. He shouted, 'Hey, you look like you can speak English'. So we headed over to talk with him. He looked a bit strange. He was wearing a knitted hat in the 30+ degrees heat. He was also wearing two sunglasses at the same time and had a beard, so we couldn't fully see his face. His arms were covered in bracelets and he wore some leather necklaces with rocks. Basically, he looked like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean but with sunglasses.
His bike had two bags in the front, two in the rear, another bag hung around his neck and he carried two enormous cardboard boxes. One in front of his bike and one in the rear. He was walking because otherwise he couldn't balance everything. He asked if we also thought it was ridiculous that people needed to pay to take their bikes to Morocco. Coincidentally we knew that was possible. We said it was 15 euros, so it wasn't that expensive. He thought that was a lot. He rubbed his beard every time he was thinking. He wanted to go to Morocco with his bike, but as far as we understood his boxes needed to be shipped to Germany.
We asked what was in the boxes. It was his art. He was an artist, but didn't tell us what he made. He also kept his name private, that would of course be giving away too much, and he wanted us to talk with him as long as possible. His art might be assemblies of magazine clippings, as he said he always collected magazines from people's garbage. He wasn't on cycling vacation but had been 'traveling' for several years. Now he was sleeping behind a deserted building behind the supermarket. It smelled terrible where we were, a mixture of salty air with rotten fish. At first, I thought it was this guy, but the next day it still smelled like that when we passed.
He started explaining what he had been doing during the past few years. He didn't want to tell us where he came from, 'countries don't matter'. He was a little bit right. He had spent a long time in Italy where he lived in a large abandoned home. Then he had traveled through France on an old bike someone had given him. Meanwhile, he had been sleeping in abandoned houses, between rats, deer, possums, and wild hogs. After the Pyrenees, his bike fell apart. At the same time his wheels fell apart, his chain broke, and his tires got punctured. I think he was exaggerating a little. He said nobody wanted to help him back then. We said that was stupid. That was of course his intention, because now we had said it was stupid not to help people. Later he had traveled through Spain with a shopping cart. I didn't really believe that, there was at least 20 km between villages and nobody would survive that on foot. Either way, that was how he ended up here, and now he longed to travel through the Sahara. He wanted to go into the real desert and not stay near the coast. To survive that seemed even more difficult.
While he told his story I started to lose interest, so he began about our bikes. He said my steering bars were cool, so I got interested again. It was all working. While telling his story the boxes on his bike moved a bit. By now he was leaning with his entire bike against someone's car. When he wanted to walk off, both boxes with unknown content fell on the ground. We helped him put them back on his bike. Then he asked us, while we were near his bike, if we could deliver his boxes to the postal office. We refused, god knows what was in there. We wished him much luck with his trip to Morocco if he could find his passport again.
Back at the campsite we arranged our own journey to Morocco. There was some confusion. It wasn't possible to go with an ID card after all unless we went on a one-day excursion. That would cost 55 instead of 37 euros. We agreed. Then something else was wrong and it would be 60 euros instead. The lady seemed to be honest and we didn't really care as long as we could go to Morocco. We need to pay a part now and the rest tomorrow. We would be picked up at the campsite.
It was time for lunch. We had bread with ham and tomatoes, which looked like real food. There was a cat on the campsite that came up to us. We didn't move and it lay down next to us. It didn't look very clean and had super large balls, so I scared it away. He returned later to sleep on Bram's bivy bag.
After lunch we went to the beach. After cycling all the way here we of course needed to swim as well. From the campsite we ended up on a walkway to the beach. The beach was huge and people were windsurfing everywhere. In the distance, a section was closed off for surfers so that people could swim safely. First, we walk a few kilometers over the white sand. There were some really talented surfers. It was clear why they were all here, it was super windy.
At the swimming section we got ready. Fortunately, we both brought a bottle of water, we needed that to prevent our clothes from blowing away. The sun was shining hard but the sea was still frigid. We were in the Atlantic, which it seems is never warm. After 15 minutes I had enough, we had been underwater a few times. Bram thought his t-shirt was blown away. It wasn't, after 10 minutes, so much sand had blown on it that it had become covered. We lay down in the sun for a while, but it was so windy that we felt sandblasted. After some more swimming, we returned to the campsite. In the hour we had spent on the beach, Bram's shoes and shirt were almost totally buried.
On the campsite, Bram found a mattress that looked surprisingly like his. Our tents were on the other side of a three-meter-high hedge. Apparently, it was that windy. My tent was blown entirely flat. The showers didn't give water before 6, so we spent the remaining time lying on our mattresses, listening to music, and drinking sangria. Across from us, someone was lying in a hammock reading a book. That seemed nice. Until we suddenly heard something hit the ground. His hammock had come loose, and he had fallen on the ground. We showered at six, but when we were done there still was sand in every opening. Near the campsite was a restaurant where we wanted to eat authentic paella, so we asked what time it would open. Every time the lady replied, 'you can eat until 12'. That wasn't working. Eventually, we worked it out, there was no paella, but the pasta was great too. We went to bed early.
The route of day 10.
Distance cycled : 12 km.