28 October, 2011

Remembering the diary: last days in the Mediterranean Sea

The first time that i see the Gibraltar mountain, and also some mountains of the African continent, my belly feels funny, my heart gets more pressure, and I smile with satisfaction. This is a nice achievement i think. I have this picture in front of my eyes during 3 days before I actually get to Gibraltar. That day was really special. It was all gratitude from everybody I was finding on my way. Already in the morning in Sabanilla I was having breakfast as some young guys were coming from an after-party and were inviting me to a drink at their chiringo "El Garito de Juan". Beer with muesli to start the day, together with bongos and andalusian songs. Some miles after I receive a second breakfast from a couple in a sailing boat, this time a bit more healthy such as toasts and coffee. This couple, Pelayo and Macarena, were very very kind, and when they hear about my post of "where do you charge your mobile...?" they laugh and she gives me a solar charger for my phone, and also a book for lonely sailors. It tells the story of the Mini-Transat, a race with small boats that starts in France and ends in Brazil. Amazing! Good winds for you, young sailors of good heart!
I have to keep going if i want to get to Gibraltar. But today i will be stopped a third time. Curiously this day I have to paddle very very close to the beach so that i am protected from the wind coming from the inland. The beach is full of people (it muss be Sunday) and everybody is staring at me: "look mum! look!", "a kayak!". But their faces are even better! After hundreds of people have seen me paddle by, a big family from La Linea shouts at me very energetically, and asks me to stop if I am hungry, and join them for a meal. Laughing I cannot deny. I can hardly step out of the kayak that each of the members is introducing themselves and I receive kisses from all the women. It happens so quickly that i already find myself sitting with them with a plate full of food in front of me and thousand questions in the air. One of the members, Ivan, practises running with incredible passion. It remembers me to Juli, also an addicted to this sport, or way of living. Ivan has an interesting blog called "occasional nomad". So it is very easy to share points of view and opinions with him. When I leave they sing to me "Adios con el corazon", which is very emotive. How many presents I think... all these livings are very beautiful and i feel grateful for all of them.

But the day still did not end. Just before crossing the border between Spain and Gibraltar I ask somebody also with a kayak to take me the "winning photo" (above). Perfect! Now lets cross the boarder. I allow myself to take another picture as I am very curious of how a piece of England remains and keeps separated in this big rock. So I picture the boarder, and decide to get inside when I suddenly hear a very loud noise. I look to my left and big lights are pointing directly to me. The first I think during these 2 seconds before I realise the truth is: "these english people and their strict controls! Are they coming after me now or what?!". Then I see the airplane but the scene remains spectacular. So close, so loud, and so quick, that I hardly have time to turn and take a proving pic.

When I get to Gibraltar they first think that I might be an illegal immigrant from Morocco and naturally everybody stares at me. So a young blond woman police officer comes to me and gently asks for my identification. Sure!
At the end everybody is showing to be very kind and is helping me out with keeping the kayak safe from the monkeys (I actually did not see any) and giving me some vegetarian rice (they call it rice for the poor people) and wine from a local family, which alerts me from killer whales (he has the theory that someday a killer whale/orca will attack people as the red tuna is disappearing because of too much fishery). Thank you for the meal, but the thing of the orcas does not help me at all! I was grown up with the movie Jaws (all of them!). Steven Spielberg traumatised me for the rest of my life, and I am sensible about such things. But my uncles Marga and Ramon, are there to calm me down. They are going to join a wedding in Cadiz, and decided to watch after me. I am actually very happy to see them and we spend the last night in Mediterranean waters together! Thank you for being there!

The next day i stand with my kayak in front of the Algeciras bay, with doubts. They told me so many things: I should not cross the bay cause of the ships, or cause of the whales, if I do so I should alert maritime transport coordination, etc.... But my uncle gives me the signal and kind of pushes me into the water. Ok lets do it! I check first the big ships, most of them are anchored. In the middle seems to be a very fast one that

goes to Ceuta and comes back in less than 30 min. The bay is 8 km long and this should take me a bit more than an hour, so this ship should cross at least twice. Precisely. Before
crossing the traffic route I realise that a very big ship  is moving out of the bay. I remember the port of Barcelona, how quick they actually are moving, and although it looks that I would have time to cross, it is just an illusion. So I wait. But waiting is full with thoughts of the orcas... and of course at this moment something big moves in the water. I pray for it to be dolphins. And so it is. About 15 dolphins coming happily towards me. They jump out of the water and make some turns. It is the first time that I see them and it is quite impressive to have them so close, as with the kayak you are at water level. I hear them breathing strongly. They get even closer, but after me making some noise they leave me on my own again.

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