OK, so I haven't written anything for over a week now, and I need to catch up on some stuff. There are two reasons for this: firstly, like anything wonderful and beautiful this cycle of ports has become a little routine. I’m getting to know these places better and starting to enjoy them without feeling the need to gush so much. The other is my determination to finish reading Bleak House by the end of this trip and to finish my book, which I’ve been writing for years and I want to ensure is complete, although I’m sure it's nothing publishable it would be nice to say I’ve written one.
So where did I leave you? Ah, the day at sea!
So we pick up in Lisbon. With hindsight, I think Lisbon is one of three unmissable places I’ve been on this trip. I'll point them all out as we go. I went around it's wonderful flea market and bought a reel of 8mm film of unknown content – I’m excited to see it!
Then I met up with L and we wondered around the beautiful mosaic pavements for a while, nipping in and out of shops. Nothing much happened while with L, but the conversation was good and the surroundings were perfect. The feeling is really impossible to describe, but taking in the little unremarkable features of a place together make a beautiful whole which all the words in the world can't recreate.
Then came Portimao – I went to the beach, which I found to be bright, long and empty for miles. All the shops and cafe's were shut so I wondered taking photographs and writing poetry. This is when I started to feel quite lonely, and the feeling is sticking. I’ve never needed a day off so bad before! Well, only two more months.
Ah! and that's the next piece of news. I’ve been offered another month on my contract. I’m unsure whether to take it or not, but I’m probs going to. I’ve talked it thru with the band and they agree.
Next came Casablanca. I woke up a poor man and became a rich man as I walked deeper into the souk. I saw new things today, the fresh fish on Ice, straight from the ocean just hours before. The giant slabs of meat hanging, flies buzzing around and the hundreds of chickens, looking half dead crammed in cages. Everywhere smelt of effluence. I brought two of round loaves of bread I love so much and gave one to a man I met in the park called Mohammed. He'd travelled to England through France and loved London greatly. He spoke pigeon English and I spoke pigeon French, so communicating was a fun challenge.
I’m going to say while it's happening that I’m listening to 'The Storm' from local band 'That's Not Me' – it's really a solo by Ellie Shutie from their album 'The Road Ahead Is At My Feet'. I really like the album which is still growing on me greatly. Initially I liked a few tracks on it, but the more I listen to it the more I love their unique sound and writing. Their lyrics are incredible, and very relate-able in my current situation. With music like this, the whole Long Haired Music project is so worth it.
Before I left Casablanca, I stopped to buy a packet of cookies from some young girls looking very bored at their family store. 'How Much?' I asked them in bad french. 'One Dirham'. That's ten pence for a packet of cookies. I bought three and gave two back to the girls. 'These are for you' I said. The girl snatched them to her chest and her eyes lit up. 'MERCI BOUCOUP MONSOIR!!!' she shouted after me in abject delight. It's easy to play the good guy when your a rich man. Then I left the souk and became poor again.
Next came Cadiz, a city completely unmemorable to me in every way. I spent the whole day searching for a post office and nothing really else happened. I bought a tambourine for my favourite waitress to beat if it takes her fancy.
Then finally, Gibralter. Finally I got to climb the hill with L and get into the moutain park. It turned out the 18 euros we'd been unable to afford the previous day got us none of what we wanted to see and it would be in fact 23 Euros to see everything in the park. However, we could walk around the whole park for a Euro each. The decision was made. We spent the day teasing the apes, which kept swiping at our cameras. They jumped on the back of one lady. In a moment lacking in empathy we both asked 'hey can we photograph you?'. She said 'Sure, but can we get it off me?'. The moment the ape realised it was being photographed, it jumped down and ran off. L was delightful as usual, and the day was sunny and perfect. I with we could have every adventure together, but out schedules are crazy manic!
Then came Malaga again. This time it was kind of weird. There was some sort of procession going on, with marching bands, brass bands and all these childen and adults in robes that looked like Klansmen, but in different colours. I know these outfits had their origins in Spain, but I don't think the white ones are worn so much now. The kids were all in black or dark red robes, and it looked like a Hogwarts graduation parade as they meandered back through the streets, hoods in hand. I tried to find out more, but all I know is it had something to do with soldiers.
Toulon was fairly dull. I got rained on, had my hair cut on the boat by the genius of Uros, went back out into the sunshine and sowed a patch onto my Uke case while being started at and bothered by teens asking me 'Cigarette? Cigarette?'. Je ne fumer pas, poulet tetes. I really need to learn some more French.
Yesterday I got off in Mahon, and did some clothes shopping with one of the dance team. I’ve not really got to know him yet, but he turned out to be pretty sound. I bought just one shirt, but a really nice one from a designer suite shop. Now I can look good one more day of the week! Was really chuffed with this.
Emily Morgan, an awesome young songwriter from Stamford received my tape in the post. Her tape lives in my van and is my favourite driving music. Check it out if you can find it! I think its called 'Unravel'. Maybe we can bring back the cassette tape! Er, nah.
Today, I spent the day on the outskirts of Valencia with J the ents host. Had a wicked day, grabbed some wifi, and now here I am.
Tomorrow Cartegena and then a new course – Thank goodness! Never thought I'd get bored of Spain, and I probs wouldn't if I had more time in her, but I’m looking forward to some new places. Italy next weeeeeek!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
'Travel is like flirting with life. It's like saying 'I would stay and love you, but I have to go' - Lisa St. Aubin de Teran.
Thanks to Grace for that one.
Miss you England, you have my heart!