Friday, February 15, 2008

Sitting on the dock of the Straight

There’s something really annoying about that moment in any story about a model where she’s doing something very tedious backstage and turns to the camera and says, “See, its not so glamorous after all.”

We’re in the equivalent of the endless make-up session here in Algeciris, Spain, the part of Europe that seems ready to kiss Africa on any map. The peck on the cheek best be worth the wait because we arrived at the ferry terminal just before 1pm and are currently in line for a boat which will leave sometime after 6pm. Then we’ll float to Ceuta, a tiny sliver of Spain which has been misplaced on the African side of the Straight of Gibraltar. We’ll drive into Morocco-proper and no doubt clear customs in a matter of seconds before being magically transported to Asilha for cous cous, hookah and other delicious clichés.

World travel isn’t very glamorous or romantic or exciting in the fifth hour sitting in a stationary car waiting for a ferry to come back from its last trip. But for a splash of romance Steve fired up the camp stove, cooked pasta and opened a can of lychees. Some bars of Swiss chocolate functioned as a second dessert and have slowly disappeared as the hours tick by.

Like a model getting her hair done, the reality of it isn’t so arduous or uninteresting if you think about it. There are a lot worse things to do than sit around doing nothing on your way to the runway. But that’s easy to look past now as the clock clicks over to 10:00pm. We’ve been here more than ten hours now and though it looks like they’ve unloaded the ferry and might soon let us on we’re not counting on it.

“We’re getting ready to rock here?” Bouey said hopefully just now as some more trucks rolled off the boat.

“There’s still a whole ‘nother level of stuff to be unloaded,” Craig said, having just come back from a chilly reconnaissance mission.

We’ve passed time chatting on the CB radios between the two trucks, first freestyle rapping, then fashioning a game of Africa trivia. We’ve watched two pixilated episodes of Flight on the Conchords on my computer. We’ve moved a few hundred yards a few times and guessed what time we’d finally leave the dock. The guesses were all too optimistic.


As it turned out the ferry pushed off just after 11:30 and rocked sickeningly all the way to Africa. The walk to the bathroom wasn’t impossible but it was quite an adventure on the churning deck. There was no point going there though because all the stalls were filled with men who weren’t going to the bathroom. The heaving ended after an hour or two and we cleared customs within another hour or two and then spent a final hour or three getting lost in the Moroccan dark on the road to Asilha.

Morning came some moments later and a man asked us for $5 for parking overnight along the city wall just up from the beach. We spent another $5 on six cups of pea soup, sweet mint tea and bread. We’re in Africa.

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