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Iceland: Tips and tricks

Iceland is well known for being the land of ice and fire, and a short trip there will just confirm the impression.

On this post, we will try to share with you some tips about traveling there. Be aware that visiting Iceland is quite expensive and as low budget travelers, we will share a few tips we found out and some places to visit that will not cost you anything to go around!

 

 

 

  • How to move around for cheap
  1. Hitchhike

Hitchhiking is fairly easy is Iceland, but can be quite difficult with the weather conditions. However it doesn’t give you much freedom to access lost locations.

  1. Rent a van

Probably one of the best and cheapest way to travel around Iceland. Companies like Kukucampers are offering some good deals (from 69 euros per days). We used this company and travelled in a Berlingo for 4 days for 89 euros per day for three of us. This saves you to look for accommodation. However, you have to spend the night in designated campsites (around 15 euros per head), to respect the law (we are mentioning what has to be done, up to you then).

This was particularly handy to spend the night in the van, even if space was tight, but we could avoid the -15 degrees outside (yes to your question, the van has a heater).

A liter of gasoline will cost you about 200kr per liter.

I know that sleeping in a van can be a bit uncomfortable and after a few days of exploring you might feel a bit smelly, but don’t be worry! You can access to any swimming pool around the country and they are used to traveller coming to take a shower and have a special rate for us (between 200 to 300 krone).

  • Places to visit

As we have only done the south part of the country and spent only four days there, below are some of the most amazing places we have seen.

  1. Black Sand Beach (Reynisfjara)

Beautiful black send beach near to Vick with stones standing up as pillars (the same structures you will see and dream of in the Giants Causeway in Nothern Ireland and Fingals Caves in Staffa, Scotland).

In order to access there you have to take the Road 1 to Vick. About 10 miles before Wick, follow the road 215 on your right going to Reynisdalur. A little tip, if you arrive late there in the winter month, you can easily spend the night in the carpark by the restaurant and enjoy the sunrise by yourself before the tourist start to arrive the next morning.

  1. Hjörleifshöfði, the first vicking settlement in Iceland

 

 

This is one of the hidden gem we found in our road and actually a very nice hike. When you follow on the the road 1 from Vic, after 12km you will find a road on the right that goes along the mountain (you can’t miss it as this will be the only one you will find around the area that stand in the middle of the black landscape).

This place is named after Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson, who was the blood brother of the first vicking settler in Iceland in arounf 874 AD. I don’t want to spoil it but his brother was killed by his slaves that stole the boat. Hjörleifur found them hiding in the archipelago near Vic and killed them. He then settled in this very spot that you will discover.

From the car park that you will find on the left handsy about two kilometres from the main road, you can start hiking you way up that will bring you to the settlement. In the maintime, take advantage of the wonderful surrounding with the glaciers in the background and the kilometres of black lava around you. This walk will take you abut two hours and was certainly one of the highlights of our trip in Iceland.

  1. Jokulsarlon Lagoon and Diamond Beach

 

 

About 190 kilometres in the west of Wick, you will reach this wonderful place. Imagine a glacier at the very end of the lagoon with icebergs in the lagoon heading to the sea. You will find there a big community of seals and a black sand beach covered with icebergs.

Enjoy the walk around the lagoon banks and Diamond Beach as this is a wonderful place.

Be aware that this is a national park and that swimming is not allowed as currents are quite strong and there are icebergs around.

If you go there, please check for me if they put a no surfing sign 😊 Turns out that surfing is not illegal, but apparently became since our little trip there and our encounter with the authorities – unfortunately they declined my request to name the law after me…

  1. Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River

island - bath

We are all aware of the Blue Lagoon and other similar places, but if you wish to lose your shirt without losing all your savings, there are plenty of other natural hot spring river you can go for free, and one of them is Reykjadalur. Located between Rekjavick and Selfoss, you will have to park the car by the end of the road and hike for about 3.2 miles across a wonderful scenery of mountains and springs to set foot on the river.

Bring some beers with you and enjoy your time in the hot water while pulling your head around the surrounding ice to stay fresh! Simply a magical place to be!

  1. Skogafoss Waterfall

 

 

About 33 kilometres before Vik, you can find one of the most amazing waterfall. You can see it directly from the road and go and see it.

When you get there, just park the car and go explore this wonderful site. On the right handside of the waterfall, you will find some stairs that will bring you to the top and from there a path that will allow you to have a nice hike along the river and some others – small – waterfalls along the way.

6.  Abandoned DC plane on the black beach.

 

 

One of the most curious thing to see in Iceland is this abandoned DC plane at Solheimasandur. Don’t you worry, no one has died and this is not a vestige of the WWII. In 1973, a DC plane ran out of fuel an crash on this beautiful black sand beach on the South coast. It can now offer you the opportunity to take some great pictures around the site surrounded by an amazing landscape and scenery!

Be aware that there is no sign on how to get there but the plane is located about 23 kilometers east of Vick. You can’t miss the car park on the sea side as it is generally quite full despite the two hours walk to get there. It not possible to get there by car anymore, but just start walking through the path and you will get there after a bit of effort.

  • The Northern Lights

northern lights

Iceland is probably one of the most popular places to go to try to spot the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, the weather can be tricky sometimes and you won’t be able to see them. Below are a few tricks to follow to be able to enjoy this amazing experience.

  • Get there in the winter months!

The northern lights happen from November to March (with a few exceptions), so plan your trip accordingly!

  • Get away from the city.

Either in your van, or camping, try to get away from the city to increase your chances to find them. The further you get from any lights pollution, the better are your chances!

  • Download Aurora Forecast on your phone!

We all have a smartphone and this is probably a great thing to have one in Iceland! Download this app and you will have the best chance to realise your dream!

This app allows you to follow the northern lights and to know when they will happen. Despite giving you an accurate forecast about the KP within the next hour (the higher the better), it will also give you the cloud coverage and another bunch of useful information that will allow you to see them!

Iceland is a very special place, and even if you have only a few days there, this can be a hell of a trip and you will see some amazing places around!

Those are only a few advices and tips I am able to provide you with based on a four days trip there, but feel free to get in touch if you want more info!

Travel the world on the cheap!

Teide National Park

Article traduit en francais en dessous 🙂

 

A wee bonus for the occasion with the first video of the world tour:

 

One of the most visited National Park in the world with more than 3 million visitors per years and classified in the World Heritage Site of UNESCO since 2007, I am looking forward to see it with my own eyes.

We leave the boat around midday with Anna, last addition to our crew, to go defied El Pico del Teide and its 3718 meters high. But before that, we need to get to El Portillo, the departure point of the path 6 that is located some 2000 meters high. After 5 lifts, we get there and get some supplies in a restaurant. It is obvious for the owner that we are going on a trek (no one normally constituted buys 10 litres of water) and we decide to start our adventure 500 meters down to avoid any troubles – wild camping being prohibited in the park.

We finally start our way on the path looking for somewhere to sleep as the sun is going down and we do not have to look far away. After 1-kilometre walk, we found a cave at the very end of the forest and decide to establish our home for the night there. It is a traveller dream to spend a night in such a place and to not be disappointed, we have a beautiful view over El Pico del Teide from our “balcony” located over the cave where we can enjoy the beautiful sunset over the summit. The night, as cold as it can be still beautiful with its stars over us visible from our refuge.

We go back on our way the next morning towards the summit and go through some beautiful plains on the north side of the national parc de Teide where dance together volcanic rocks, rocks and vegetation in this desolate landscape with El Pico del Teide for background that is waiting for us.

At the end of the path number 6, we start tackling the number 7 that will bring us to the summit. Our target is to get there by tomorrow morning as it is necessary to get a permit between 9am and 6pm and it takes more than 2 months to get it. No need to mention that we do not have one, and the target is to climb it before sunrise to enjoy the show and then climb down before 9am. We know about the Cueva del Hielo, a cave 48 meters length located about 3300 meters high, and we hope to spend the night there. Unfortunately, after a difficult ascent on the legs, we realise that the ladder to enter the cave has been removed and we must find somewhere else as shelter. Altavista refuge, located 3200 metres high is not an option. It has for refuge only the name as it is more an hotel than anything else that forbid you to spend the night there if you do not have a boo

king and prefer to let walkers sleep outside by -5C than in the common area. We keep going toward the cable car station and stop on the way by a thermal spring coming from the centre of the heart to get a bit warmer. When we get to the station, the salaries explain us that it is not possible to sleep there but offer us to camp under the stairs outside. After 1500 metres of elevation gain in 6 hours, we are ready for a cold night at 3500 metres high, that turns out to be more difficult for Anna that sleeps only one hour during the night.

While I am getting ready the coffee at 5.30am, Tjark, confirmed trekker appeared in front of me. He seems tired and cold and I offer him a warm coffee. Soon we are all sharing the left-over rice from yesterday and start our ascent towards the summit.

Relieved of our bags that we hide before the climb, we get to the summit at first lights and enjoy the sunrise beauty above the Gran Canaria. The show that we attend with Anna is just magical. It is one of this moment where nothing else matter and where you lose all notions of what is going on in the world. You live the present moment to its fullest with simplicity.

We soon left the other walkers to go on the other side of the crater and enjoy the place far from the crowd. The sun keeps climbing up and we enjoy the view over La Gomera and La Palma with the reflect of the Pico del Teide over the water.

All good things must end it is now time to climb down before they open the checking point and we take an appointment with Tjark for a second breakfast at his camp on the way down. After a stop over by the toilets to get changed and clean up, we start our way down by the path number 9, but we are unable to find our friend. We go back towards the refuge with no success either. Back on our track, we finally find him 300 metres of negative elevation and are happy to share a coffee and bit of good food with him – that present a massive change from the plain pasta and rice of the last few days.

We keep going our way toward the path number 9 and stop by the Pico Viejo to admire its 720 metres of diameter crater posted at 3135 meters high that makes him the second summit of the National Park del Teide and basically Spain.

We decide then to leave the path number 9 to follow another one that is not marked on the maps to join the belvedere on the road where we hope to find a car to get back to Sourire. We are amazed by the beauty of the landscapes that we cross even though the hard paths and various falls along the way. We are crossing volcano craters, lava lands and paths full of rocks in the middle of landscapes and sceneries where our eyes are getting lost in front of such a place. Even though we are well travelled, we are contemplative in front of so much beauty and can’t help but keep a smile on our face even though we are tired.

After a last lava land crossed, we arrive on the road after 6 hours trek and start hitchhiking our way towards Sourire and the rest of the crew. We are tired after those 3 days and the 1700 metres of elevation gain in 20 kilometres, but we feel grateful to have been able to get out of the tourist path to admire this unique place that has welcomed us and introduce to the beauty of its landscapes.

Day 61, 66 drivers, 4148km, 1 sailing boat, 1050 nautical miles.

Travel the world on the cheap

 

Parc National del Teide

Avec en bonus la premiere video de ce tour du monde:

Un des Parcs Nationals les plus visité au monde avec près de 3 millions de visiteurs par an et classé depuis 2007 au Patrimoine Mondiale de l’UNESCO, il me tarde d’aller à sa rencontre.

Nous partons sur le coup de midi avec Anna, dernière venue à bord de Sourire, pour nous lancer à l’assaut du Pico del Teide et ses 3817 mètres. Mais avant cela, nous devons atteindre El Portillo, point de départ du sentier 6 du parc qui se trouve à près de 2000 mètres. Après 5 déposes nous y parvenons et faisons un ravitaillement d’eau a un restaurant. Il est évident aux yeux des propriétaires que nous partons en trek (une personne normale n’achetant pas 10 litres d’eau) et décidons de commencer notre aventure 500 mètres plus bas pour éviter les ennuies – le camping sauvage étant interdit dans le parc.

Nous nous lançons enfin sur le sentier à la recherche d’un endroit où dormir car le soleil s’apprête à se coucher et n’avons pas à chercher bien loin. Après 1 km de marche, nous trouvons une caverne à la limite de la fin de la partie boisée et établissons notre refuge dedans à 2150 mètres. Rêve de voyageur que de dormir dans une grotte et pour ne pas être déçu, nous avons une vue imprenable sur El Pico del Teide depuis notre « balcon » situé au-dessus de la grotte où nous profitons du coucher de soleil derrière le pic. La nuit, bien que froide est toute aussi belle avec son lot d’étoiles visible depuis la grotte pour nous bercer.

Nous repartons le lendemain pour nous diriger vers le sommet, et traversons les plaines magnifiques de la partie nord du parc national del Teide où se mêlent pierres volcaniques, roches et végétations dans ce paysage désolé avec comme arrière-plan le Pico del Teide qui nous attends.

A la fin du sentier 6, nous attaquons le 7 qui doit nous emmener en direction du sommet. Notre objectif est de l’atteindre demain matin car il est nécessaire d’obtenir un permis entre 9h et 18h et cela prends plus de deux mois à l’obtenir. Inutile de préciser que nous ne l’avons pas, l’objectif est donc de l’escalader avant le lever du soleil pour en admirer son essence et ensuite redescendre avant 9h. Nous avons connaissance de la Cueva del Hielo, grotte de 48 mètres de profondeur situe à 3300 mètres et comptons y passer la nuit. Malheureusement, après une ascension difficile sur les jambes, nous parvenons à la grotte, mais l’échelle d’accès n’est pas présente et nous devons trouver un refuge pour la nuit. Le refuge Atlaviste situé à 3200 mètres ne portant refuge que le nom, s’agissant bien plus d’un hôtel car ils vous refusent de passer la nuit sans réservation préalable, préférant laisser dormir les marcheurs dehors par -5C que dans la partie commune, n’est pas une option. Nous continuons donc en direction du téléphérique, en prenant soin de nous réchauffer les mains sur une source de vapeur à l’odeur prononcée venant du centre de la terre, pour y trouver refuge. Une fois arrivé, les salariés nous expliquent qu’il n’est pas possible d’y dormir et nous proposent de passer la nuit sous l’escalier a l’extérieur du bâtiment. Après 1500 mètres de dénivelé positif en 6 heure, nous sommes prêts pour une nuit froide à 3500 mètres d’altitude, qui est bien plus difficile pour Anna qui ne dort qu’une heure.

Alors que je prépare le café vers 5.30 du matin, Tjark, marcheur allemand confirmé, se présente devant moi. Je le sens fatigue et le froid se fait sentir. Je lui offre un café et bientôt nous partageons tous ensemble le riz de la veille avant de nous lancer à l’assaut du sommet.

Délesté de nos sacs que nous cachons avant de monter, nous arrivons au sommet aux premières lumières et profitons ensuite de la beauté du lever de soleil au-dessus de la Gran Canaria. Spectacle magique que nous partageons avec Anna. Il s’agit de moments où rien d’autre n’a d’importance et où vous perdez toutes notions extérieures. Vous vivez l’instant dans sa plus grande simplicité et splendeur.

Nous quittons les marcheurs pour aller de l’autre côté du cratère et profiter des lieux loin de l’attroupement. Le soleil continue de se lever et nous profitons de la vue sur La Gomera et La Palma avec le reflet du Pico del Teide sur les eaux.

Toutes les bonnes choses ont une fin et il est maintenant temps de redescendre pour éviter les contrôles et nous prenons rendez vous avec Tjark pour le déjeuner à son campement situé plus bas. Après une pause par les toilettes pour se changer et se rafraichir, nous commençons notre descente par le sentier 9, mais ne parvenons pas à le trouver. Nous faisons demi-tour en direction du refuge, sans succès. De retour sur notre sentier de descente, nous le trouvons finalement 300 mètres de dénivelé plus bas et sommes heureux de partager un peu de temps avec lui autour d’un café et d’un bon repas – qui nous change des pates et riz sans garnitures des derniers jours.

Nous continuons notre descente du sentier et nous arrêtons par le Pico Viejo pour y admirer son cratère de plus de 720 mètres de diamètres perché à 3135 mètres d’altitude qui en fait le second sommet du Parc National del Teide et plus globalement de l’Espagne.

Nous décidons ensuite de quitter le sentier 9 pour suivre un autre chemin non signalé sur les cartes du parc pour y rejoindre un belvédère sur la route où nous espérons y trouver une voiture pour redescendre. Nous sommes émerveillés par la beauté des paysages que nous traversons malgré les sentiers difficiles et les quelques chutes sur la descente. Nous traversons des cratères de volcans, des champs de lave durcies et des chemins remplies de roches au milieu de paysages à nous couper le souffle où le regard se perd à contempler ces multitudes facettes. Bien que voyageurs aguerris, nous sommes émerveillés par la beauté des lieux et ne pouvons nous empêcher d’arborer un sourire contemplatif malgré la fatigue présente.

Après un dernier champ de lave traverse, nous arrivons enfin au belvédère après 6 heure de descente et commençons le stop pour retrouver Sourire et le reste de l’équipage à bord. Nous sommes fatigués de ces trois jours et ces 1700 mètres de dénivelé en 20 kilomètres, mais nous sentons privilégiés d’être sorti des routes touristiques pour admirer cet endroit unique au monde qui nous a accueilli et présenté ses paysages et sa beauté que nous quittons avec mélancolie.

Jour 61, 66 conducteurs, 4148km, 1 voilier, 1050 miles nautiques.

Travel the world on the cheap

Morocco, Land of Hospitality

Article traduit en francais en dessous

 

Morocco, land of differences and new cultures. Looking for changes, I am enthusiastic to discover how to eat with my right hand the tagines and divers’ meals (very nice, I am a fan), but less excited to have to use my left hand for hygienic purposes (more difficult to find pleasure doing it but had to do it). This stop in Morocco is a gift and I am looking forward to meeting Moroccan people and I am not disappointed.

The hospitality does not take long to arrive, and my first Moroccan driver offer me spontaneously to stay at his place for the night. It stills very early but never mind the kilometres, I accept his invitation. Mohammed lives 20km away from Taroudant with his parents. I am welcoming with an excellent (first of many) tagine prepared by his mother. What I admire is how easy is the exchange. We communicate simply, open minded even though we come from two opposite word, opposite religions and way of life. We discover and learn from each other. I take pleasure describing my project to Mohammed and Ismael, his best friend. As a free electron, I start to realise that I am a vector of dream and hope in the minds of people I meet.

The next day, after 40 waiting, a van finally stops. They do not speak French and I do not speak Arabic but I try to make them understand that I am hitchhiking my way. When inside, I realise that it is actually a taxi. People get in and out paying the man seating in front of me. I am feeling under pressure. Will I have to pay my ride? I took out my photo album and show it to the guy and understand that he is impressed by what I do and the world “autostop” (hitchhiking) come back in their conversations. I still not quiet and fear the worst when we will arrive, and they will ask me to pay. The time finally comes and except a warm goodbye, I do not have to pay anything, which would have destroyed my dream to hitchhike the world. I am feeling relieved to avoid a conflict and realise that my photo album can get me out of troubles. The van taxi experience will happen five more times during this trip. Eleven cars later, including a lift with Aziz that invite me to his home for a tagine, I finally arrive in Ait Benhaddou.

While I was considering spending the night in my hammock in the oasis, I start chatting with Mustapha in the restaurant I was in to get the wifi. He offers me to stay at his place tonight and his boss allow him to take the night off. On the way back to his family house, he explains me that he just went out of four years in jail, and I discover that he has taken the life of a man. I am surprised even though it is not the first time I meet someone like this, it is not very reassuring. He then explains me that he has been attacked and defended himself. He considers himself lucky as in Morocco, the sentences are usually ten years in those situations. I have some difficulties to believe that a man as kind and generous as him could take away someone’s life.

We spend the evening with his friends in one of the shop that is approximatively twenty square meters. We are four, then seven and finally ten to be there. Here I discover the Berber culture and feel witched by the sound of the guitar joined by the various songs and associate with the smell of the tagine that is slowly cooking in the corner of the room and the hashish parfum that is floating around us. After this musical experience, the tagine is set in the middle and ten hands go for it to eat each pieces of the dish. I am conquered by the conviviality, sharing and solidarity spirit of this part of the world.

The next day, after saying goodbye to Mustapha’s parents, I go to visit the Kasbah. I feel grateful seeing my host waiting in front of their door to say goodbye. I have been welcomed with simplicity and love even though I am a total stranger for this family. We have a lot to learn from this culture and I hope that one day, Europe will do the same for each traveller that come by. I am happy, and the excitation of the trip is there.

I visit this old Kasbah where tourists are mixed with various guides and merchants. I understand that I am in an UNESCO site. The city is charming, and I take pleasure to lose myself in those small streets made with red soil where formerly caravans made stop.

When done, I come back to spend a bit of time with Mustapha before going to meet with Mohammed, a local guide that I made the day before. He gave me all the indications to find nomads in the Atlas mountains, and especially in the Georges de Dades. I took my decision and will go there tomorrow, but in the meantime I accept the invitation of my new friends to stay and enjoy another  night in this wonderland.

Arrived in the valley, I go and meet the nomads, and then go down the mountain with Mohammed. I accept his invitation for the night and we walk towards the village together. On the way, we stop in a construction building to take a tea with the workers and getting warmer around the fire. The forecast for the night is not good and the snow should soon appears.

When arrived at Mohammed’s, I have to wait in the living room for more than an hour and I am invited to leave the house. The reason is quite simple, his wife is located next door and giving birth. I heard for more than an hour the cries of pain and feel useless. Aziz, Mohammed’s friend, will finally be my host for the night and I can finally rest. The next day, I see Mohammed and receive the good new that it is a wee girl and his wife is okay.

I go back on the road to go to Merzouga and meet Gerald to go to the desert. On my way, as I was stocked on a small road, I take the time to discuss with locals and show them some pictures. Without noticing it, they have stopped a motorcycle and found me my next lift with Slimane that have the kindness to invite me on the way to his family for a berber whiskey. However, the day is not enough to get to destination and I decide to spend the night in a palm grove, 30km from my destination, despite the different hospitality offers I received.

When finally arrived, I meet with Gerald and we go towards the dunes to attempt to meet the nomads that are located on the other side. Deception. Those nomads are what the day is for the night and are basically a tourist trap where the exchange is bought with dirhams. It doesn’t matter, the area is beautiful and we decide to walk towards the Algerian border located 20km from where we are. But when the sun is going down, we still 5km away from it and decide to turn back to go and sleep in a bivouac we saw in the morning and that is closed for the season with the intention to get inside and sleep there. However, oriented yourself by night in the desert is not something easy and it takes us more than two hours alongside the dunes to find back the tourist bivouac where we hope to find our way to our promised beds.

While we are looking for our way, a car is getting closer. This is Mustapha and his friends that oversee the next bivouac. They have seen the light and came to us to offer us hospitality for the night for our greatest pleasure after more than 12 hours trek. We spend the night we them and fall tired in our warm covers, happy to avoid the cold outside that rhythms the nights in the desert.

The next day, we are helping our hosts to set up the camp for the tourists that are supposed to arrive today and go back our way to the city. I start my way back towards Agadir and break my hitchhiking record for one day with… 94 kilometres done. A weak ratio but that can be explained by Laid and the low traffic, to not say no traffic that day. Thankfully, tomorrow is another day and I manage to do the 650 kilometres left, thanks to Malek and Lou that gave me a 500km lift in their truck.  I witness the Moroccan corruption on the way with the Police and get back to Agadir on time before the departure planned 12 hours afterwards to get to Las Palmas in the Canaries.

I am convinced of one thing, I will never forget the Moroccan hospitality and especially the Berbers, and I am more than ever dreaming of a world where despite our differences, we trust each other’s with the same easiness that I have experienced in those landscapes that are as pretty as the warm of Moroccan hearts.

Day 47, 58 drivers, 4028km, 1 sailing boat, 600 nautical miles.

“Travel the world on the cheap”

 

Maroc, terre d’accueil

Maroc, terre de différences et de nouvelles cultures. En recherche de dépaysement, je suis enthousiaste de devoir manger avec la main droite les tagines aux saveurs esquisses (très conviviale, j’adore), mais moins à me servir de la main gauche pour l’hygiène (plus difficile à prendre plaisir, mais passage oblige). Cette escale au Maroc est une aubaine et il me tâte d’aller rencontrer le peuple marocain et je ne suis pas déçu.

L’accueil ne se fait pas attendre et mon premier chauffeur marocain me propose spontanément l’hébergement. Il est encore très tôt mais tant pis pour les kilomètres, j’accepte avec plaisir son invitation. Mohammed vit à une vingtaine de kilomètres de Taroudant avec ses parents. Je suis reçu chez lui avec un excellent tagine préparé par sa mère. Ce que j’admire, c’est la simplicité de l’échange. Nous communiquons simplement et avec ouverture bien que nous soyons issues de deux mondes différents, deux religions différentes, deux modes de vie différents, nous apprenons et découvrons l’un de l’autre. Je prends plaisir à d’écrire mon projet à Mohammed et Ismael, son meilleur ami. Comme électron libre, je commence à comprendre que je suis un vecteur de rêve et d’espoir dans l’imaginaire des personnes rencontrées.

Le lendemain, après 40 minutes d’attentes, un van s’arrête. Ils ne parlent pas français et je ne parle pas arabe mais j’essaie de leur faire comprendre que je fais du stop. Une fois a l’intérieur, je réalise qu’il s’agit en vérité d’un taxi. Les gens y montent et descendent en payant l’homme assis devant moi. La pression monte. Vais-je devoir payer ma course ? Je sors mon album photo et le montre a cet homme et comprends vite qu’ils sont impressionne par mon projet et j’entends le mot autostop revenir régulièrement dans leurs conversations. Je ne reste cependant pas tranquille et redoute le moment de l’arrivée ou ils vont me demander de payer. Le moment arrive enfin et mise a part des aux revoir chaleureux, je ne dois pas mettre la main a la poche ce qui aurait anéanti mon rêve de tour du monde en stop. Soulagement d’éviter un conflit et réalisation que mon album photos peut me sortir de problèmes. L’expérience du van taxi stop au Maroc se déroulera cinq fois de plus dans ce voyage. 11 voitures plus loin, incluant un lift avec Aziz qui m’invite chez lui pour le tagine, j’arrive à Ait Benhaddou.

Alors que je planifiais de dormir dans mon hamac dans l’oasis, j’entame une conversation avec Mustapha dans le restaurant ou je m’étais refugie pour récupérer le wifi. Il me propose l’hébergement pour la nuit et son patron lui donne sa soirée. Sur le chemin de la maison de sa famille, il m’explique qu’il vient de sortir de quatre années de prison, et pour cause, il s’avère qu’il a enlevé la vie d’un homme. J’ai le sang glace et bien que ce ne soit pas la première fois que je rencontre quelqu’un comme ca, cela n’est jamais tres rassurant. Il m’explique ensuite avoir été agresse et avoir eu recours a la légitime défense. Il s’estime chanceux car au Maroc, les peines peuvent monter jusqu’à dix années dans ce genre de situation. J’ai peine a croire qu’un homme aussi doux et généreux ait pu tuer un semblable.

Nous passons la soirée avec ses amis dans une des boutiques du bazar qui doit faire vingt mètre carre. Nous sommes 4, puis 7 et enfin 10 à se trouver là. Ici je découvre la culture berbère et je me sens envoute par le son de la guitare et des percussions joint aux différents chants se mêlant aux odeurs de tagine qui se prépare doucement dans le coin de la pièce et les parfums de hachich qui envoutent les lieux. Apres cette période de communion musicale, le tagine est servit et dix mains se jettent dessus pour en savourer chaque morceau. Je suis conquis par l’esprit de convivialité, de partage et solidarité de cette partie du monde.

Le lendemain, je prends congé des parents de Mustapha pour aller visiter la Kasbah et m’en vais le cœur léger en apercevant mes hôtes me saluer sur le coin de la porte. J’ai été reçu avec beaucoup de simplicité et d’amour bien que je sois un total étranger. Nous avons tant à apprendre de leur culture et j’espère qu’un jour l’Europe en fera de même pour les voyageurs de passages. Je suis heureux, l’ivresse du voyage est bel et bien là.

Je visite cette vieille Kasbah ou touriste se mêlent aux différents guides et marchands et comprends que je suis bel et bien dans un site du Patrimoine Mondial de l’UNESCO. La cite est charmante et je prends plaisir à déambuler dans ces petites ruelles de terre rouge ou autrefois les caravanes y faisait escale.

Une fois la visite terminée, je retourne passer un peu de temps avec Mustapha avant de rejoindre Mohammed (guide local et ami) qui me donne toutes les indications pour trouver des nomades dans l’Atlas, et plus précisément dans les Georges de Dades. La décision est prise et je m’y rendrais demain, en attendant, j’accepte leur invitation à rester et repasse une nuit enchantée dans ce lieu si magique.

Arrive dans les gorges, je m’en vais rencontrer les nomades (voir article ci-joint), puis redescend de la montagne en compagnie de Mohammed. J’accepte son invitation pour la nuit et nous marchons en direction du village. En chemin, nous nous arrêtons dans un bâtiment en construction pour y prendre le the avec les travailleurs et se réchauffer autour d’un feu. Les prévisions pour la nuit ne sont pas bonnes et la neige est annoncée.

Une fois arrive chez Mohammed, je patiente dans le salon pendant plus d’une heure et dois ensuite partir et pour cause, sa femme est en train de donner la vie dans la pièce voisine et j’entends impuissant les pleurs et les douleurs. Je suis finalement accueilli chez Aziz, ami de Mohammed, où je peux me reposer avant de discuter avec Mohammed le jour suivant et d’apprendre qu’il s’agit d’une petite fille et que sa femme se porte bien.

Le lendemain, je reprends la route vers Merzouga pour y rejoindre Gerald et nous lancer a l’assaut des dunes. Sur le chemin, alors que je me trouve coince sur une petite route, je discute avec deux locaux et prends le temps de leur montrer les photos. Sans m’en apercevoir, ils ont arrêté une mobylette et m’ont trouvé ma prochaine dépose avec Slimane qui a la gentillesse de m’inviter en route chez sa tente pour y déguster une pizza et un whiskey berbère. Cependant, la journée de stop ne suffit pas et je me retrouve coincé à 30 kilomètres de Merzouga et décide de passer la nuit dans la palmeraie malgré les propositions d’hébergements reçues.

Une fois sur place et Gerald retrouvé, nous nous lançons dans les dunes afin d’y rencontrer les nomades vivant de l’autre cote. Déception. Ces nomades sont ce que le jour est à la nuit et il s’agit bien plus d’une attraction touristique ou les échanges se monnaient à coup de dirhams. Qu’importe, la région est belle et nous décidons d’avancer en direction de la frontière algérienne a 20km de là. Alors que la nuit tombe, il nous reste encore 5km et décidons de faire demi tour pour aller dormir dans un bivouac que nous avions vu le matin et qui est fermé en cette saison où nous comptons bien y passer la nuit. Cependant, se diriger dans le désert de nuit ne s’avère pas être une mince affaire et il nous a fallu plus de deux heures à longer les dunes pour enfin retrouver le bivouac de touristes où nous espérons retrouver notre trace vers notre lit promis.

Alors que nous cherchons notre chemin, une voiture s’approche dans la nuit. Il s’agit de Mustapha et de ses amis qui tiennent le bivouac voisin. Ayant vu la frontale, ils sont venus à notre rencontre pour nous proposer l’hébergement pour notre plus grand plaisir après plus de douze heures de marche synonyme de muscles meurtries. Nous passons la soirée avec eux et nous écroulons de fatigue dans des couvertures bien chaudes, heureux d’éviter le froid glaciale des dunes qui rythment les nuits du désert.

Le lendemain, nous aidons nos hôtes à préparer le camp pour la venue des clients puis nous repartons en direction de la ville. Je me remets en route vers Agadir et bat mon record de kilomètres en une journée de stop avec… 94 kilomètres parcourus. Un bien faible ratio mais qui s’explique par la  fête de Laid et le peu de trafic, pour ne pas dire inexistant sur les routes. Heureusement, les jours se suivent mais ne se ressemblent pas et je parvins à faire les 650 kilomètres restant le lendemain, en grande partie grâce à Malek et Lou avec leur camion à bord duquel j’assiste impuissant a une scène de corruption avec la police et rejoins Agadir à temps avant le départ prévu 12 heures plus tard pour Las Palmas et les Canaries.

Une chose est certaine, je ne pourrai oublier l’accueil marocain et spécialement les berbères et je rêve d’un monde où malgré les différences apparentes, nous nous faisons confiance avec la même facilité que j’ai pu expérimenter dans ces contrées aussi belles que la chaleur de ses habitants.

Jour 47, 58 chauffeurs, 4028km, 1 voilier, 600 miles nautiques.

“Travel the world on the cheap”

Meeting with the Berber nomads

Article traduit en francais en dessous.

Looking for meeting and discovering people from all around the world in this travel, I have in mind to focus especially on the ones that got a way of living that is different from ours. This is why I decide to go to the Georges de Dades following the advice of my new friends from Ait Benhaddou, hoping to find and meet nomads living in the area.

I start to climb up the path in the mountain following the instructions of Mohammed, chief of the next village and that grew up as a nomad as well. After 45 min walking, I can see two kids making signs for my attention. I decide to go and meet them but when I arrive, we do not speak the same language and I try to communicate via the photo album. However, when I try to speak some Berber, they left. This is when I see their mother on the other side of valley and I go back on my way to meet her.

She welcomes me with a massive smile and her body language is very communicative and easy going. Tulda invites me to go with her to their cave to share a tea, and I accept with great pleasure. Soon, the kids join us, and I offer the bread and couscous I have in my bag, happy to be able to give back.

Fatima and Mohamed start to become more confident around me and play with the photo album. I give them one picture each, but soon they start to take more. They will play with them the whole time I will spend with them.

Mohammed, the chief of the village in the valley join us, and I feel grateful to be where I am and sharing time with this nomad family. These people move according to the seasons and settle in caves like the one I visited.

I am absolutely impressed by Fatima, little one of just four years old that has already a sense of responsibilities that I have never saw in a kid of her age. Her mother is now away in the mountain, and she goes and bring back a donkey that went away. Get ready and serve the teas without forgetting to clean everything afterwards. She stays smiling, curious, playful and alert the whole time and probably do not realise how much she impresses me with her four years spent on earth. I cannot help myself but think of the Europeans kids who are spoiled with presents and technologies when those two little ones play with the pictures as it was the most brilliant gift in the world. They are so spoiled and lobotomised under material things and they are far from being so full of life and responsible as Fatima.

This family does not own, but they share. The kids are alert and extremely curious. They do not have debts, are in good health and have a sense of sharing and an easy way to welcome foreigners that is simply impressive. We certainly have a lot to learn from them.

Those few hours spent with Tulda, Fatima and Mohammed are a privilege that got me very grateful, even if the language was a barrier. I have the feeling to share an authentic moment despite our differences and feel close to them, being somehow a nomad myself.

 

Rencontre avec les nomades berbères.

En recherche de rencontres et de découvertes lors de ce voyage, je me suis mis en tête de rencontrer toute sorte de peuple dont le mode de vie diffère du notre. C’est pourquoi, je décide de me rendre dans les Gorges de Dades suivant les instructions de mes amis de Ait Benhaddou pour espérer passer du temps avec les nomades de la région.

Je commence à monter le sentier après avoir pris les informations auprès de Mohammed, chef du village voisin et ancien nomade lui aussi. Après 45 minutes de marche, j’aperçois aux loin deux enfants qui me font signe. Je décide de monter à leurs rencontres. Nous ne parlons pas la même langue et j’essaie de communiquer avec eux via l’album photo. Cependant, lorsque j’essaie de leur parler, les deux bouts de choux se sauvent. C’est à ce moment-là que j’aperçois leur maman sur l’autre versant et m’en vais à sa rencontre.

Accueilli avec un grand sourire et une bonne humeur distincte, Tulda m’invite à me diriger vers la grotte afin d’y partager le thé. Je la suis avec plaisir et les enfants ne tardent pas à nous rejoindre. J’en profite pour donner le pain et le couscous que j’ai dans le sac et je suis tout heureux de pouvoir leur donner en retour.

Fatima et Mohammed prennent confiance et commencent à jouer avec l’album photo. Je leur en donne une chacun, mais bientôt ils se servent et en prennent plusieurs. Ils s’amuseront avec et ne les quitteront pas pendant les heures que je passe avec eux.

Mohammed, chef du village nous a rejoint et je me sens privilégié d’être dans ces lieux aux cotes de cette famille nomade. Il s’agit d’un peuple qui se déplace en fonction des saisons et qui prennent logement dans des cavernes a l’image de celle que j’ai visite.

Je suis impressionne par Fatima, petit bout de choux de quatre ans qui a déjà un sens des responsabilités que je n’avais jamais observé chez un enfant de son âge. Sa mère repartie, elle s’en va chercher et ramener un âne qui s’est éloigné du troupeau. Prépare et sert le the sans oublier de faire la vaisselle ensuite. Elle reste souriante, curieuse, joueuse et alerte en permanence et ne réalise certainement pas à quel point elle m’impressionne du haut de ses quatre années passées sur cette terre. Je ne peux m’empêcher de penser aux enfants européens qui croulent à son âge sous les cadeaux et la technologie alors que pour elle et son frère, quelques photos représentent la lune. Ces enfants qui sont lobotomisés sous les biens matériaux et qui sont bien incapable de réfléchir ou agir comme Fatima.

Cette famille ne possède pas, mais elle partage. Les enfants sont alertes et extrêmement curieux. Ils n’ont pas de dette, sont en bonne santé et ont un sens du partage et de l’accueil tout bonnement impressionnant. Nous avons certainement beaucoup à apprendre de ce peuple pourtant si différent.

Ces quelques heures passées avec Tulda, Fatima et Mohammed sont un privilège et me remplis de bonheur, bien que la barrière de la langue soit présente. J’ai le sentiment de partager un moment authentique malgré nos différences, et me sens proche d’eux, étant quelque part nomade moi aussi.

A boat that brings you to Dream’s land

Article traduit en francais plus bas

Second of November, we finally set sails towards the Canaries, and after eight days waiting, the joy to get back at sea and to leave the continental Europe to carry on my dream is as important as the tears that I leave behind following people I have met. The contrast is present in me.

The strait of Gibraltar turns to not be an easy task, facing the tide. We start watches of 3 hours to be able to get more rest and the crossing is finally quiet and we just have to watch out the cargo ships while crossing their paths where you feel pleased when their lights turn from red to green, meaning that you were on their starboard and you are now on their portboard. It basically means that you have been quick enough and are now safe without any risks to get under those massive floating cities.

The rest is only contemplation between the sea and the sun dancing during the days and that leave space for the stars to give you company while you are doing your night watches. This is our television, our distraction, and we are happy the way it is.

Life onboard is taking form between the watches, cooking and eating and any other task such as cleaning the dishes. We are setting up as a team and the sea life is taking me. Feeling of happiness and kindness that is washed away by the strong and cold wind coming from the North that come straight to my face while I am contemplating the sunset alone on the deck. But as often, the reality of the moment is not the reality of the next day and we are being a bit challenged during the night to keep going. We finally decide, on the request of Constance (the other boat with whom we travel), to stop in Morocco for them to rest.

Morocco, fourth country of this world tour, and also first stamp in my passport. We stopped in Safi, small fishing town between Casablanca and Agadir and discovered the true Morocco. Here there are no tourist, no marina. Our boat is attached to a fishing one in the port and we have now two days to enjoy the beauty of this city with its Medina, and other marks left by the successive occupation Portugal, Spain and France). People are resourceful, and going on a motorcycle with 3 containers of 20 liters of gasoil, including one on each of my legs and one between my driver’s legs, is never a problem.

My favorite hobby is to look at the fisherman and their boat. They do not know pressure and I am amazed to see the boats leaving the port with 45 people on it. Their kindness and eager to exchange is a pleasure for the traveler and you end up going with them to take a bit of their delicious tea that seems to make life easier around here.

We finally leave Safi after 48 hours over there and set cap towards Agadir, as the window is closed to get to the Canaries. Our distraction continues and we have the luxury to enjoy a night with a clear sky. Imagine this, you are alone on the deck, you have phosphorescent plankton under your feet and flying stars above yours eyes. What a gift!

After less than 48 hours, we finally arrive in Agadir where we will wait for an opportunity to get to the Canaries

Day 28, 24 drivers, 2439 km, 1 boat, 600 nautical miles.

“Travel the world on the cheap”

Un bateau qui mène au pays des rêves

2 Novembre, nous hissons finalement les voiles pour faire route en direction des Canaries, après avoir attendu huit jours sur le rocher. La joie et l’excitation de reprendre la mer et de quitter le continent européen pour poursuivre mon rêve est aussi important que les larmes que je laisse derrière moi suite aux rencontres faites sur ce morceaux de roche. Le contraste est bel et bien présent.

Le Detroit de Gibraltar s’avère ne pas être si facile, faisant face aux courants. Nous mettons en place des quarts de trois heures pour faciliter le temps de récupération de chacun et la traversée se fait finalement sans encombre et nous devons simplement faire attention aux cargos qui empruntent le couloir à qui nous devons couper le chemin pour se rapprocher du Maroc. Le sentiment de soulagement est lui bel et bien présent lorsque le feu de position rouge laisse place au vert, signifiant que nous étions a leurs bâbords et que nous venons de passer a leurs tribords. En d’autres termes, nous avons été assez rapides et sommes maintenant en sécurité sans courir le risque de se retrouver sur le cap de ces énormes villes flottantes.

Le reste n’est que contemplation entre la mer et la danse du soleil durant la journée, et qui laisse ensuite place aux étoiles qui vous tiennent compagnie lors de vos quarts de nuit. Ceci est notre télévision, notre divertissement, et nous en sommes heureux ainsi.

La vie à bord prend forme entre les quarts, les manœuvres, la cuisine et les autres taches telles que la vaisselle. Nous nous développons comme une équipe et la vie en mer est en train de me prendre. Le sentiment de bonheur et de tendresse contraste avec le vent fort et froid venu du nord qui vient me caresser le visage alors que je contemple seul le coucher du soleil dans le cockpit. Mais comme bien souvent, la réalité du moment n’est pas la réalité du lendemain et nous sommes ballottés durant la nuit pour continuer à avancer. Nous décidons finalement, suite a la demande de Constance – voilier voisin avec qui nous faisons route depuis Gibraltar, de faire escale au Maroc afin de s’y reposer.

Le Maroc, quatrième pays de ce tour du monde, et également premier tampon sur mon passeport. Nous faisons escale à Safi, petite ville de pêche à mi chemin entre Casablanca et Agadir et avons la chance de découvrir le vrai Maroc. Ici, il n’y a pas de touristes, pas de marina. Sourire est amarré a un autre bateau de pêche et nous avons maintenant un peu moins de 48 heures pour profiter de la beauté de cette ville avec sa Medina, et autres vestiges laisses successivement par les Portugais, Espagnols et Français. La population est pleine de ressource, et se réapprovisionner en gasoil a l’aide d’une mobylette avec trois bidons de 20 litres de gasoil, incluant un pose sur ma jambe droite, un sur ma jambe gauche et le troisième entre les jambes de mon pilote, ne semble pas être un problème.

Mon passe-temps favori se résume à regarder les pécheurs rentrer et sortir du port. Ils ne connaissent pas la pression et je suis impressionne de les voir quitter le port en étant près de 45 sur leur rafiot. Leur gentillesse et leur faim d’échange est un plaisir pour le voyageur et vous vous retrouvez bien souvent invite à prendre un peu de leur délicieux the qui semble rendre la vie bien plus facile dans ces contrées.

Nous quittons finalement Safi et prenons la direction d’Agadir, car la fenêtre pour les Canaries s’est maintenant refermée. Notre divertissement continu et nous avons le privilège de profiter d’une nuit claire, sans nuage à l’horizon. Imaginez ceci : vous êtes seul dans le cockpit, vous avez du plancton fluorescent sous vos pieds et une pluie d’étoiles filantes au dessus de votre tête. Quel cadeau !

Apres moins de 48 heures, nous arrivons finalement à Agadir ou nous attendrons qu’une fenêtre s’ouvre pour rallier les Canaries.

Jour 28, 24 conducteurs, 2439 km, 1 voilier, 600 miles nautiques.

“Travel the world on the cheap”

The Promised Sea

Article traduit en francais plus bas.

One morning.. This is the time it took me to find a boat. As I started to look for one, a captain told me about a website called “la bourse aux equipiers”, and I decided to have a look at it. There, I found an add from Bernard. He is currently based in Aguilas and will set route towards the Canaries islands in a week. After half an hour conversation on the phone, he offered me a position on his sailing boat.. The dream begins!

I start my journey down towards the south of Spain, via a stop in Toulouse to see my old Scottish flatmate. I have met some great driver towards my way and I finally cross the Spanish boarder with Vicente, friendly lorry driver that dropped me close to Barcelona. We had a coffee at the service station and sitting at the table next to us, I met Alexia, young lady with who I felt a connection instantaneously. We go together to Castellon where she dropped me at a petrol station. It was 10pm and I decided to stop there for the night and found finally refuge in a farm. After the first doubts, the couple accepted my request to sleep in the grange and avoid the rain. What a nice feeling to wake up in this place when raining all over the place! After a nice breakfast and a shower, the worries are gone and I am part of the family.

I kept going, and had the privilege to meet Vicente again. It took me out of the service station I was in where everyone was going the opposite way. What a feeling to see him again! After 4 days traveling, I finally got to Aguilas where I meet Bernard alias “Snoupy”. What a man, he has sailed around the world, is a pilote, used to bike and more. What a pleasure to learn from this man that is eager to share his knowledge with me and Gerald, the other crew member that dream to cross the Atlantic as well. They will become my family for a month and Sourire (name of the sailing boat) will become my home as well as my first boat on this trip.

After two days of preparation, we set cap towards Gibraltar that we reach in 53 hours after 220 nautical miles. The journey went well and we had some good winds despite what the Mediterranean Sea usually offers.

What a feeling to be at sea. Imagine that time stops and that you are free. Free to contemplate life. Free to have no pressure and enjoy your time with the dolphins. Free to appreciate each moment, sunset, sunrise and the beauty of the moon. Free to witness the strength of the elements and fly over the sea with the wind for only help. Free to be alone taking your watch with no other boat around you. Those are feelings that need to be experienced at least one in your life, but then one time is not enough anymore.

You are free to live!

We finally arrived in Gibraltar where we will have to wait for the depression to disappear in the Atlantic to keep going towards the Canaries. Probably around 10 days. Never mind, life is treating us good and we have Andalusia next to us.

Day 13, 24 drivers, 2439km, 1 boat, 220 nautical miles.

“Travel the world on the cheap”

La Mer Promise

Une matinée.. C’est le temps qu’il m’a fallu pour trouver un bateau. Alors que je commençais ma recherche, un capitaine m’a parlé du site « la bourse aux équipiers », et j’ai décidais d’étaler ma recherche. Je suis finalement tombé sur l’annonce de Bernard qui se trouve à Aguilas et qui va se rendre aux Canaries d’ici une semaine. Après une demi-heure de conversation au téléphone, il me donne rendez vous dans le sud de l’Espagne pour naviguer avec lui.

Je commence mon voyage en direction du sud de l’Espagne, avec une halte à Toulouse pour y rencontrer mon ancien colocataire Ecossais. J’ai eu la chance de rencontrer une multitude de conducteurs géniaux sur mon chemin et j’ai finalement passé la frontière espagnole avec Vicente, chauffeur routier jovial qui me déposa près de Barcelone. Nous avons pris un café à la station et à la table adjacente, je rencontre Alicia, avec qui je ressens une connexion instantanée. Elle me propose de m’emmener et me dépose près de Castellón dans une autre station service. Il était déjà plus de 22 heures et je décide de passer la nuit ici et trouve finalement refuge dans une ferme. Après les premiers doutes des propriétaires, ils acceptent finalement ma demande de dormir dans la grange et d’ainsi éviter la pluie. Quel sentiment de se réveiller dans cet endroit alors que la pluie s’abat tout autour de moi. Après un petit déjeuner et une douche, les peurs se sont envolées et je fais désormais parti de la famille.

Je continue mon chemin, et j’ai le privilège de retrouver Vicente à nouveau. Il me sort de la station où j’étais bloqué depuis plusieurs heures, car tout le monde se rendait au nord. Quel plaisir de le retrouver, lui et son sourire!

Après 4 jours de voyage, je parviens finalement à Aguilas où je rencontre Bernard alias « Snoupy ». Quel homme, il a navigué la plupart des mers du monde, est également un pilote et faisait de la moto par le passé et bien plus encore. Quel plaisir d’apprendre d’un homme avec son expérience et qui plus est, est heureux de partager son savoir avec moi et Gerald, l’autre équipier qui rêve également de traverser l’Atlantique et d’envies d’ailleurs. Ils deviendront ma famille et Sourire ma maison pour les semaines à venir.

Après deux jours de préparation, nous mettons finalement le cap vers Gibraltar que nous rallions après 53 heures de navigation et 220 miles nautiques. Le voyage s’est passé sans encombre et nous avons eu de bon vents malgré la réputation opposée de la Méditerranée.

Quel sentiment d’être en mer. Imaginez que le temps s’arrête et que vous êtes libre. Libre de contempler la vie. Libre de ne pas avoir de pression et de partager votre temps avec les dauphins. Libre d’apprécier chaque moment, du lever du soleil à son coucher en passant par la beauté singulière de la lune. Libre d’être témoin de la puissance des éléments et de voler au-dessus des eaux avec pour seule aide la force du vent. Libre d’être seul lors des quarts sans aucun autre forme de civilisation autour de vous – ci ce n’est pour vos compagnons de voyage qui dorment en dessous. Voici les sentiments qui devraient être vécus au moins une fois dans sa vie, pour ensuite se rendre compte qu’une fois n’est pas suffisant.

Vous êtes libre de vivre !

Nous arrivons finalement à Gibraltar où nous allons devoir patienter une dizaine de jours afin d’éviter la dépression qui frappe l’Atlantique avant de finalement pouvoir rejoindre les Canaries. Nous en avons probablement pour une dizaine de jours. Peu importe, la vie s’occupe bien de nous et nous avons l’Andalousie à portée de main.

Jour 13, 24 conducteurs, 2439 kilometres, 1 voilier et 220 miles nautiques.

“Travel the world on the cheap”

On the road, beginning of a dream

Article traduit en francais plus bas.

Metz on the 12th of October 2018, this is it. The day has finally come to hit the road! As a symbol, I realise that six years ago, on the exact same day, I was on my way to Scotland, leaving France to live abroad for the first time. I remember myself being terrified on that day to take a plane and set up myself to a country I did not know anything about. However, today, six years after, I feel fine with my choice of going to travel the world without a set plan.

The weeks before the beginning of this dream, I had however feared the start of my travel: will I be able to do it? Will I be successful on finding a boat to cross the Atlantic? Can I manage to last that long without knowing where to sleep? Am I not too old already to do it? Those where the questions popping into my mind.

However, I knew those moments will come before my trip, I just did not know when. At that moment, I have honestly isolate myself to deal with it and not run away from those doubts. I was welcoming my fears and sit with them as you will discuss with a friend around a pint.

Is it not true that when close to achieve a dream, any Human Being will try to find a way to turn back?

The day has finally come, and after spending the week teaching, saying goodbye to family and friends, I make a final stop on the morning of the departure to the local journal for a final interview. Then come the moment of the first ride towards Paris with my first driver Youssef. Following up by two others that bring me to Nantes where I spend the weekend surfing and enjoying time with a friend.

As everyone set on a regular life based around work knows, the weekend finally has to end and I am setting off towards La Rochelle, where I am hoping to find my first boat of the trip to bring me closer to the Canaries Islands.

Already 880km done on this trip with 8 drivers when I reach the impressive marina of La Rochelle. Now another challenge is waiting for me.. Finding my first boat.

Let’s the game begin!

 

“Travel the world on the cheap” Day 4, 880km, 8 drivers.

 

Sur la route, debut d’un rêve

Metz, 12 octobre 2018, ça y est. Le jour est finalement arrivé de se lancer sur la route! Comme un symbole, je réalise que six ans plus tôt, jour pour jour, je m’envolais pour l’Ecosse, quittant pour la première fois ma terre natale pour vivre à l’étranger. Je me souviens que j’étais terrifié de prendre l’avion et d’aller m’installer dans ce pays dont je ne connaissais rien. Cependant, aujourd’hui, six ans plus tard, je me sens en adéquation avec mon choix de voyager le monde sans avoir de plans.

Les semaines précédant le commencement de ce rêve, j’ai cependant ressenti les peurs me submerger: vais-je être capable de le faire? Vais-je trouver un bateau pour traverser l’Atlantique? Puis-je tenir aussi longtemps sans savoir où dormir? Ne suis-je pas déjà trop vieux pour faire ça? Voici le genre de questions qui me hantent l’esprit.

Cependant, je savais que ces moments allaient me frapper avant le départ, je ne savais simplement pas quand. A ce moment je me suis isolé de façon à pouvoir me recentrer sur ces peurs et ne pas les fuir. J’ai accueilli mes peurs et je me suis assis avec elles comme vous le feriez avec un ami autour d’un verre.

N’est-il pas vrai que si proche d’atteindre un rêve, l’Homme se met des obstacles pour ne pas y parvenir?

Le jour est finalement arrivé, et après avoir passé la semaine à donner les derniers cours, dire au revoir à ma famille et mes amis – le cœur gros, je fais finalement un dernier arrêt le matin du départ pour donner une interview au journal local. Vient ensuite le moment de la première dépose vers Paris avec Youssef. S’ensuivent deux autres chauffeurs qui m’amènent à Nantes ou je passe le weekend à surfer et profiter de mon temps avec une amie.

Comme tout le monde vivant une vie basée autour du travail le sait, le weekend prend finalement fin et je me remets en route vers La Rochelle, ou j’espère trouver mon premier bateau du voyage pour m’amener un peu plus proche des Iles Canaries.

Déjà 836 km parcouru dans ce voyage avec l’aide de 8 chauffeurs quand j’arrive devant l’impressionnante marina de La Rochelle. Maintenant un autre challenge m’attend.. Trouver mon premier bateau.

Que le jeu commence!

“Travel the world on the cheap” Jour 4, 880km, 8 chauffeurs.

Objective Croatia

It all started with a meeting. On my way back from Edinburgh, I met Celine, a friendly Belgian woman, on the ferry from Dover to Calais. After chatting a little, we discovered that we both wanted to hitch towards Belgium and decided to make the trip together.

After this brief adventure, I offered her the opportunity to join me on my next trip to Bratislava and we decided to leave the following week.

While I was waiting for her to arrive in Metz, I had been invited by Guillaume and Arkan to eat some fruit and have a beer in front of their shop. I didn’t know it, but this was the premise of our trip. After Celine joined me, we spent a bit more time sharing their company.

During that evening, we decided to change our plans and finally head to Croatia to do some kayaking on a river and so the next morning we set off towards Germany.

After a good start to the day, we headed via Switzerland and not Austria, we arrived just before the Swiss border and, wishing to avoid Basel, we made a sign saying Italy but we were convinced that we would be stuck there for hours. Somehow, the first car exiting the station was Italian and after a brief chat with the occupants, Ciara and Lucia, we decided to join them in Basel and keep going the next day towards Italy and Venezia. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were at that moment.

After an interesting lift to Venezia with Lucia and Chiara, we struggled to hitch a lift at the next station and by the end of the day we had only managed to reach Triestre.

After relaxing at the sea and enjoying the sunset at the beach, we were heading towards an old wagon we saw on the way in a disaffected port area.. An old traveller dream came true and the use of the hammocks appeared to be very handy and comfy at this stage 😊

40082725_1784664294919940_3400391656250277888_nAfter a quick shower at the marina (fellow traveller, this is a good trick, all marinas have showers and are usually easy to access 😉 ), we set off on the road towards Slovenia which would be our last step before Croatia. After finding our lift and struggling to leave Rijeka by walking a few kilometers to get to the toll booth – even though it is illegal to hitch on motorways in Croatia, it is tolerated, we finally set our sign and found a truck driver within a few minutes that picked us up. We didn’t speak the same language but we finally understood each other and our driver dropped us by the exit of our motorway where we disappeared into the bush.

We kept going through the small roads but got stuck 20km away from our destination and camped in our hammock by the village of Ostarije. Unfortunately, we discovered that even if the days were very warm in this part of Croatia, they were also very cold at night and I suffered it. Getting a short night’s  sleep and waking up very early totally freezing I headed up towards the coffee place of the village where I found comfort in the waitress Dora’s smile and a nice cup of coffee.

After struggling to get to Primislje as there was not much traffic heading in that direction, we asked our driver to stop up when we saw the first sign. I could not have been happier that we stopped there as we were basically stopping at Dusan’s house.

After arranging with the kayak company to pick us up there, Dusan showed up and as soon as he got out of the car, you could feel happiness and kindness emanating from this man. Soon after Dario arrived and we discovered that he would be our guide and Dusan our driver. As soon as we headed to the kayaking place, and Dario and Dusan realised we came all the way hitchhiking, the vibes around our meeting were relaxed and as friendly as a family.

Now, I cannot recommend Terraktiv enough as those men are brilliant. On the trip on the river, where there was only the two of us and Dario. We had a fabulous time around the canyon and waterfall and enjoying the knowledge of our guide about the area and also Croatian history.

After our trip on the river done, we met Dusan again at the arrival. He offered to let us stay at his place and we kindly accepted the opportunity to spend more time with him and Dario.

We learned so much from Dusan, who was full of knowledge regarding the plants and their use and had a fabulous time in the evening with him and Dario around some home made Sljivovica and Rakia 😊

Unfortunately, we have to leave the next morning to start our way back, but our hearts were heavy as we wished we had more time to stay here and learn from our host. Before leaving, Dusan brought us to see the beehives he has and we had the opportunity to touch the hives with thousands of bees surrounding us. What an amazing time 😊

I think it is important to mention the war as well in this article as we had insights from so many people along this trip and the area we were staying was marked by it with empty villages left by Serbians. The only thing I would like to mention, is that the general ideas we got from everyone, is that no one really knows why it started.

Finally, the time to leave arrived, and he dropped us in Slunj in front of some amazing waterfalls where we will start to hitch back.

From there we found easily a lift to Zagreb, where this time we struggled to find a lift to Slovenia, but we finally managed to cross the border where the police became a bit suspicious with our driver as he understood we were hitchhikers.

We manage to get to the last station before the Austrian borders, and even with my best efforts with the last drivers that were working at the border control, it was impossible to sleep there – but it doesn’t mean that I will give up on that idea 😝.

It is quite late at this time and we decided to leave the station and head towards Hrusica, which is a village close by, where we tried to find hospitality for the night. After a few attempts, we crossed paths with a local girl, Gaja, who was walking with a friend on a street. After a bit of confusion and hesitation regarding our request, she finally invited us to stay at her place.

Once more, we received way more than we expected, and it is hard to describe with words. Gaja, her mother Damjana and Tamara were amazing with us and the comfort of a warm house and shower were heaven.

After a great evening with them and a great night sleeping, we spent a bit more time together in the morning and my heart grew even more grateful when I heard Gaja say that the next time she sees travelers, she will go and speak to them to invite them to her house.

 

By leaving aside our fears, we open new opportunities to learn and grow through sharing with people.

 

Once more, we had to leave and head back to the station, trusting what life would bring us and the beauty of people we meet. We managed to cross the border and our drivers brought us to Germany about 100km from Munich.

We got picked up by Julius & Beija that were going towards Frankfurt the next day. We made a stop in Munich, where I left Celine who had to take a bus to get back to Belgium to sit an exam the next day.

I would finish the trip on my own and head towards the West of Germany with Julius and Beija the next day. We had some great times sharing about traveling and the differences between countries that we know well and they finally left me close by Karshurle, where I would need two more lifts to get back to Metz.

It was a very intense trip where I came back more grateful towards life and its people and more eager to keep going 😊

Travel the world on the cheap!