Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200103 Morocco Spain

Thursday 1 March 2001  Busy day in Agadir commencing with us both visiting the dentist for a check up, scale and polish 300 DH (£20) each.  We don’t have an appointment but within 5 minutes I am in the chair with headphones over my ears playing soothing music.  No further treatment required for either of us.  Many people have had vehicle body work done here where the prices are low and the work good.  Drive to the recommended garage as we need a repair to a crack above the door.  Shortly after we bought the van the crack appeared and on investigation we found a join in the chassis.  Returning to Travelworld they put "Charlie" up on ramps and said there was no problem and the chassis join was normal.  They thought we must have grounded onto the skid bumps and jolted the van to cause the crack and also gaps in the kitchen cupboards.  We got the cupboards tightened up and hid the crack with a sticker but the crack is creeping and now may be the time to get it fixed.  They ask 700 DH so Steve hits back with 500 DH and they settle on 600 DH (£40) – a little too quickly we think with hindsight!  It’s noon when they start work and I set off to the bank to withdraw some cash but non of the ATM’s are working.  Luckily when I return the men have knocked off for lunch so we can go into the banks at 2.30PM when they open after their 3 hour lunch break.  The garage fortunately only have a 1 1/2 hour break and finish the work just after 5.00pm. The repair looks good and they have been able to fix a plate behind the crack to hold it firm.  Talk about the possibility of getting the door re-sprayed as it has always been a slightly different colour to the rest of the van.  Call back to drop the TV at the repairers.  Ali fixed the lack of red colour problem but now the picture lacks definition!  He implies that he will put it right at no extra charge.  Typical that whenever we have one thing done another problem rears it’s head.  At Place Lahcen Tamri we try out the restaurant next door to Mille et Une Nuits and enjoy our selections from the set menu but preferred 1001.  Park right on the seafront at Agadir where the guardian says it’s 15 DH (£1) for the night.  Stroll along the promenade which has a real holiday feel and could easily be Spain.  We’re tempted by signs for wine by the glass 15 DH (£1) and large beers 30 DH (£2).  The pianist arrives and our drinks are accompanied not only by music but also complimentary popcorn, pickled vegetables and then a plate of sardines and in fact a second plate of sardines which we refuse.  Wonder along to the hotels and pop in to inspect the pools of one or two to figure out if we can use them when Sandra visits.  Restaurant prices reflect the fact that we are in a 5 star hotel area but we are still amazed to see a 3 course set menu for 260 DH (£18) having just paid 35 DH ( £2.35) for ours.  Back at the van the guardian knocks for his money and asks for 20 DH but accepts the 15 DH we had already agreed on – typical.  We’re kept awake by some rain in the night, the first since we arrived in the Agadir area.
AGADIR BEACH FRONT – 15 MILES
Friday 2 March    Explore the enormous souk and pick up our fruit and vegetables.  Finally find a place to buy a door handle to match our bathroom one which broke.  It looks the same but the difference is that it is intended for the outside of a house which is why it costs 180 DH (£12) and maybe a 5 lever security lock is a bit over the top for a toilet door but what the heck.  I doubt it will be any better at locking Steve’s stink in!  Collect the TV which now seems to be working perfectly.  Ali asks for another 100 DH but gets 50 DH ( £3.35) which he seems happy with.  Pop into Uniprix where Maltesers are on offer at 2.50 DH (17p) a bag, buy 6 bags plus 5 chewing gums at 1 DH (7p) but they try to charge me 35 DH and I have to point out that it should be 20 DH.  Typical of Morocco but it does get a bit wearing after awhile – maybe they are trying to live up to their reputation of thieving Arabs.  We’re very happy to return to the peace and tranquillity of Banana Beach in the afternoon, it feels like coming home although even that is fraught with difficulty getting the van level.  It’s a dull cool cloudy day so lots of people are around and we get frequent inspections on our repair job.  That’s when we spot that the crack is already starting to re appear and there is now also a crack in the door frame which they removed to do the job.  With hundreds of "experts" on hand the conclusion is that the join in the chassis whether original or not is causing the problem.  If we can get it strengthened then any further repairs we make to the crack or kitchen cupboards will hold.  Our group of inspectors also point out that our sinking bath tub, the slight ripple on the inside of the van door and the different colour to the outside of the door may also be part of the equation.  Possibly it was involved in an accident before we bought it?  To cap it all the van door now won’t close whilst we are on the ramps which suggests the framework still has movement.  Plan of action is to contact Gulfstream to see if the van was manufactured with a join in the chassis, return to the crack repairers tomorrow to see what they say and also to find out about getting the chassis strengthened. 
BANANA BEACH, BRIT CAMP – 22 MILES
Saturday 3 March  The garage looks at the repair and ask us to return a week on Monday as next week is a holiday.  For Muslims "Aid el Kebir" celebrates the willingness of Abraham to obey God and to sacrifice Isaac. Every household that can afford it will slaughter a sheep to eat then hang the skin out to cure.  In holiday terms it equates roughly to our Christmas with the sheep instead of turkey.  Shops and businesses will all be closed on Monday and Tuesday but like England many string the holiday out for the whole week.  E-mail Gulfstream then call into a garage near the beach where we park.  The mechanic is only taking a 2 day holiday and will look at our chassis next Wednesday.  With our plan in action we drive on to Taghazoute.  Notice crowds gathered buying sheep.  Spot one being driven home dangling over the back of a moped and another with a man walking it wheelbarrow style.  Drop the laundry off for 2 service washes at 30 DH (£2) a time.  With time to spare we go out for lunch and choose the restaurant next door to Florida where we went with Pete.  A mistake yet again as Florida was far better.  Mental note that once we have found a good place we should stick with it instead of trying others.  Returning to "our" beach we round a bend to find a motorhome broken down in the gutter.  Both the twin rear wheels on the drivers side have come off and the van has collapsed causing the frame to be torn and bent out.  It’s a French motorhome and in broken French we offer assistance and end up taking the man to the next village to arrange a tow truck. Puts our van problems into perspective for sure.  Just back to our spot in time for afternoon boules – what a busy life we lead.
BANANA BEACH  2 – 35 MILES
Sunday 4 March   It’s such a nice hot day that we start by eating breakfast outside.  Sunbathe until time for afternoon boules.  Return to peruse some of the many old magazines which are being passed around.  I’m amazed when in a "Woman" of October 23rd I see an article written by "Clare Swatman".  Know our surname is unusual so to find it matched with Clare is even more surprising even if the spelling of Claire is different. 
BANANA BEACH 3
Monday 5 March  And the weather today is "scorchio"  So hot that we have to abandon boules in favour of a cooling swim in the sea.  It’s still hot in the evening and we linger outside as long as possible.
BANANA BEACH   4
Tuesday 6 March  Another scorcher of a day, too hot for us even to think of playing boules but perfect for frequent swims in the cool Atlantic Ocean.  Walk to the campsite in the evening to make phone calls but the telephone rejects all but one of our coins which is not enough to get through, very frustrating.
BANANA BEACH 5
Wednesday 7 March  A rainy start to the day.  With Saul accompanying us as interpreter we visit the mechanic who has himself decided to take the day off to visit family in Agadir. Sunny afternoon.
BANANA BEACH 6 – 13 MILES
Thursday 8 March  Back to the mechanic who says he can do the job but not until Monday and he may want the van for 2 days.  Take a rain check until the following Monday as we don’t want the inconvenience whilst Sandra is visiting.  Hot but windy day, hope it improves for Sandra’s planned sun and relaxation week.
BANANA BEACH 7 – 2 MILES
Friday 9 March   Very hot day, no wind.  Steve sets to work giving "Charlie" an oil and filter change.  Interesting to note that the last time he did one was at Nordkapp the most northern point of our travels and we are now at the southern most point.  In the evening the boules team get together for a meal and bonfire to celebrate Norman and Joan’s 50th wedding anniversary.  Also 3 couples are leaving on Mondy so it becomes a bit of a farewell do as well.
BANANA BEACH 8
Saturday 10 March  A hot start to the day and we begin boules at 10.00 but still get forced off the beach but this time by a cold sea mist.  Phone Claire from the village and by the time we return the mist has cleared and we can sunbathe again.
BANANA BEACH 9
Sunday 11 March  Away at 8.30am to meet Sandra’s flight which arrives at 10.15am.  It’s lovely to see her and also to receive mail and packages from England.  As it’s a very hot day we get around the new Marjane hypermarket as quickly as possible.  Park in the tourist area at Palm Beach 10 DH (70p) overnight.  It’s busy on the beach and the waves are crashing in.  Spot a fire further along the beach which looks very serious with flames and black smoke belching into the air.  Early evening walk up to 1001 restaurant.
AGADIR, PALM BEACH – 43 MILES
Monday 12 March  Drive along the coast to inspect the burnt out restaurant which just happens to be next to the spot where we parked last time we were in Agadir.  Return to Banana Beach and introduce Sandra to the crowd.  Take lots of cooling dips in the ocean and do our best to get Sandra a tan in order to reduce the hassle from the traders.  When they see a newly arrived white body they are like bees round a honey pot.  Settle on fresh sardines for the evening BBQ.
BANANA BEACH – 21 MILES
Tuesday 13 March  Sandra is recruited onto the boules team for an early game with Aiden, Anita and Saul. Walk to Taghazoute for a fish dinner followed by a drink at Panorama Cafe where the surfers provide entertainment.  Hot afternoon with sunbathing interspersed with dips in the sea.  A storm brews around us in the evening but we sit out in the balmy air and chat with Aidan and Anita until 11.00pm whilst enjoying the lightening show.
BANANA BEACH 2
Wednesday 14 March  Market day in Banana Village so we introduce Sandra to the haggling system and give her a brief tour of the village itself.  Return for boules, sunbathing and swimming giving Sandra a good insight into our lazy lifestyle.  Late afternoon wind forces us inside to eat the Moroccan tajine which I cook.
BANANA BEACH 3
Thursday 15 March  The early wind dies down.  Purchase a large mullet which is delicious barbecued for lunch and eaten with couscous.   
BANANA BEACH 4
Friday 16 March  The dull start prompts Aidan and Anita to leave earlier than planned.  The camp is breaking up and there is a noticeable reduction in the numbers of motorhomes around.  Most people arrive in time for Christmas so with only a 3 month visa they are now having to leave.  Can’t believe that we have already spent 50 days camped in different areas within Banana Beach.  The clouds soon clear and Sandra sets out to work on her tan which is coming along nicely.  Phil & Sue move in next door with Roley & Anne next to them.  Strange how it’s just the "younger" Brits that are left but also nice as we have more in common.  Phil collects some firewood for our bonfire and has spotted an up rooted palm tree along the beach.  With Roly, Sandra, Steve and myself in tow we return to try and saw it into movable pieces but the task is beyond us as unlike the Aussies we don’t carry chain saws.  Unfortunately the wind again puts the mockers on the planned bonfire.
BANANA BEACH 5
Saturday 17 March  Back to Agadir to take Sandra to visit the tourist attraction of La Medina D’Agadir 40 DH (£2.65).  They are in the process of creating a traditional Medina complete with restaurants, accommodation, shops with traditional wares and artists at work.  Although incomplete the guide shows us around the finished area and supplies lots of information about the craftsmen and Moroccan traditions.  Sandra is starting with a bit of an upset stomach but does manage to venture round the traditional Souk back in Agadir.  Get collared by a stall holder who instantly recognises Sandra as a tourist by her shorts.  We get hauled in for the hard sell over glasses of mint tea.  Reckon he must think I am a bit of a hippie in my sarong skirt as he keeps asking me if I smoke or if I want any "special’ things like poppy seeds etc. and giving me the nudge nudge wink wink elbow elbow routine.  Not sure which of us is projecting the worst image!  Anyway Sandra gets away with some tea and a perfume bar and is happy with the price she has paid.  Return to Palm beach but the wind has pushed everyone off the beach.  Our previous recce comes in handy as we stroll nonchalantly into the nearby hotel and settle down by the pool.  Very handy for Sandra as good clean sit down toilets are on hand.  Sandra has promised all week to take us out for a slap up meal as a thank you but by the time we return to the van she is in no state to eat let along move.  We tease her about the extremes she has gone to avoid buying us a meal but refuse her offer for us to go out alone at her expense and settle in for the night.
AGADIR, PALM BEACH – 27 MILES
Sunday 18 March  Sandra is feeling much better and we jokingly suggest she takes us out for a slap up breakfast, except that my stomach is now growling.  Drop Sandra off for her 11.35am flight and check out the toilets at the airport – good sit down jobbies.  Can’t believe how fast the week has gone but she has had the relaxing time she needed and we have very much enjoyed her visit.  After a grocery shop (good toilets at Marjane) and E-mail (also good toilets) we drive back home.  Thank goodness we also have a good toilet in the motorhome as my upset stomach goes into overdrive.  It’s a beautiful hot day with no sign of a breeze and stays that way until nightfall.
BANANA BEACH – 44 MILES
Monday 19 March  My stomach is settling down although I really don’t know what can have caused it and the only thing Sandra and I had different to Steve was the steaks we had bought at Marjane.  Phil and Sue are off to explore Paradise Valley and have invited us to join them as our van is too wide for the roads.  It’s a lovely trip out through a small gorge with pretty blossom by the stream.  Emerge into a valley with hundreds of palm trees and a flowing river which we would normally bathe in.  Unfortunately many of the rivers and oases in Morocco are infected with bilharzia and having read the gory details in my Travellers Health book we don’t want to host a parasite in our bladders.  Continue past the parking area for motorhomes and up to Hotel Tifrit where we stop for a drink and a cooling swim in the chlorinated pool which is considered safe.  Returning we pause by the stream where the motorhomers are parked and notice many of them in swimwear bathing in the river.  Sit by the edge to picnic and find any temptation to enter the water is quoshed when we see lots of small snails on the rocks which is a good indication of bilharzia infected water.  Whilst the water appears to be flowing fairly quickly just now we know that the Hotel had just started to empty the swimming pool into it upstream so it is not a true indication of it’s safety.  Return to the beach as we know salt water is safe and we can relax in the sea.  My stomach has just about returned to normal and I give it the final test when I ask Phil & Sue to join us for a curry.
BANANA BEACH 2
Tuesday 20 March   Slight breeze, nice hot day.  Steve checks the chassis where the mechanic removed the nuts to inspect the job last week and finds they were only put back loosely.  We’re glad we decided against getting the work done here is this is how lax they are.  In true Moroccan style Steve spins the job of tightening them out all day.  Each nut seems to earn him a half hour break. 
BANANA BEACH 3
 
Wednesday 21 March  A busy morning cleaning the awning as having made a provisional plan to leave on Sunday our lazy days are numbered – yes I know your heart bleeds for us.  I push Steve and manage to get 1 hours work per mug of tea out of him – don’t think that would go down too well on a CV.  We’ve planned a bonfire this evening and this has developed into a shared meal.  Stan and Barbara provide pre dinner nibbles which we enjoy whilst watching Steve display his Aussie fire building skills.  Phil & Sue have contributed a home made tomato and lentil soup which is followed by my fire baked jacket potatoes and baked beans.  All this is very nicely rounded of by Roley & Anne’s fruit salad in wine served with cream.  Gee it’s a tough life on the road.
BANANA BEACH 4
Thursday 22 March  It’s a blazing hot day which starts with the hot "shirgar" wind blowing up from the Sahara.  Once the wind drops the temperature climbs even further and just after dinner it’s 36C in the shade and time for yet another cooling dip in the sea.  The usual shepherd comes round to graze his sheep and we give him a toy for his little boy.  The little boy is pleased and comes over to kiss Steve’s hand.  This is quite unusual as when we have previously handed out toys we have then been asked for more or money as well and they haven’t seemed that grateful.  Although we brought a bag of toys which Claire had been throwing out the people here are more in need of children’s clothes and especially shoes so will keep that in mind for our next visit. 
BANANA BEACH 5
Friday 23 March  Same start as yesterday but with a stronger hot wind which blows the dust around.  Apparently this usually happens around this time of year and eventually drives everyone away.  Roley & Anne are the first of us to leave as they set off this morning.  Again as yesterday the wind soon dies down and it’s a scorcher.  Enjoy a final bonfire with Stan & Barbara and Phil & Sue for company
BANANA BEACH 6
Saturday 24 March  Phil & Sue leave followed shortly by Stan & Barbara which leaves us as the only British van left on the beach.  With everyone going it’s a bad time for the Moroccan "send backs".  These are Moroccan girls who accompany older European men for the duration of their stay but get left behind when they leave.  On occasion they do end up marrying as one 22 year old has done to a British chap aged over 80.  They seem to have most tastes covered here as there’s also an abundance of young gay Moroccan boys.  We enjoy the hot calm day with no wind except from Steve who has an upset stomach.  At 4.00pm we reluctantly pack up to leave having found out that Monday is the Muslim New Year and there may be special things happening in Marrakech.  Can’t believe that we have spent a total of 56 days parked in different spots along this beach.  Into Agadir to tie up a few loose ends before parking for the last time at Palm Beach.  The guardian recognises us immediately but looks disappointed to find that Sandra is not with us this time.
AGADIR, PALM BEACH – 17 MILES
Sunday 25 March  Not sure if this is the start of their New Year celebrations but all through the night cars drive past honking their horns.  Fortunately we’re already awake, me with a bad patch of asthma and Steve making frequent toilet visits.  British summer time begins so we’re now 1 hour behind England.  It’s Mother’s Day so we need to keep an eye on the time for phoning up.  The car park guardian’s son looks to be about the right size for an old cardigan of Nic’s which we still have.  We give it to him and he stands in front of the van wearing it and saluting us.  Leave Agadir heading out over the Atlas mountains which still have a little snow on the top. Stop to make phone calls and get answerphone’s from both Mums and when we phone Claire it’s Daniel who answers.  He’s very chatty but won’t let us speak to Claire and keeps asking when we are coming to see him again.  Steve makes the fatal mistake of saying soon but to Daniel I’m sure that will mean a whole lot sooner than in 5 weeks time.   It’s a good fast road to Marrakech and we arrive just after mid-day and guided by the impressive 70 metre high Koutoubia minaret we easily find the car park behind it.  Roley & Anne are already here but the car park is full.  The guardian asks us to wait at the side and as a few cars leave he manoeuvres others to make a space for us next to Roley & Anne.  People leave their cars with the hand brake off and he moves them too and fro (with the occasional bump) then chocks them with stones – won’t be leaving our hand brake off for sure.  Head off into the "Djemaa el Fna" which is the main square bustling with stalls and side shows.  Snake charmers, hustlers, water vendors and dentists pulling teeth are part of the appeal.  From here we head into the souk taking a note of our bearings from the sun.  We must be getting better at this as although the lanes narrow and we do a lot of zig zagging we emerge where we want to be to visit the Ben Youssef Medersa 10 DH (70p).  It’s an old college where 800 students studied the Koran and lodged in tiny cell type dormitories.  The main attractions are the architecture akin to the Alhambra Palace in Granada and the unusual layout.  Back through the souk without even a glance at the map then through the square checking out meal options for tonight en route.  Hotel Ali offer an all you can eat Moroccan buffet for 60 DH (£4.20) so we book a table for 7.00pm.  South of the square we make our way to the Saadian Tombs, again 10 DH (70P) admission which seems to be the standard price throughout Morocco.  We shuffle through a narrow passageway to emerge into an open courtyard full of tourists.  We have to queue to view the lavish mausoleums and tombs where many Royal Princes are buried and most importantly Sultan Ahmed el Mansour who also designed it all.  Return to the van to scrub up for our evening out.  Roley & Anne join us as we return to Hotel Ali and find the buffet excellent.  Up on the Hotel roof top terrace we have a fine view over the square which is heaving with people, food stalls and performers.  The noise is incredible and we quickly descent and make out way into the thong.  Food stalls abound lit up by gas lanterns and surrounded by make shift tables.  The most popular ones are selling roast sheeps heads at 70 DH (£4.90) for a "Grande tete" or 60 DH (£4.20) for a petite tete.  The stall holder picks up the head then bashes it with a cleaver before scooping all the pieces onto your plate.  There’s a terrific atmosphere and had we not already eaten we could easily have shopped from stall to stall to make up a 4 course meal (baa the heads).  Entertainment includes bands, fortune tellers, belly dancers, hook the bottle stalls and most popular of all the highly animated story tellers.  Brilliant.  Having dressed up to the nines we head to the most expensive and the most beautiful hotel in Morocco the Hotel La Mamounia.  Set within its own palace grounds it is rather magnificent and also boasts it’s own casino.  Notice that their Moroccan restaurant 3 course menu is priced at 750 DH (£50) and double rooms from 2500 DH (£165).  After exploring the hotel and grounds we return to our own compact and bijou residence for drinks complete with a view of the floodlit Koutoubia.
MARRAKECH, KOUTOUBIA CAR PARK – 161 MILES
Monday 26 March  Despite many inquiries it seems that although it is New Years Day the celebrations all revolve around prayers and the family.  With nothing special happening we set off towards Casablanca but are first amazed to only be charged 40 DH (£2.80) for parking even though the sign says 80 DH (£5.60) for 24 hours.  The roads are good and although we get lots of roadside sellers trying to attract our attention we have no incidents with children throwing or threatening to throw stones.  Settat is quite a surprise as it is a large town with some very modern impressive buildings but even more surprisingly the Royal University of Golf.  Pick up the motorway just NE of Casablanca with a toll of 28 DH (£1.85) to Rabat, 15 DH (£1.00) to Kenitra and 57 DH (£3.90) to the end 25km north of Larache.  We’ve been told about a free camping area 2km from the end of the motorway towards Larache but as we head back towards Larache we realise that I have miss interpreted the instructions and we should have come off at the Larache junction 25 km’s back.  Fortunately we have made good time today and it is still only 6.00pm when we arrive at the Aire de Repos.  It’s a great spot between the town and the motorway junction and funded by the government for travellers.  We are welcomed in English and invited make use of the toilets and free hot showers.  Just what we both need but unfortunately although mine is piping hot Steve cops for a cold one and can’t even ask for his money back.  There’s a restaurant, children’s playground and prayer hall and buses to town leave from the entrance so our overnight stop may become 2 nights giving us chance to explore Larache itself.
LARACHE, AIRE DE REPOS – 331 MILES
Tuesday 26 March   It’s a nice spot so we decide to stay another day and explore the town.  Local buses in Morocco charge 3 DH (21p) for all journeys but we splash out and commandeer a Petit Taxi for 7 DH (49p).  Meander through the Medina and souk then down to the port where we plan to take a rowing boat over to the lovely northern beaches.  By the time we get there the clouds are gathering so we change plans and walk back around the ancient fort dicing with death along the pavement which has either collapsed into the sea, started to collapse or looks ready to collapse and feels like you are walking on a roller coaster. By the time we get back to the van the sun is out but Steve’s stomach is playing up.  This may well have been aggravated by my suggestion that WE give the outside of the van a thorough clean.  He rests up inside whilst I slave away and get many offers to clean other vans.  A restless night with Steve making frequent visits to the loo and me coughing and wheezing, what a pair of old crocks we are at the moment.
LARACHE
Wednesday 27 March  Awake at 6.20am with drizzle pattering on the van roof.  Get up and hit the road by 10 to 7.  No problems heading back to Ceuta and even the weather brightens up.  We’ve really enjoyed our time in Morocco and have been lucky not to have had any stones thrown at the van as many other motorhomers have had.  It’s still a bit third world style but we reckon in a few more years that will recede as most of the younger people wear western clothes and speak French.  We’ll be back but wouldn’t want to come back here as a donkey having seen the way they are miss treated and over worked.  Reach the Moroccan border at 9.35am and following paperwork and a van inspection we emerge half an hour later into SPAIN at 12.05 (2 hours ahead of Moroccan time).   588 miles from Agadir we are back in Ceuta filling up with cheap diesel at 72.9 pesetas (29p) litre and pumping up our air suspension bags to give us better clearance getting on and off the ferry.  Pick up some cheap whiskey 800 ptas (3.20) and brandy 250 ptas (1.00) at the cash and carry.  Through customs with the sniffer dog doing a quick van inspection.  Check in for the ferry making it quite clear that we are 3.20 metres high.  As usual this goes over their heads unlike the fast ferry deck which will not go over ours.  Retreat to the line of trucks waiting for the 3.45pm slow ferry and settle down to read for a couple of hours.  Along with another motorhome we still have a problem boarding the ferry and have to drive on whilst everyone else is backed on.  After an uneventful 1 3/4 hour crossing we dock at 5.30pm on mainland SPAIN and drive back into EUROPE where Police crawl under the vehicles to inspect for stowaways.  By the time we have done a big shop at Lidl time is pressing on so we turn off to La Linea where we have heard you can free camp.  We’re amazed to find a car park full of motorhomes especially when we recognise two of them as David & Joyce and Norman & John who we were with in Morocco.  They have already been parked here for 2 weeks and say it is a great spot.  We are directly opposite Gibraltar with just the airport runway between us and the face of the rock.  It’s said to be an entertaining place at night as cartons of cigarettes are slung over the border fence to be picked up by youths who race off on motorbikes.  In an endeavour to catch them the Police cars use the motorhomes to hide their vehicles behind.  Just settling in when their is a knock on the door and we are surprised to see Jack & Teri the kiwis whom we also met in Morocco.  Plan for a walk to Gibraltar tomorrow then a catch up with everyone.  As darkness descends just after 9.00pm we peer out of the window to admire the rock which is now floodlight, reckon we should be paying extra for a view like that.
LA LINEA – 111 MILES
Thursday 29 March  We are rudely awoken by the Police at 8.30am.  It would seem that there are now too many motorhomes here and we are all being politely asked to move on within an hour and not return.  Plan B sees us in the queue to drive over to GIBRALTAR and we are surprised to get through within a few minutes as when we came 4 years ago we had to queue for hours.  Still cheap fuel at Safeways with diesel 40.5p litre plus 5p litre off if you spend £40.00 in store. Spend a pleasant hour stocking up the trolley with typically British goods. Steve still doesn’t get his pork pie and anyway you can’t take any meat products back over the border because of the foot and mouth problem.  Quickly back through into SPAIN then along the coast to Estepona where we have arranged to meet Barry and Iris Hands.  They previously bought a motorhome in the States and shipped it back to the UK and mutual friends suggested we look them up.  We immediately hit it off having motorhomes, travel to unusual countries and naturism in common.  They invite us back to their villa in the hills and within an hour we are parked up connected to their electricity,  my washing is in the machine and we are offered showers, brilliant.  It’s a dull day which is unfortunate as they have a lovely secluded swimming pool but as we get to know them they suggest we stay on at least until Sunday when there is an International fete in town.  Late afternoon a couple called Terry & Yvonne call round.  Like us they have contacted Barry & Iris through mutual friends as they also want to buy an RV in the states.  A brainstorming session follows when we all pick up a good few tips.  Straight after Terry & Yvonne leave we sit down to a chilli which Iris has cooked and just as we finish their friends Chris & Marion call round.  They are British but have moved here after living in Oman for many years so we get a chance to learn about another country which sounds interesting to visit.
ESTEPONA – 33 MILES
Friday 30 March  Iris is another Internet addict and I spend an hour or so showing her a few new things on the computer.  It’s a beautiful day so we relax by the pool but unfortunately their gardener is working so we are restricted to only going topless.  The pool is chilly but the sun is so hot that we end up taking quite a few dips.  This is a great spot and it’s no wonder they are able to rent out their villa for 8 weeks a year at £900 a week.  On the top floor it has 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, lounge, kitchen and dining room then underneath at the pool level is a self contained one bedroom flat.  You are only 5 minutes from Estepona port and have a great view of the ocean from the terrace. Reckon if we had to put down roots we could put up with something like this but whether we could afford it or not is another matter. 
ESTEPONA
Saturday 31 March  Iris goes off to do some preparation for her English cream teas which are being provided at the fete tomorrow.  Barry takes us into Estepona which is surprisingly not a tourist resort and only has one hotel.  Enjoy hot chocolate and churros in the cafe and a wonder round the town.  Drop Steve at the port to watch the Liverpool match in a sports bar.  I return with Barry and try to regain my all over tan by the pool.  Barry and Iris join me and late afternoon Steve makes his big entrance by creeping up on us and diving into the pool.  Barry & Iris have been invited out for the evening but leave us free reign of the house and all it’s facilities.  Never fails to amaze us just how many friendly and trusting people we are meeting on our travels.
ESTEPONA     
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