Newsletter II December 2006
We finally left France, though not before visiting Sigean African Reserve, which cost a whopping €22 each. We first had to establish if there were monkeys in the reserve, as they would have had a wonderful time dismantling and reassembling our motorhome! Thankfully, there were none, so we decided to take the plunge. What a surprise to find we were the only people in the park. No screaming brats, no queues, no hassle from other motorists …..and no monkeys! It was worth every cent to have the whole park to ourselves.
A couple of days inside Spain we met Norman and Pauline, “The Poos” due to their vehicle registration POO 100. They were very nice people, but Mrs Poo could talk and talk and talk a constant stream of inconsequential drivel. Under duress, we agreed to go out for a Chinese with them and the evening fortuitously started with some strange happenings. As we were seated and waiting for our meals, an English man came in the restaurant and was unable to take his eyes off Alan. Apparently, he knew someone who looked just like Alan who owed him a lot of money in the UK. Satisfied that Alan was not on his wanted list, he settled down and stopped giving us the evil eye. The meal was lovely, but was tainted by the company. Mrs Poo just chattered and drivelled on, about what, escapes my memory. She could even eat and drivel at the same time. I don’t know how she did it? I was grateful indeed for the showing of a video about Richard Clayderman’s visit to China, offering stunning views of the Great Wall, and a duet with a really impressive little pianist, a Chinese girl of about 6 years old. I never realised that Richard Clayderman could be so pleasing to the senses. I was glad when the evening came to an end and we could retreat back into our truck!
Ayres Rock in Spain!
Just south of Mazeron we chanced upon a very good freecamp. Apparently it was once a campsite, but got badly damaged during a very bad flash flood, and then abandoned. We parked up next to some Germans who had been there for 5 days.
‘No problem.’ They told us. ‘Police come and go. No problem.’ Great we thought, as it was a lovely spot right on the beach with concrete standing. We settled down and sat outside drinking a brew. We watched as two Guardia Civil motorcyclists came and went.
‘See, no problem.’ Our German neighbours waived to us. Breathing a sign of relief we continued our brew. We then noticed another two Guardia Civil in a car. They put their hats on before getting out of their car, which meant only one thing, business. They then proceeded to knock on every camper door and ordered everyone to move. We had to move and luckily just down the road was a stunning place we dubbed Ayres rock. There was a very large parking area where we could park and see the sea and the strange sand stone rock formations, one of which looked like a huge Chanterelle mushroom. They were quite something.
A Nice Spot For Lunch!
Driving further south down the coast we chanced upon a truly idyllic freecamp just south of Aguilas, the sort of freecamp all us hippies dream of. We had heard about this camp, but had never been able to find it, probably due to not looking in the right direction at the right time. It was very well concealed from the road, and as we drove on the dirt track towards the well protected cove, it was obvious that this was no ordinary freecamp. The first vehicle that caught our eyes was a very old tractor and railway trailer. We also saw a few homebuild motorhomes. Also, unheard of on any freecamp in Spain, was a breadman! The Spanish don’t seem to like freecampers, and would never be seen delivering bread to such camps. The breadman just happened to be there as we arrived, and as we needed some bread for lunch, we thought we would stop just for lunch, as it was only 11 O’Clock.
Being very nosey, I went and investigated the tractor and trailer. They belonged to a German couple Uli and Gitta, who had become sick of everything in Germany and went an bought a 1958 Deutz 2 cylinder air-cooled tractor for €1,500. Attached to this was an old railway trailer and with a few alterations, was made very homely with a balcony on the front. They both spoke very good English and Gitta explained to me;
‘We drove all the way from Germany and Uli drives, but “Bulldog” (the tractor) is very slow. He only goes at 18kph, so I sit on the balcony and shout, “Uli, can’t you make it go faster? Uli make it go faster.” but poor Uli, he can’t make it go more than 18kph so I squirt him with my water pistol.’ Now you have to imagine Gitta sitting on the balcony with her long shoulder length golden curly hair, shouting and squirting a water pistol at a tall, skinny, long haired, very handsome Led Zepplin look-alike in a very old and very slow tractor, to go faster, followed by a very long queue of frustrated motorists who are unable to pass. Uli just shrugged his shoulders, with a well there’s nothing I can do about it look! We had to give it to them, almost 2,000 kms at 18kph in a 48 yr old 20bhp engine, and all on red diesel. (Up the revolution!) We really liked Uli and Gitta. They had dared to do something really different. Uli confessed to us, that they too had only stopped for lunch. That was 7 weeks ago.
As we talked, another German arrived on Uli ad Gitta’s patch.
‘Ah, this is Oliver, the Caveman.’ Announced Gitta. Caveman? What was she talking about? Apparently, Oliver had cycled from Germany on a soul-shearching mission on his pushbike! But luck was on his side when he arrived here, as Mica (another lone cyclist from Germany) had vacated some prime real estate property. A two roomed cave overlooking the cove.
Oliver, the Troglodyte invited us back to his cave. It was quite a climb up a steep and slippery slope and I had visions of my self on life-support before reaching the top. Just before the entrance to the cave was a very narrow precipice, but the view from his window seat was well worth the huffing and puffing to get to it. Oliver explained.
‘Mica had the cave before me, and she didn’t do anything to it. Sand was coming in half way up the walls, and into the bedroom. There was nothing in here but sand. I first had to take all the sand out and I built everything from materials I have found around the cave.’ Oliver’s home improvements were a sight to behold. He had made a sunken bamboo window bench affording a view of the whole cove and all the campers, Mediterranean sunsets included. A matching legged bench, and a re-claimed wooden table, with matching wooden work station incorporating bamboo bowl holders, and to finish off, a strong bamboo broom and bamboo rattan type shower screen which was fixed out on the precipice. He even boasted running water over the kitchen sink by means of a hanging water bag, with pipe and tap. Covering the floor was a blue tarpaulin decorated with a Lidal bag as a central feature. Along the sides of the front room were shelves built from bamboo and oddments of wood. In the bedroom he had raised the floor with old pallets on which stood his inner anti-mosquito tent, minus the weather cover. Oliver was understandably proud of his creations, and liked nothing more than to sit and contemplate his beautiful view and his life. He said;
‘Friends call me and ask, “What are you doing?” I tell them that I am thinking. “Thinking. What are you thinking about?” I tell them, I am thinking about life. When is enough, enough? How much is too much? How much do I really need to make me happy? But they don’t understand. They tell me that I cannot possibly be thinking all day and that too much thinking is not good. Of course I disagree with them. All my thinking is making me very happy and is helping me to understand life. Back in Germany I had no time for thinking, only working and sleeping.’
Oliver was a Dog Trainer in Germany, and had a little import export business. He was glad he left everything and came on this trip.
Oliver had been industrious to the extreme, so much so it all looked like something out of Journal Les Troglodytie Masion et Jardin! As much as Oliver hated the system and wanted to be free of it, there he was furiously re-building it all around himself! We sat wondering if he noticed what he was doing. He too had also been there about 7 weeks. He too only came for lunch! He asked us if we had met the Czech family. The Czech family we were told were a family that came here every year through the winter months. They were a mother and father, Petr and Simona and their 8 children! Their van was only a standard 6 berth motorhome with a little 2.5D engine. It took me a while to fathom how on earth 10 people managed to sleep in a 6 berth motorhome.
Did they sleep in shifts? Or was their motorhome like a Tardis? In fact I still haven’t fathomed it out. Petr was a real rebel and hated the Czech system. He lived in the summer months on his own land near the German border in a national park. His home was an arrangement of 3 railway trailers (like Uli’s) around which he had built an arrangement of shelters and add-ons, all totally illegal of course, but Petr is determined to keep his house. The authorities have tried unsuccessfully to make him take it down, but he has always managed to stay one step ahead of them. He confided to me;
‘I am from Prague and studied computer programming at university back in the 80’s. I met Simona at university and we both didn’t like the way the system was developing, telling us how to live our lives and how to bring our children up. (they only had two children then) So I tried to change the system and ended up a political prisoner. Enough was enough, so we bought some land and I built my house, took my children out of school to home educate them and gave up my job. We live off my 2 acre plot of land, with goats and chickens and vegetables. We have a good life, but not good enough for the authorities, who have been trying to make me send my children to school and pull down my home. My way of life has caused a lot of controversy in Czech Republic. People say that I have a good degree and I should be working, but the only money I have is my Child Benefit. Together with our self sufficiency, it is enough to manage on. We need very little.’ He smiled as I looked at photos of his construction back in Czech Republic which looked a little like the film set for the Lord of the Rings, ‘For example, it is OK to build anything if it is for a film. So when the authorities came round last time to try and make me take my home down, I just told them that the construction was for a film. They told me that the film was taking a long time to be made. I just told them that the film company was experiencing financial difficulties and that they would resume filming as soon as possible. They left me alone because they don’t know how to deal with me.’ He stood chuckling to himself. He then gave me a tip. ‘The more laws that are made, the more loopholes can be found, because the people that pass the laws simply don’t know what they are doing.’ I’m not sure that I needed any such encouragement but it was so nice to talk to someone who had a different from the “norm” point of view. All of Petr’s 8 children were very well behaved and they all had some skill or other. The eldest boy of 16 yrs was a brilliant fisherman. He would get up early of his own accord and with his homemade rod of bamboo and twine, he would head down to the sea and catch, moray eels, and other fish that the family could eat.
Petr told me proudly, ‘You know my son often sits next to other campers who have very expensive equipment, but they never catch anything. My son always brings back a good catch.’
The eldest daughter of 18 yrs, was very good with the other children, the youngest of which was 2 yrs. She was also a good bread maker and a music teacher and taught the other children to play violin and accordion. She could often be seen on the beach giving the other children music lessons. They played typical gypsy type music, which I really like. I had such respect for Petr and his family, for they expected nothing, and were a very close family and were coping well under such negative views of others. They didn’t judge others, but just wanted to be left alone to live their lives. Petr, I salute you.
That’s all for this month’s news. Love to you all, Cindy & Alan XXXXX
HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL.
We are of course now in Morocco and shall be heading down to the Paris – Dakar Rally in January. It will be our first time at the rally and is something we are both looking forward to seeing. Weather is fabulous!
Some other news; The Truck With No Name, now has a name. “GUANO” due to the condition in which it was found, covered in pigeon shit. Incidentally, Guano is going swimmingly. No problems at all and he is coping well with everything we ask it to do. We had cause for celebration the other day, as we managed to squeeze a whopping 18mpg out of it! Diesel in Morocco is about 47p per L.