Swapping continents: A blur

Yesterday was mostly a blur to me.

I’ve mentioned on this blog that I have no sense of direction, but I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that I have no sense of time. These are huge issues for a solo traveler.

I woke up in Tangier, Morocco, Africa, when my alarm went off at 8:00am. I did some mental math: Was there time for a shower, breakfast, packing AND walking to the ferry station before my ferry left at 9:30? I decided not, so I packed up without showering (I hate packing wet things anyway).

While I was packing, I spotted the ferry schedule. First ferry is at 10:30, not 9:30. Oh. Breakfast then. YAY!

Image 6
Gorgeous breakfast, with mosaic walls in the background and light reflecting off the Mediterranean streaming in the windows.
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The many textures and colors of the Continental Hotel, a favorite of Churchill, Dali, and Kerouac.
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The door to the lobby.

After breakfast, I still had plenty of time, so I checked my e-mail and enjoyed the view from my balcony a little longer.

But time telescoped weirdly, as it does, and suddenly I only had 30 minutes to get to the ferry! My knees and my hip weren’t happy when I heaved my massive pack onto my back. They’d had enough of that the day before.

When I arrived at the port, two men from the ferry company motioned me to hurry. “Vite, Vite!” I can NOT run with my pack on. My knees were wobbling as it was. I bought my ticket, and one of the men took my smaller pack and started running toward the port. Since he also had my passport and my ticket, I had no choice but to try to keep up with him, but the pain in my hip and knees was now brutal, and my legs were trembling. I wished I’d just bought a ticket for the next ferry out, but it was too late.

I made it through immigration and baggage security at top speed, with the help of three men who constantly had their hands out for baksheesh — tips. Dirham were flying out of my hands like the coins that fly out of Sonic the Hedgehog. I probably spent $60 in 10 minutes to get on that boat, with people urging me to run the whole time. I did my best, but I was about to collapse. It’s remarkable how long a pier can be.

When I finally got on the boat, I gratefully took off my pack and set it down on the sprawling pile of luggage. “No, take it upstairs with you please.” said the official. “There is too much luggage here already.”

Take. it. UP. STAIRS? Oh, in the name of all that’s holy, please please noooooo. My shoulders and hip were on fire when I put the pack back on. Somehow I made it to the top of the stairs and found a rack. Every seat on the ferry was taken, and people were sitting along every wall. I managed to find one empty barstool at the back of the ship and sank gratefully onto it. It took at least an hour to cross to Tarifa, and my legs and shoulders were still trembling when it was time to load up again and leave the ship.

The taxi to the bus station took up the only euros I had on me, and I lost hope when I saw the “no credit cards” sign at the station.’  I needed to walk and look for an ATM. The direction with the most businesses was uphill. By this time I was limping even without the pack on, and my hip was in agony. I had trouble with this same hip last November, it took over a month to heal. Lugging my pack up that hill was not even a possiblity. I did something I’ve never done before. I left my pack unattended in the bus station and just took my daypack with me. If all my clothes and personal items were stolen, so be it.

Luckily I found an ATM and also found my pack right where I left it. And now I had cash to buy a fortifying beer at the bus station. When it was time to board the bus, I sank into my seat and fell asleep almost immediately. In Cadiz, I had to wander a few blocks before finding a taxi, and had to carry my pack up a flight of stairs to get to the apartment.

I’m still recovering. Sorry for this long whine. I love Cadiz and will post all about it, with photos, tomorrow.

The good news is, after three days of traveling and surmounting obstacles, my depression has lifted and I feel alive again. In pain, but alive.

Published by Lauren

I'm a nomadic freelance writer, out enjoying the world!


  • Patricia

    March 20, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    What a ordeal Lauren! I sympathize with you re: the hip problem, I had a minor problem with my right hip 2 years ago and I can not imagine having to lug a heavy a back pack up and down stairs and run here and there as you did!

    I hope you feel better soon and look forward to more of your posts!

  • Lauren

    March 21, 2014 at 6:22 am

    I appreciate the sympathy, and the fact that you even read the whole thing! Sometimes it help just to whine a lot. I think I’m entering the ‘pain management phase’ 😀

  • Pat White

    March 21, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I so recommend Aleve for the hip! Hope you can find it there – it’s the best over the counter help. I imagine some of the pain is coming from sleeping in so many different beds. It’s amazing how that impacts your body.

  • Catherine

    March 21, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Are you going to be staying in one place for awhile?? sounds like you need a bit of a slow down before starting the next leg.

    P.S. I would never have made that ferry 🙂

  • Lauren

    March 21, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Yes, a couple of the beds have been not so good. Luckily the one I have now seems fine!

  • Lauren

    March 21, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I am sooo ready to sit still, but it’s a week or two per country until May 1, when I get to settle in Istanbul for a month. This is not a good pace for me. I definitely need to slow down after this.

    I think you would have had the good sense to say NO to the ‘hurry hurry’ and just buy a ticket for the next one. That’s what I’ll do next time!

  • Debbie Carter

    March 22, 2014 at 4:06 am


  • Catherine

    March 22, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    who knows? I might have waited for the later one but I wasn’t there so hard to say what I would do. 🙂 . . . I know sometimes I am optimistic about the time it takes to do things, then I end up modifying my schedule as I go.

    Sigh. you are posting about so many places that I can’t get into my bucket list. I probably should just settle for looking at your photos.

    Envy you the month in Istanbul. I want to go back there again. Never enough time to be a non-tourist type when I have been there.

  • Sue Guetterman

    March 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    WHEW! I am exhausted after reading this blog! Great job, Lauren.

    I can tell your depression has lifted. Your sense of humor is back! LOL!