IV: TETOUAN – MEKNES

L’agua l’agua no paraba, la carretera no se arreglaba y llegamos a Tetouan tarde en la noche a un parking donde acampamos descaradamente con permiso del personal.

carping tetouan
Nuestro Chiringuito

Al otro día hicimos Mercado a la salida del parking y vendimos gafas a tletin dirham (30 DH, 3 euros) estuvo muy divertido y conocimos a Ryan que también vendía frente a nosotros y nos ayudó todo el día. Yazmín vivió su primera experiencia Hammam (baño árabe de mujeres) donde la bañaron minusiósamente e hizo nuevas amigas. Volvió vestida de marroquí con pañuelito y todo. Por la noche volvimos a nuestro “profechonalchiringo” y seguía l’agua l’agua.

b
Vendiendo gafas a tletin dirham en Tetouan


Al día siguiente Yazmín y Belén acompañadas del Perro fueron a vender gafas y llegó Ahmed,un viejo amigo marroquí que conocimos en Barcelona. Ryan contrató a Belén para vender en su puesto de ropa.

A media tarde llegó la policía y se llevó a Marco y Xelo a la comisaría. Estuvieron un buen rato hablando hasta que finalmente nos dieron 1 hora para abandonar Tetouan. (otra vez 1 hora!!) Nos despedimos de nuestros nuevos amigos y nos marchamos rápidamente junto a Ahmed.

Partimos a Azla, una playa cerca de Tetouan donde nos quedamos en el camping del mismo nombre, llovía y paraba de llover todo el tiempo. Nos quedamos dos días, Ahmed hizo mercado, cocinamos en el fuego y jugamos con los cachorros que había en la casa.

Seguimos camino a Qued Lao, un pueblo un poco más grande donde tocamos en un restaurant a cambio de comida. Dormimos en un camping.

c

De ahí nos fuimos rumbo a Ketama, empezamos a subir el Riff por la noche y nos encontramos con grandes dificultades ya que el camino era malísimo y las subidas muy peligrosas con precipicios y mucha pendiente. Tuvimos que bajarnos de la furgo y hacer maniobras para poder subir. Acampamos por ahí al lado de la ruta.  En la mañana seguimos hacia un pueblo en lo alto de las montañas, hicimos mercado y en la noche fuimos recibidos por la familia de Ahmed. Nos trataron muy bién, fumamos y comimos cordero, porque era la semana del cordero. Hacía frio y llovía, las montañas tenían nieve, parecía Suiza.

e

Pasamos por Fès y solo fuimos al Super supermercado, era todo carísimo, compramos 1 paquete de galletas para todos y nos fuimos a Meknes.

Se nos rompió el carrito así que tuvimos que pasar la noche en la ciudad por lo tanto hubo que ir a buscar un hostal a la 1 am, fue algo complicado porque la mayoría estaban cerrados y los demás nos cobraban muy caro. Finálmente encontramos.

Al otro día hicimos mercado, se arregló el carrito y nos fuimos. Ahmed se volvió para Tetouan y nosotros seguimos hacia a Mannismann beach en Mohammedia, donde tenemos varios amigos del viaje anterior.


***


Tetouan Public Parking
Tetouan Public Parking

Tetouan was our first authentic experience at incorporating ourselves to the daily habits and lifestyles of our fellow Morrocans, though always with trademark Chanto twists. We drove into a public parking lot in the center of town where Marco quickly made friendly chit-chat with the parking attendants, and after exchanging smiles and CDs for permission to set up a gypsy campsite in a corner of the lot (parking/carping), we started setting up our tents amisdt giant puddles and streams of neverending rainwater. During the following days we sorted through disintigrated and moldy cardboard boxes that had been tied to the roof of the Subaru, trying to salvage the goods that we had brought with us from Europe to sell in the Morrocan souqs (markets). In Tetouan we mostly sold batches of last season’s eyeglasses that Marco had acquired in Switzerland for free from generous/overstocked optometrists.

Belen modeling the goods
Belen modeling the goods

The going rate was 30 dirham (3 euros) but of course part of the game is the bartering, the edgy-yet-friendly negotiations. More than once I was reminded of Monty Python’s Life of Brian’s ridiculous haggling scenes, but as far as movies go I actually started seeing Star Wars scenes every which way I turned. Any superfan that finds themselves in Morocco can imagine George Lucas having visited, perhaps smoked something tasty, looked around him, and wrote `A New Hope’ right there and then. The chilaba clad merchants and traders, the hooded jedi tunics, what’s this about sand people, the similarity between the vast dryness of Tatouine and the Moroccan landscapes (alright Tatouine is a city in Tunisia, close enough) all were very impressive. It would have been very cool to have found the cantina (and Han Solo) but alas, stumbling across a bar that serves alcohol in Morocco is not a common occurance. Instead the typical social gathering point for men are cafes, which look exactly like a basic bar—tables, chairs, bar, bartender, television, cardgames—but instead of beer and cigarettes the men drink tea and smoke hashish, or in the north they smoke “kif“, a finely cut mixture of homegrown tobacco and marijuana leaf smoked through a very long and slender pipe with a tiny bowl at the end called a“sipsi“ or something of the sort.

Filling a homemade pipe with kif
Filling a homemade pipe with some homegrown

And what really drew my attention was how extremely common it was to find all the men attentively watching animal and nature documentaries in the cafes! In Spain or in the US a typical bar scene may include a rowdy half drunk crowd spilling beer and shouting at the sports match on TV; in Morocco the men are sitting peacefully smoking their pipes and learning about animals on the Discovery Channel. Go figure.

Our eyeglasses stand in the Tetouan market was so successful that it attracted the attention of local authorities, who passed by and took Marco and Xelo down to the station with them. From there an informative game of 20 questions ensued, which ended when the police told the boys that since their people cannot go and sell goods in our countries, we were also forbidden to sell goods in their countries. They then gave us exactly one hour to pack up all our belongings, our public campsite, and get the hell out of Tetouan. And if we did not comply or if we were caught again making market in their district, they would deport us to Spain—which struck me as extremely ironic, as being banished to Spain is probably a dream for many of the Moroccans that surrounded us.

Luckily we had met up with Ahmed, a dear friend from Barcelona who is originally from Tetouan, who guided us to a (real) campsite where we paid 60 dirham for all of us to take over their gorgeous terrain along the winding Mediterranean coastline with the snowcapped Rif Mountains to our backs.

i

Our days and evenings were spent jamming and singing around a fire (‘Nos Echaron de Tetouan’/’They Kicked Us Out of Tetouan’, Perro’s hit single), and Marco proved to us yet again with his superb cooking skills that he is ready to get married and will be a wonderful mother to his dozens of little Marcos. From here we continued along the coast, climbing up into the mountains, even reaching 2000 meters above sea level with the sea still in sight! We had the incredible fortune and pleasure of exploring the nooks and crannies of the Rif region, a privilege not bestowed upon many travelers or curious eyes. The sparse and isolated farms throughout the mountains and valleys are where the ingredients of kif are grown, and the region itself is the heart of hashish production—one of Morocco’s most successful industries.

j

Now that we were traveling with a Moroccan we ventured along the cliffs and slopes—at times being pursued by psychotic locals who would speed up, hang halfway out their car windows, flailing about a joint in their hand, half shouting and half cackling ‘Hashish, hashish!’ as they passed us time and time again, adamant about finding a wealthy European buyer for their harvest. We passed through miniscule towns that only seemed inhabited on their souq (market) day—which is how they named these populations, we were explained. For example, we passed through the quiet town of Wednesday Market and so forth. Eid-al-Adha, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, was spent with Ahmed’s relatives up in the snow dusted mountains—that’s right, snow and ice in Africa. Over the next few days we snaked our way south to Fez, and then headed west towards Marrakech. We had to make an emergency stop in Meknes though due to a busted axle on the trailer—whoops—so we stayed on a few days, made market, a bit of tourism, and once Marco had patched up the axle (we prayed for it to hold out until we could fix it for real), and continued along the road west towards Mohammedia.

Taking a stroll around Meknes
Taking a stroll around Meknes

III: GRANADA – TANGER

Las termas estaban buenísimas, un hoyo en la tierra con un tubo que tiraba agua muy caliente con olor a huevo podrido por el azufre. Ahí nos quedamos 2 noches cantando ITALIANOOOO!!! con María de la Tierra. Volvimos al parking muy limpios (terma vale como ducha!!) Nos fuimos de tapas y nos despedimos de Noemí que volvía a Suiza a trabajar.

Partimos hacia Castellar de la frontera, un pueblo okupado por antiguos hippies y nos fuimos a acampar a las afueras en medio del bosque. A la mañana tomamos café en el bar de María.

De turismo en Castellar de las Fronteras

Seguimos camino hacia Algeciras, paramos en un lugar de mega tiendas y compramos las últimas cosas que necesitábamos como carpas, colchones inflables, llantas recicladas, etc. Dormimos cerca de una urbanización y empezó l’agua l’agua (lluvia) !!

A medio día llegamos al Puerto de Algeciras para tomar el barco hacia Ceuta. El tiempo estaba malo por lo que costó encontrar Ferry que cruce el estrecho, finalmente a las 7 de la tarde salimos hacia Áfrikaaaa!!! Fueron 45 minutos de mareo continuo, pero llegamos vivos!!!

Estrecho de Gilbrataaarrrghhh

En Ceuta fuimos a casa de Roger y bajamos a una playa cerca para acampar; dormimos bien hasta que la policía nos despertó y nos dio 1 hora para abandonar el lugar.

Llovía e intentamos tocar en la calle peatonal, un poli amistoso nos dio permiso, pero después vinieron otros no tan buena onda y no nos dejaron tocar porque el alcalde venía a inaugurar las luces decorativas de las fiestas. Por la noche fuimos a tocar al cumpleaños número 18 de un chico ceutí, la fiesta muy divertida, tocamos, tomamos, bailamos y nos fuimos.

Nos sigio l'agua l'agua l'agua a Ceuta
Nos sigio l'agua l'agua l'agua hasta Ceuta

Unos kms de viaje y llegamos a la frontera con Marruecos!!…donde estuvimos 3 horas con los trámites de aduana, como siempre faltaba un papel de la furgo, al final no pasó nada y entramos en territorio marroquí! Seguía lloviendo y decidimos ir a Tánger. La carretera se caía a pedazos, nos acordamos de todos los dioses de todas las religiones y gracias a ellos llegamos sin novedad al Parking Akram donde algunos de nosotros ya habíamos estado 4 años atrás. Algunos se quedaron durmiendo en los autos mientras Marco con Damien y Yazmín se fueron a Casa Barata a vender cosas en el mercado, donde conocieron a un señor que nos invitó a su casa a comer couscous y dormir a cambio de música. Al final no llegó a la hora acordada ni después así que las parejas durmieron en hostales y los solteros en los autos.

Tomamos la famosa sopa marroquí Harira!! Al día siguiente se volvió a vender en el Mercado y por la noche seguimos viaje a Tetuán.

***


Spontan entschlossen wir zu den nahegelegen heissen Quellen zu fahren wo wir ein paar Tage verbrachten, heisse Bäder, kalte Nächte und der erste Abschied: Noemie fuhr zurück in die Schweiz.

la loquilla suiza
la loquilla suiza

Von Granada wollten wir eigentlich relativ direkt nach Ceuta, blieben aber einige Tage in einem alten Hippiedorf ,Castellar de la Frontera“,mitten in den Bergen hängen, wunderschön,ziemlich verlassen,und wurden bei unserer Abreise vom Regen eingeholt der uns so schnell nicht wieder verlassen sollte…

Camping Castellar
Camping Castellar

Nach einem Tag Extreme-shopping“ (wobei viele von uns , sich mit Luftmatrazen und Klappzelten ausstatteten um das Zigeunerleben ein wenig luxuriöser zu gestalten) und Sturm nahmen wir nun die Fähre in Richtung afrikanischen Kontinen in Angriff, der zwar ein bisschen verzögert aber dann doch wahr wurde..und zwar auf eine sehr wellige Art und weise die uns mit grünlich-weissen Gesichtern aus dem Schiff steigen liess.

Mit der grossen Hoffnung ein vor einiger Zeit in Ceuta abgestelltes Auto abzuholen und damit ein wenig Platz in den Fahrzeugen zu schaffen suchten wir einen Platz zum Zelten, direkt am Meer, von dem man zurück auf Europa blicken konnte..einen entscheidenden Schritt hatten wir hinter uns…ein anderer entscheidender fehlte noch: der Grenzübergang nach Marokko und damit das wirkliche Verlassen der oxidentalen Welt.

Das erwünschte Auto reiste leider nicht mit uns weiter,an der Grenze mussten wir wegen Papierkram warten und bangen wurden dann aber schliesslich reingelassen..

Endlich AFRIKA!

Eine schreckliche Nachtfahrt durch Sturm und Regen, mit hinuntergestürzten Felsbocken auf der Strasse und ein wenig klappernden Zähnen brachte uns nach Tanger, wo wir zwei Tage zwischen Parkplatz und Marktplatz verbrachten und die ersten famosen Flohmärkte

stattfanden von denen uns Marco soviel erzählt hatte(die Brüder kannten es schon von der vorherigen Afrikareise).

marco pedro pistola
marco pedro pistola

Durch den Verkauf von „Krempel“ und Brillen finanziert fuhren wir weiter nach Tetuan.

***

Oops, we grossly underestimated the internet situation here in Morroco. Yes, we made it to Africa but we’ve taken an unintentional internet hiatus due to the limited (or nonexistent, mostly) connectivity. Now to catch you all up. Back to Granada ….

We didn’t do much tourism in Granada. Mostly we stuck to the main streets and plazas—the boys playing music and the girls selling CDs (I think only Noemi, Xelo, and Aymara actually saw the Alhambra)—but Gabriel, a very nice Uruguayan and fellow hippie bum from our Bedouin campsite invited us to some nearby natural hot springs up in the neighboring hills. Leaving the Subaru behind, we loaded up his and our van with humans and dogs and headed through terribly bumpy and unmarked dirt roads.

ITALIANOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
ITALIANOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

After setting up camp in the midst of dust clouds and olive trees, we followed the sulfuric scent through the night until we all ended up sans clothing and soaking in a deliciously scalding natural pool. Coincidentally, there happened to be a rave about half an hour’s walk from our campsite, and Carlos, Andres, el Perro (the other Andres), Xelo, Noemi, Aurelio and I went on an expedition to investigate. Fine, we wanted to get crazy one more time before crossing over to substance-abuseless l’Afrique. We ended up in what felt like a movie, for the characters that one tends to cross in a rave are truly unique works of art. Physical appearances apart, the mere fact that they actually enjoy and move strangely to the monotonous factory and machinery noise with no apparent rhythm was…educational. I think this was my first experience with not understanding an evolved genre of “music” and I actually felt old. At least we lasted until long after the sun had come out and somehow made the trek back to the campsite amidst a sudden infestation of hunters, clad in camoflauge and flanked by their packs of dogs, shooting at lord knows what (Pheasant? Grouse?? None of us saw a damn bird nor any other animal for that matter in any of the surrounding fields) but that’s another story. And there is video footage of the hunters in a rave ground if anybody is curious enough to want to see it….

Upon our return to Granada we found the Subaru safe and sound, camped one more night, and after we utilized our daily neighborhood bar to have our AM coffee, use the toilet, brush our teeth, and wash our faces (blessed Oscar, the owner of the bar. I ask you how many people out there would happily receive 12 dirty hippies who’d leave their bar and bathroom in shambles every day and still treat us to free coffees and pastries), we dropped Noemi off at the train station (she had to get back to Switzerland) and headed out that same afternoon.

Cafeteria Rodales, donde Oscar
Cafeteria Rodelas, donde Oscar

Because he had old friends there from a previous trip ten years prior, Marco had the grand idea of returning to Castellar de las Fronteras, an itty bitty little fairytale town characterized by a medieval fortress at the very tip top of a mountain. In theory it was a great idea—I would have never visited such a refreshing chunk of earth that doesn’t even appear on any roadmap. I deeply enjoyed a bit of solitude while exploring the virgin and tranquil surroundings. Rolling hills covered by forests of cork trees and curious rock formations, clean, refreshing air, gorgeous views of the surrounding valleys, lakes, and to the south, the strait of Gibraltar and the continent of Africa on the other side.

Castellar de la Frontera
Castellar de la Frontera

I say in theory because the town and its inhabitants did not live up to Marco’s memory; we were friendly to the townsfolk but they gave us the cold shoulder and lame excuses. When we asked if we could play a small concert in the only cafeteria/bar that we saw, the owner told us no, because she was sure nobody would come. I had never before seen such a sorry group of people, who they themselves admit that they used to be much cooler, much more fun, open minded and easy going, but now are unfortunately not—yet having acknowledged this, don’t seem to want to do anything about being so lame….

We reached Algeciras a few days later just in time to get caught in a catastrophic thunderstorm. We battled against the wind in an effort to erect some sort of shelter within a gathering of trees in a neighborhood outside of town. It was one of those enjoyable stressful moments in life that require quick thinking, communication, and coordination. That night probably wouldn’t have amused me so much had I known that it was the beginning of more precipitation woes to come. Now that I think about it, it has rained at least five days per week ever since then. The next day at the port of Algeciras we had to wait for the ferries to resume their trajectories, which they had cancelled in the meantime due to the bad weather.

waiting for a ferry after the storm
waiting for a ferry after the storm

Even still, the 45 minute crossing of the strait was about as bad as a mediocre day along the Drake Passage—the giant ship swelled back and forth, sending many green-faced passengers to the bathroom.

THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA!!! Yet we were still in Spain….for we found ourselves in Ceuta, which is a curious mix of arabian faces, dress, and customs yet speak and live like spaniards. We camped by the sea, showing off our last-minute european purchases that we had opted for in Algeciras before crossing over to Africa, such as two-second tents and air matresses. So what? Hippies get old and value practicality and comfort at some point of their lives, too!

Camp Quechua
Camp Quechua

The people of Ceuta were extremely friendly, and the guys played in the street for an eager crowd (and two very kind policemen) and were also hired on the spot by a wealthy individual to play at his son’s 18th birthday party that night. After the show we decided to hightail it to Tanger, Morroco, because the border crossing usually is less hairy during the early AM hours and Marco was already paranoid enough about entering with two recently acquired vehicles with european license plates packed with an excessive amount of junk, people, and a dog. That’s about when the hurricane-like winds and torrential downpour began again. I inched the Subaru along (what a warrior) through curtains of rain and pounding wind along the unlit and curvy road, swerving around automobile-sized boulders that had fallen onto the highway and other landslide-produced debris as well as cars driving on the wrong side of the road zooming towards me, which apparently is not uncommon in morocco, and other such obstacles that you don’t tell your mom about when you call home to tell your family how your trip has been so far. Six hours or so later, we miraculously reached a public parking lot in Tanger. I was so delirious and exhausted and extremely relieved (though not quite sure how I hadn’t killed anybody) that I passed out in the driver’s seat within minutes. Everybody was overcome with exhaustion after having been alert for so many hours, and we managed to sleep for a few hours.

Parking/Carping in Tanger
Parking/Carping in Tanger

The following day some of us set off to the souq (market) to make some money selling some of the stuff we had lugged from Swizterland, and that evening some of us (ok really it was the girls) agreed that since we had been in Spain not even 24 hours before, it should be our last day of thinking in euros and we shelled out the 40 dirham (4 euros) for a hostal room with TV. Hell anyways it was the first bed we slept in in a while and may be our last real roof in a while, we justified. The following morning after a hot shower and breakfast, we met everybody at 2 pm in the parking lot, repacked the cars, and set out en route to Tetouan.

II: BARCELONA – GRANADA

Pasamos la primera etapa del viaje, dejamos atrás Suiza y Francia , y llegamos el 11 en la noche a Barcelona, ciudad de la perdición para los Chantos!!!!.

Salimos de Toulouse el martes 11 y después de un largo viaje aparcamos en Barcelona a la 1 am, con comité de recepción. De ahí nos esfumamos para juntarnos una semana después con la tremenda resaca!!

BarcelokaBueno la verdad es que teníamos que esperar las 2000 copias de discos que habíamos encargado. Disfrutamos esta semana visitando a la familia barcelonesa. No hicimos ningún concierto porque el único previsto se canceló, el dueño del local Bamboo Bar, una rata miserable pagó 10€ a la banda de unos amigos la semana anterior. En nuestro único intento de tocar en la calle, al conectar la batería, Juán quemó el 3er amplificador del verano. Le empezó una depresión terrible, que se contagió a toda la banda. Resultó que nos pasamos la semana «weveando».

Juanita
Juanita

El martes 18, después de buscar los discos y 2 chicas más: Belen y Yasmín, que estaban esperando la caravana en Barna, cargamos los autos a lo máximo del límite, partimos de Barcelona 13 personas mas Aurelio, direción sur, Andalucía y nuestra próxima etapa : Granada.

Tardamos 2 días en llegar, acampada y asado en la carretera cerca de Murcia el primer día.

A la mañana, sorpresa !! pinchamos otra vez la rueda del carrito, pero por suerte nos dimos cuenta en el mismo momento en que estabamos entrando en una gasolinera (Estación de servicio Cascales), cerca de Jumilla. Para cambiar otra vez la cámara de aire necesitabamos herramientas, pero nos quedaba otra opción…poner la rueda de cambio que compramos en Francia y para ponerla hacía falta agrandar los agujeros. Los hicimos en la gasolinera misma, con la ayuda de los dueños, Angeles y Juán José, que nos prestaron las herramientas para poder limar los agujeros. Un par de horas después, seguimos direción Granada.

Team McGeyver
Team McGeyver

Granada por fín!! Llegamos el jueves en la noche, aparcamos donde pudimos, y esperamos a Ricardo,un amigo argentino de Aymara, que vive ahí desde hace unos años, haciendo malabares y clown en la calle. Al mismo tiempo, Marco y Andres fueron a hablar con una okupa cerca del parking. Los del okupa estaban re paranóicos porque era el aniversario de la muerte de Franco y tenían miedo de que los fachas los ataquen. Les dejaron un disco y quedaron de hablar al día siguiente para tocar en un concierto que estaban organizando, a ver si nos podíamos sumar. Al final cuando volvieron, ni los dejaron entrar, excusa : «demasiados hippies», pero no pasa gra-nada. Ricardo nos enseñó un lugar para acampar en un terreno vacío

El Camping ¨Los Gitanos¨
El Camping ¨Los Gitanos¨

al lado del polideportivo, ducha caliente en la mañana y también unos vecinos viajeros re simpáticos. Montamos el chiringuito!!(profechonalchirigo) como verdaderos gitanos.

Tocamos en la calle en la Plaza Nueva,

La Plaza Nueva, Granada
La Plaza Nueva, Granada

buén ambiente, hay mucha movida en la plaza, los espectáculos se siguen, músicos, payasos y malabares. Se mezclan turistas que andan por ahí llendo a la Alhambra, artistas, punkies y viajeros, con la gente de la ciudad, como una especie de oasis en el medio de Granada y después de eso a probar las tapas.

Tocamos otra vez en Plaza Nueva y luego fuimos al descampado a pasar otra noche, cuando Gabriel, uno de los vecinos con furgoneta nos propuso ir a una terma en la montaña a 15 kms del centro…

y nos vamos pa la terma…!!!!

***

Die Reise nach Barcelona schien unendlich,alle konnten es kaum abwarten dem ersten und einzigen kleinen Bandurlaub in die Augen zu sehen: Party, Freunde, Wiedersehen,so trafen auch wieder Belen und Yasmin in den Bandkreis ein um mit uns Richtung Sonne zu fahren.

Plaza del Trippi, BCN
Plaza del Trippi, BCN

Nach ein bisschen Erholung ging das harte Hippieleben weiter…

Drei Tage non-stop Reise, nachts Zelten mit Lagerfeuer wie sich das für vernünftige Hippies gehört kamen wir irgendwann in Granada an, wo wir auf einem leerstehenden Gelände unser Superzigeunerdorf einweihten: eine riesige Plastikplane(auf dem Fusion-Festival recycelt) zwischen den beiden Autos gespannt,wodurch eine Art Aufenthaltsraum entsteht,mit den Individual-,Gruppen- und Pärchenzelten aussenherum, Lagerfeuer als Kochstelle, Dusche im nahestehenden Sportzentrum als Jogger verkleidet..

El Tribu
El Tribu

Natürlich haben wir in Granada die Tapas nicht ausgelassen, sind von Bar zu Bar geschlendert, viel Strassenmusik, Spass..Granada ist eine wunderschöne Stadt, doch es sollte noch schöner werden..

Ay, Ellas!
Ay, Ellas!

***


This morning I awoke with the blazing sun hitting my face! Once the blue skies and warmth registered in my half-asleep brain, I scrambled to zip open the tent door and went stumbling and sprawling out onto the ground, stood up, and began dancing and singing in my underwear in homage to the Sun King and the surrounding snowcapped mountains. My underwear is really quite nice—a unique handmade piece made by one of Jasmine’s friends. (Jasmine has brought a huge box to sell along the way. But let me back up….

La Jasmine
La Jasmine

Our morning in Toulouse (11/11) consisted of hangovers, 50 cent coffee from an internet café, el Niño kindly removing me from the Subaru’s driver seat and insisting that he drive instead of me because he knows the way (having lived in Toulouse and all), then him driving more than 100 km in the wrong direction, setting us back a couple of hours. Good thing he knew the way.

We arrived in Barcelona at about midnight, and as is typical when the band lands in that insane city, everybody dispersed in different directions—to friends’ houses, to the hills, to the beach, etc., for each to do their own thing with old friends and forget about the band for a bit. Carlos, Aurelio and I slept in the van in a teeny town called La Colonia Güell for the first few nights. There in the morning I witnessed the usefulness of the Chanto currency (i.e. paying for things with CDs) when we went to a bar, consumed three coffees with milk, one beer, and a plate of sardines, passed the bartender a CD after a brief explanation of who we are and what we’re doing, asked for the bill, and the bartender exclaimed that nooooo, how was she going to charge us, the CD was payment enough. Excellent.

Vic y Nuri en la Colonia Guell
Vic y Nuri en la Colonia Guell

The Chanto currency has been used from paying for coffees and beers to bribing border police. It also is extremely useful when lacking lodging options—people are often eager to take you home with them in exchange for a present and amusing conversation with such interesting houseguests. During a South American tour Los Chantos were pulled over in Buenos Aires, Argentina, because according to the police they were going too slow in the fast lane. Or maybe it was because the police thought they could make some quick cash, for surely a bunch of dirty hippies in a beat up van must have something illegal on them.

Pobre Perrito
Pobre Perrito

All the same, the conniving musicians soon had sweet talked the policemen and showered them with gifts—CDs, posters, postcards—and not only did they not pay any fines for the respective offenses committed, but the cops also offered to hook them up with their hashish-selling police friends. Sigh, thou art crooked, sweet Argentina. The best part about bribing cops with CDs is pointing out «La Guardia Urbana» to them, track number 10 on the CD «Pero Mañana», which is a song dedicated to the Barcelona police squad in recognition of their malicious abuse of power. This portrayal of dominance is best displayed when beating up street musicians for not cowering in their presence or when fining them and taking their instruments—and sometimes without the musicians having been playing in the first place.

Michael, victim of instrument theft by police
Michael, victim of instrument theft by police

It is ironic because local authorities, seduced by the income produced by tourism to the city, have the intention of keeping the city «clean» – but in an effort to do so, they are killing the romanticism, bohemian lifestyle, and creativity of the very street-performing culture that drew tourists to Barcelona in the first place.

Bittersweet Barcelona Nightlife
Bittersweet Barcelona Nightlife

After a five day hiatus in «Barna» we loaded up again, this time with Belen and her big bad new camera and Jasmine and her loads of handmade macramé, glass jewelry, and underwear to sell. The first haul took us through the back roads somewhere past Valencia, where we unexpectedly found an abandoned house and happily set up camp. In the morning we unexpectedly found orange trees alongside our new house—breakfast and vitamins for everybody! That same day we ran into problems when we busted the other tire of Rogelio’s trailer and ended up stranded at a gas station for multiple hours.

Shit...
Shit...

The positive side is that somehow the tire held out (again!) until it found an opportune moment to lose all of its air. Honestly we were only getting off the highway to fill up with gas. The other plus is that now both of the trailer’s tires are new and durable.

That night we again made it to the middle of nowhere but this time somewhere past Murcia, and in the dark we set up a campsite and a delicious asado out of very limited provisions.

Asadito!

We passed around bottles of cheap wine, shared pieces of chicken, pork, potatoes, sang a bit, laughed a lot, and in the early AM hours, got rained on. Winter was on the move again and chasing us southbound. The landscapes we passed that afternoon brought back memories of South America—first as the rains dissipated, silhouettes of the surrounding hills resembled icebergs floating in the flat blue expanse of shapeless clouds. Soon, multicolored cliff faces and gorges carved out by raging rivers long dried out and dotted with cave entrances took me back to northern Argentina. To the left, a field of solar panels soaking up the sun rays. To the right, silent but giant windmills lining the horizon.

Go green go. And finally, the impressive and snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountains, painted a frosty pink due to the setting sun, came into view. Irreal.

We finally arrived to Granada the following evening. We still didn’t know where the blazes we were going to sleep but all of us were so claustrophobic

LETMEOUTLETMEOUTLETMEOUTLETMEOUT
LETMEOUTLETMEOUTLETMEOUTLETMEOUT

from being crunched up in the cars that we left the cars at the train station and went on a tapas tour around town to stretch our legs and to sample some Alhambra beer. That’s when we discovered that you can live off of 1.60 €, which buys you a beer and a generous and variable plate of food called a tapa.

Tapas Tour!
Tapas Tour!

Late at night we returned to the cars and were led to a huge field where we set up a super gigantic campsite that would make any Bedouin jealous. We parked the two cars about five meters apart, spread a giant tarp on the floor and another over the cars to make a roof, and constructed another tent in the entrance to create a sort of foyer. After a killer dinner of lentils with vegetables, everybody agreed that Jasmine should be the official head chef for the hippies. Everybody slept like babies, and the following morning we were greeted by beautiful blue skies and the warmth of the sun—(that’s when I went jumping around in my underwear)—today we’d have an opportunity to explore Granada and to earn some money.

At the office
At the office

Off to work!


***


Nous avons passé la première étape du voyage avec succes, laissant derrière nous la Suisse et la France, direction «España», on arrive dans la nuit à Barcelone, ville de la perdition pour les Chantos!!!!

On est parti le mardi 11 novembre de Toulouse, et après un long voyage on debarque à Barcelona à une heure du matin avec un petit comité de récption!!

Joda Barcelonesa
Joda Barcelonesa

On ne se reverra qu’une semaine plus tard. En fait il faut qu’on attende les copies des disque qu’on a commendées, 2000 disques en tout. Nous profitons de cette semaine pour visiter la famille barcelonaise. Aucun concert à Barcelone, le seul prévu est annulé, le patron du local Bamboo Bar, un peu radin,avait payé 10e à un groupe la semaine passée, nos amis décident de faire boycoter le bar par tous les groupes de Barcelone, solidarité oblige… Au cours de notre unique tentative de jouer dans la rue, Juan casse son 3eme ampli de l’année juste au moment où il connectait la batterie. Une dépression terrible l’attaque, qui se repend à tout le groupe. Ce fut une semaine très productive!!!!¡¡¡¡

Mariatxi Jam Session
Mariatxi Jam Session

Le mardi 18, après avoir chargé les disques, et deux filles, Belen et Yasmin qui attendait le passage de la caravane, on charge les véhicules à la limite du possible, on part enfin de Barcelone, ville de la perdition pour les Chantos, avec un total de 13 personnes plus Aurelio, direction le sud, l’Andalousie, et notre prochaine étape Granada…

Il nous faudra 2 jours pour arriver, camping et barcecue sur la route près de Valence le premier jour.

Acamparemos aqui, dijo el jefe
Acamparemos aqui, dijo el jefe

Le lendemain !!surprise¡¡on crève de nouveau la roue de la remorque, mais par chance, on s’en rend compte au même moment où l’on entre dans une station service, près de Jumilla. Pour changer la chambre à air on a besoin d’outils, mais il nous reste une autre option…mettre la roue de secours qu’on avait achetée en France. Et pour pouvoir la mettre, il nous faut agrandir les trous!!Nous réalisons l’opération dans la station service, avec l’aide des gérants, qui nous prêtent les outils necessaire. Deux heures plus tard, on continue destination Granada.

Granada, enfin, on arrive le jeudi dans la nuit, on se gare là où on peut, attendant à Ricardo, un ami argentin de Aymara, artiste de rue qui habite à Granada depuis quelques années. En même temps, Marco et Andrès vont parler avec les occupants d’un squat proche du parking.
Les squatteurs sont paranoiaques parceque c’est l’anniversiare de la mort de Franco et ils ont peur qu’attaquent des groupes fascistes d’extrême droite. Ils laissent un disque et leur donnent rendez-vous le lendemain pour discuter, comme ils organisent un concert le samedi, on pourrait jouer aussi?Au final, quand on repasse, ils ne nous laissent même pas entrer, explication, «trop hippies»!!!¡¡¡mais bon c’est pas grave. Ricardo nous a monter un endroit pour camper sans problème, à côté du stade «polideportivo»,

Una ducha improvisada

douche chaude au petit matin et aussi des voisins voyageurs super sympas. On monte le campement comme de véritable «gitanos». On joue dans la rue a Granada, sur la Plaza Nueva, beaucoup d’ambiance sur la place, les spectacles de rue s’enchainent, musiciens, clowns, jongleurs. Les touristes, les artistes, les voyageurs et gens de passages présent sur la place se mélangent avec les habitants de la ville, cela donne une impression d’oasis au milieu de la ville.

Granada Centre

Sans oublier de tester les tapas, pour chaque boisson une portion conséquente d’amuse gueule, compris dans le prix!! Le samedi, c’est l’anniversaire d’Aymara, sa copine est venue de Mallorque lui rendre visite. On joue de nouveau à la Plaza Nueva, et on retourne au camping passer une autre nuit quand Gabriel,

Gabriel el Uruguayo
Gabriel el Uruguayo

un des voisins en fourgonette nous propose une expedition jusqu’aux termes de la montagne, à 15 km de la…..

c’est parti pour les termes