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The ride to Marrakesh is just a slog on the multi-lane autostrada. Complete with tolls, fast food and expensive fuel. The road is so like every other toll road in the world that you have almost no idea that you are in Morocco.

To make matters even more universal, when the autostrada dumps us into Marrakesh the streets are wide multi-lane boulevards with speed bumps and stoplights. Not what I expected Marrakesh to be. That ends as the GPS tries to find the Ibis hotel that we are considering staying in for the night.

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It’s only a slight drizzle when we leave after breakfast. We are headed for the fables Marrakesh but first we must get to the car which back up the cobbled street. Up isn’t actually an adequate word for the climb back to the parking area.

Because it was raining and we were a bit lost when we entered the walled city, we were concentrating more finding Casa Miguel where we were hoping to spend the night than the sheer steepness of the walkway down into the town. Now on the way back up out of the town, I think we probably should have roped up on the way down. There is nothing more embarrassing the getting killed on descent. (An old climber truism.)

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We’re up at 6:30 and at the car at 7:00. It’s still dark but weather has come in over night and it’s raining and quite windy. Now, in addition to wondering if the car will start (we expect it to since it’s cooled overnight), we’re wondering if the 9:00 ferry to Tangier will run. The 6:00 ferry did depart but the weather is expected to deteriorate as the day goes on. Ah, the joys of adventure travel.

The car does start. We pack up and follow into a small convoy of fellow travelers on the way to the Tarifa ferry port. The road to the center of Tarifa follows the hills up then down into the center. It dark. There’s not much traffic but the road is very twisty and, in some places, quite slippy. Down the other side into town. Follow the map on the phone to the port and get in line.

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Out to the car and try to start it. It starts fine which is what has been the usual, it starts fine when it’s cold. We turn of the engine, wait a few minutes and try to re-start the engine. Nothing, zip, nada.

Another Challenge member, Angela, works in Gibraltar but leaves here in Tarifa and she’s given us a few leads on mechanic shops so we start a search and find a likely candidate.

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We leave Salamanca with Clemo driving. Clemo didn’t shut off the engine when he arrived and parked in a car park next to the railroad station. He’s going to drive out of town and then hand the driving over to me. He’s driven solo for over 600 miles and he needs a break.

We stop at a truck stop on the Aotuvia for some fuel and lunch (they hadn’t had lunch yet.) We leave the car running, lock the car and get a spot at the front of the cafe so that we can keep an eye on the car.

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1/14/2023, Salamanca – I’m still asleep at 9:30 when I get a call from Clemo. The car has started. There’s also a change of route plans: gthey want to pick me up in Salamanca rather than Madrid and, not surprisingly, there’s a bus from Madrid to Salamanca. “That work for you?” “Sure. C’ya in Salamanca.”

After bit more chatter, I open open the laptop and start looking for bus tickets to Salamanca. It turns out there’s not much available that doesn’t get in after 10PM. Ugh. I don’t want to spend another day wasting time in Madrid and then having to travel. I’d much rather travel now and waste time later in Salamanca.

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1/12/2023 – Still in Charlotte. Hope early. In the car with Barbara. Off to the airport. Not much traffic (at least by Charlotte early morning standards. There’s no line at the Delta counter. (I must be way early. I am.)

Board just before 9 and depart a few minutes early. On the flight to DTW, a flight attendant comnes down the aisle with a gift back of snacks (“for the 5 hour wait in DTW”) and an apology for yesterday’s cluster-f*&k. (That’s never happened before!) Arrive DTW about 30 minutes early. Wait 5 hours for flight to Amsterdam.

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April 23rd is celebrated in the UK as St. George’s Day, celebrating the Christian saint who defeated a dragon to save a princess from human sacrifice. Yes, Roman soldiers who would someday become Christain saints did things like that back then around 300 AD. You don’t see so much of that anymore.

But things did not go well for the soon to be St. George. When he refused to persecute Christians in 303 AD he was tortured and killed in what is now Palestine. They still do that today in what is now known as Palestine. Not kill Christians so much, more torture and kill people. You can find out more here or here . What all this has to do with us is today’s post.

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One of the reasons for the route passing through Kitulgala was that this small town on the river has a number of “adventure” attractions like river rafting and ziplines. Before we leave, some of us have signed up for both the zipline and the river raft. Others, me included, have only signed on for the zipline.

“goin’ down to the river…”

The “fixer” who seems to have contacts with everyone in this small town, has arranged for a truck to take us to the start of the zipline. It turns out to be just a few hundred meters up the road and we could have walked but with “cat herding” in mind, the fixer probably thought it would be more efficient to load these Brits who had nearly drunk to town out of beer the night before into a truck to get them to the start of the zipline in real time.

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Clemo had a bit of a time finding us a hotel in Rakwana. There aren’t a lot there and none of the ones that was able to contact had enough rooms or beds for the entire group. The best he could do was a place called the Sanctuary which is a lovely place but didn’t have enough beds so some of us ended up sleeping on mattresses placed on the floor. Whatever.

It isn’t as though we’ve been sleeping on feather beds on this trip anyway. The truly important questions were satisfied, though. Plenty of beer. A pool. Plenty of beer. And petrol for us delivered to the hotel. It turns out that the hotel owner also owns the petrol station I stopped at in town. And I can attest that sleeping on the on the mattress on the floor was just fine, thank you.

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