Ultimate Freedom Part III: This is Africa
While typing these lines I’m leaning back in seat 33E on United Airlines flight UA114 from Tahiti/French Polynesia to San Francisco/USA and just ordered my second Gin Tonic while the sun is rising between the clouds somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. You might think: wait – in the last blog post you´ve written about crossing the african continent in an old Land Rover and now you´re sitting in an airplane at the other side of the world?!“ – But let me start at the beginning:
After three months on the coastlines of France, Portugal and Spain with heaps of waves and good times, we took the ferry from Algericas/Spain to Tanger/Morocco, just a few days before Christmas 2018. The rough plan was to cross and explore the huge desert areas along the Algerian border before heading ocean-bound to the region around Agadir in mid-January to meet Joe from SurfEars and his Australian buddy Sam to film for a new surf-movie project.
After a big welcome breakfast prepared on the Land Rover´s hood, we checked the surf-forecast for the surrounding breaks and decided to drive north towards Tamri, because the Taghazout area looked quite flat, which is actually unusual for this time of the year – normally it´s pumping in winter. The drive from Taghazout to Tamri along the beautiful and scenic coastal road passes legendary breaks like Anchor Point, Killer Point, and Boilers to the long sandy bay of Tamri. Right before Tamri, Sam spotted a beautiful A-frame breaking down by the cliffs and we decided to give it a try. The wave was only accessible with 4×4 drive, required a short climb down some cliffs and an epic paddle out through a cave which is only accessible at low tide. These circumstances definitely keep the crowds away, so we had a sweet first session with an empty line-up.
Due to the mediocre forecast for the next days in the area around Agadir we decided to head south towards Western Sahara, which is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world and according to the United Nations considered as a, non-self-governing territory“ under controversial Moroccan administration, mainly consisting of desert flatland and a long coastline with many yet unexplored and remote breaks.
On the way down south, we spent some days in Mirleft, Sidi Ifni and Tan Tan. Crowds, infrastructure, and traffic is getting less the further we´ll come south. In Mirleft and Tan Tan, we had the main-breaks for ourselves – and even if the conditions were small and far from perfect, we had fun sessions, heaps of good times and filmed a lot for our movie-project. And although the surf was just average, it never got boring, because living on the road with 4 people in a Land Rover Defender always holds certain tasks for everybody: setting up the camp, preparing breakfast or dinner, doing the dishes, driving, spot-checks, keeping the mess in the car on a reasonable level and taking care of a sufficient supply and stock of chocolate chip cookies – just to name a few.
And suddenly it happened right before crossing the border to Western Sahara – after rolling away from a police checkpoint in the desert our gearbox started to make a horrible noise and we immediately lost some gears. Gearbox problems in the middle of nowhere are generally not the best requirements for further southbound adventures, so we decided to try to reach back to Agadir with the remaining gears to repair it there. Later the same day my Mum called me from Germany to tell me that my Grandfather´s health condition is getting dramatically worse and he´s in the hospital with a very bad diagnosis. We spent the next day with a lot of phone calls and discovered Agadirs diverse and exciting world of junkyards and garages, where I tried (with my almost non existing-french skills) to find somebody who could help me to fix the gearbox – of course with gestures, the good old „drawing in the dirt“ method and loads of hugs and smiles. Unfortunately this day I was not able to find a sufficient solution but at least I learned the Arabic expression for, no problem“. The search continued the next day and Grandpa´s situation got worse. After long times back and forth and weighing up all potential solutions we decided to interrupt our journey and flying back to Germany to take care of my grandfather. In the meanwhile, the car was loaded on a truck and shipped home to Munich. We arrived back home mid-February and after a very intense and valuable week with the family, my grandfather died peacefully surrounded by the people he loved most.
Things in life will always turn out different than expected, dreamed or planned. In this last week before my grandpa died, I spent more quality time with him and my family than in the decade before – I´m very grateful for this. And with a certain distance and different perspective, originally bad things or fears can turn into good things which you´ll never expect or even think about beforehand. So thanks Grandpa for being my hero when I was a kid.
After two weeks in cold Germany and some brainstorming about our upcoming travel-plans we decided to leave the car at home for the next months and headed to New Zealand and French Polynesia at the beginning of March. Things I would have never even dreamed about during our time in Morocco.