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Pamplona, Spain; KM 58,940 August 17, 2009

Posted by marcusbest in Uncategorized.
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My African dream has ended, and I wake to the sounds and smells of Andalucia. Crisp clean cotton sheets, olive oil, mopeds negotiating narrow cobblestone streets, espresso, and cool Mediterranean breezes. It´s another world, another chapter.

After a vicious sandstorm in Mauritania that stripped the paint from the windward side of Jesse´s frame, we crossed into Morocco. Following the coast northward, cool winds from the Atlantic kept the desert heat at bay, but we eventually had to turn inland. The change of temperature was so sudden that I felt like I had walked out of the air-conditioned United grocery store in Snyder, Texas and into the scorching summer heat. But the dessert heat of Morocco seemed to originate in the wind, as if someone was holding a hairdrier only a few inches from my face. The 115 degree heat (48 Celsius) was all-consuming, and it was difficult the think of anything but the quickest route back to the coast. We eventually made it to the picturesque and significantly cooler seaside town of Esouaira. The village was so clean, the supermarkets so stocked, and the food so varied and delicious that I felt like I had suddenly escaped Africa, similar to the transition from the central into the southern part of the continent and into South Africa. Over the next week, I weaved my way up through central Morocco and the Atlas mountains, particularly enjoying wandering through the old medinas of Marrakech, Fez, and Chefchouan.

I like old doors, and there are plenty of old doors in Morocco . . .

door; Esouaira, Morocco

door; Esouaira, Morocco

door; Essouira, Morocco

door; Essouira, Morocco

door; Essouira, Morocco

door; Essouira, Morocco

door; Chefchouan, Morocco

door; Chefchouan, Morocco

the cool blue medina of Chefchouan, Morocco

the cool blue medina of Chefchouan, Morocco

dyed sheepskins laid out to dry

dyed sheepskins laid out to dry

vats for dying leather; Fez, Morocco

vats for dying leather; Fez, Morocco

dying leather

dying leather

Jewish cemetery; Fez, Morocco

Jewish cemetery; Fez, Morocco

For much of West Africa, simply making it from point A to point B was a challenge. Finding food and fuel, driving for much of the day, then finding a place to sleep required all of my energy, my full attention. Traveling in Europe is a completely different experience. The roads are paved, there’s a gas station around every corner, and I don’t have to haggle before every purchase; life is easy. Also, I have met quite a few Europeans on this trip, and many of them have invited me to stay with them when I pass through Europe, so I feel like I’m on a lazy vacation visiting old friends. Another world, another chapter.

the Alhambra, overlooking Granada

the Alhambra, overlooking Granada

plaster wall; the Alhambra, Granada, Spain

plaster wall; the Alhambra, Granada, Spain

a sample of Gaudi's architecture; Park Guell, Barcelona

a sample of Gaudi's architecture; Park Guell, Barcelona

the Spanish Pyrenees

the Spanish Pyrenees

A few days in northern Spain was like being back home. The climate, the size and shape of the mountains, the cold clear lakes, the vegetation, and the smells remind me of the Sangre de Cristo mountains of New Mexico.

A noisy knock in the engine can sneak up on you. Because I am listening to the motor every day, a hardly audible click can turn into a clack, a ping, and then a knock without my noticing. I guess it’s a bit like watching children grow; you don’t notice the change as much if you’re with them every day. During my trip to Tierra del Fuego a few years ago, I ignored a loud clanging in the engine for too long, resulting in a snapped valve and a hole in the piston. I don’t want to make that mistake again, but if the engine requires a major overhaul, I would like to have it done in the motherland, Germany. Here in Pamplona, things worked out as they often do; a French motorcycle engineer stopped to ask about Jesse and my trip. His coworker at the Ducati shop knew the guru of classic BMWs in Pamplona, and within an hour, the guru was listening to the knocking that had worried me for so long. He confidently diagnosed the problem and said I should be able to make it to Germany without a problem. He guessed that the pistons had deformed slightly due to overheating, probably in the extreme heat of Mauritania and Morocco, where I began to notice the knocking. So I’ll soon cross into France, make a short loop through northern Italy, then continue northward towards Jesse’s birthplace.

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Comments»

1. Jerry Vestal - August 17, 2009

WOW. When I think of all that you’ve seen and learned, WOW.

Can’t wait to see what you can do leveraging your “debt” in gratitude.

2. JTB - August 17, 2009

Hi Marcus,

We just looked at your latest entry. We saw the blue door pictures and all the others.

Mommy, Elizabeth, Julia and I are having fun in Snyder. We go home tomorrow.

Love,
tommy

3. pokryfka - August 22, 2009

the doors look cool! how many liters of perol you use per 100km? I found I had to carry a few plastic bottles with some extra fuel with me in south-west Tanzania

4. Lukas Brey - August 22, 2009

Hey Marcus,

I see on your map, you are very close to Bavaria, the bithplace of Jesse. Do you know when you arrive in the south of Germany? You are hearty wellcome.
Do you still play the gittar?

I´m looking forward to meet you.

Best wishes
Lukas

5. rapatrie - August 24, 2009

bonjour marcus B…!
tu es pass nimes le lundi 24. aot 2009. et tu as fais le plein d’essence ta “”BMW””
je suis le mr JEAN .JACQUES QUI T’AS PRIS EN PHOTO …ok ?

tu es dans mon blog voir =
http://roadandtruck.canalblog.com

tu as fais de beaux voyages ! bon retour chez toi au texas ! et bons souvenirs du “”sud de la france “”

6. flipuhbitch - August 24, 2009

Dogon looks amazing! Love the pic. with the little girl and the Gaudi architecture.
Missed you at Sam and Kates wedding! It was absolutely beautiful, and S n K looked stunning!
Hope all is well with you friend.
Pace,
El Rito.

7. iza,kamil - August 29, 2009

hey
African dream ended; you must miss it already…..cool door pics.
We got to Guinee already. Keep in touch.
cheers.

8. Kelly - April 7, 2010

Hi Marcus

I am a painter in South Africa and doors are my favourite subject. Would you mind if I painted some of your photos, they are fabulous.

marcusbest - April 19, 2010

Of course, you may paint my photos. I appreciate the complement.

Marcus


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