Sunday, July 22, 2012

Strait of Gibraltar

Things don't always go according to plan.

Friday as it were turned out to being an extremely stressful day. I was rushed out of the house to go to Natalia's mom's (no forewarning, just an "come on, hurry! We have to go now!") And then we went shopping for more drinks after hauling another few dozen boxes to her mom's. We eventually made it to her inlaws for lunch. To me it felt more like dinner because it was at 5pm. But it was delicious! We startedby having this thing that had some tuna, julienne carrots, potatoes, peas, corn, mayo, onions. It was served cold but was amazing. We that we had a salad of tomatoes and green peppers with onions and olive oil. Which was also amazing. There was also bread. Afterwards they brought out a massive plate of fried meat. I believe it was either pork or chicken but it was good. I'm a carnivore at home and so far in the last 2 weeks I've had meat 3 times. So I've really cut down on it and it's something that I'm craving. I keep thinking about beef strogonauf, that chicken with dijon mustard, BBQ steaks. It's pretty sad. Usually on longer trips these cravings end after the third week. Anyways, lunch was amazing but then I got in trouble for not bringing my swimsuit (it was in my pack at Natalia's moms and she never told me to bring it) so I couldn't go swimming with everyone. I played with one of their dogs instead, Copi. I think he's a poodle/lab mix. It's really strange. They also have half a dozen boxers (they just had puppies, hence why there's so many) I actually got offered a puppy over lunch. They wanted to give me one of their dogs. As tempting as that offer was I'm more of a cat person (speaking of which I think there's a cat nearby in my hostel... I keep hearing meows. Must find the kitty.) Anyway, so at Natalia's inlaws. I was basically left outside in the backyard for a few hours to bask in the evening shade (I was forbidden from sitting directly in the sun by Nacho's mom - she saw my burn earlier in the week). And yeah, I sat there and listened to their canary (there was also a chicken coop). At about 10.30 I was asked to help decorate the place for the wedding. Finally at around midnight Natalia and I left.

Now, on the way to her mom's Natalia tells me that I can't stay. With her mom on Saturday night anymore. I also couldn't stay with her. Apparently the wedding wasn't going to start until 6pm and would go on until 6am, 7am, 11am on the Sunday. She didn't know. I wanted to ctach the 8:30am train to Algeciras to get to my hostel for 8pm but it was looking like that wasn't going to happen. Natalia did suggest that I bring. My bags with me to the wedding and whenever somebody would leave to ask for a ride to the Villalba train station. I had no desire to be dropped off at a closed station at 2-3am nor did I want to start begging strangers for a lift. What if nobody said no? So then I thought maybe I'll just leave later for Tarifa. Saturday morning I got up at 9 and Natalia was heading out. She doidn't tell me where just she had stuff to do. A little later her mom leaves me there alone as well. It's at this point that I tell myself why bother staying? I don't want to complain too much because I don't want to give the wrong impression but I figured that it seemed like I. Was mostly being ignored all week and when Natalia was around she was either texting or on the phone. I came to Madrid to spend time with her so being ignored for most of it was disappointing. Yes she was busy with wedding stuff but she also invited me. Anyway, so while sitting alone at her mom's house with nothing to do I decided that when somebody shows up I'm gonna head to the Villalba train station to eventually get to the bus station to catch the 10 train to Algeciras. I texted Natalia to tell her that I was going to leave early and she didn't seem to care too much. Just gave me a "okay, bye!" So yeah, her mom finally showed up at around 2pm so I said goodbye and left. She did walk me a little towards the station and basically told me it was my fault for coming when they were so busy with the wedding. That was also upsetting since I was invited to it! On the way to the station I saw Nacho's mom and she looked genuinely upset that I was leaving early without going to the wedding. I said goodbye and was able to get to Madrid Atocha for 3 pm.

While at Atocha I decided to reserve my seat for the trip from Algeciras to Atocha for July 25th. While waiting in line I met a wonderful woman named Aastral who was on her way to Lisbon for a convention! We chatted and grabbed a coffee and exchanged facebook names. It was really nice to speak to somebody in English. Who actually fully undertstood. It's very tiring to constantly focus on what people are saying. To process everything and to think in another language that isn't fully instinctual yet. At around 4:30 we said our goodbyes (her train was leaving at 4:40) and I hopped onto the metro to the South Station of Madrid. I easily found where I had to buy my ticket and 30 euros later I was waiting on a bench for 4 hours. There are a lot of beggars at that station. I'm pretty glad I'll be returning via train. So my bus left at 10pm and was scheduled to arrive in Algeciras at 6am but it got there at 5am. Obviously nothing was open yet. Luckily I discovered that the train station is right next to the bus station! That will make my life easier on Wednesday. When I got to Algeciras the first stop was the port. The driver was nice enough to tell me that I didn't want the port.

At the actual bus station I met two guys, Allen and Mike who were on their way to Cadiz but had just come from Tarifa and and Tanger! Allen was Mexican. So he spoke Spanish fluently and that really helped. When the train station opened at 6am we went in and got directions on how to get into the bus station (which didn't open until 7). We hung out for a bit and they gave me tons of advice for Tarifa and Tangier. When the bus station opened I got my ticket to Tarifa. Just to clarify to get to Tarifa there are no trains. Just buses and boats. So I had to go to Algeciras first. To get back to Madrid I'll be bussing to Algeciras and then taking a train to Madrid. The bus trip from Algeciras to Tangier only took 30 minutes. It was the same bus as Allen and Mike's, so that was fun.

Finding my hostel was's about a 15-20 minute walk from the bus stop and. It's right next to the port (another 5-10 minute walk). The entire city looks tiny, maybe a tad bigger than Orvieto. Tarifa is also the most southern part of Spain (excluding the Canary islands). On a clear day you can see the coastline for Morocco across the sea. There's guided day tours of Tangier for 50 euros. It costs 60 euros for a return trip so the tour's a great deal. Tarifa is also located between the Antlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea. So depending on where you are in the city you'll see either the sea or the ocean. While looking at the map it looks like there's 10 must sees in the city. All within walking distance and two of these places appear to be castles. There are also whale watching tours. One is orca's and the other is whale/dolphins. Tarifa is known as a getaway city for spaniards. It's a city of surfers. I saw so many kite surfing shops on the way to the hostel. This looks like an amazing place to spend a few days. Plus the hostel seems to be amazing! It's this lovely white spanish style house. So gorgeous! Unfortunately I can't actually get to my bed until 2pm. I'm dying for a shower so I'll have to wander the streets for a bit until then. There is a storage place for my pack so at least I don't have to carry everything with me the whole time. My flight leaves Thursday morning from Madrid.

Unfortunately Natalia said I couldn't stay with her Wednesday night (told me at the same time as the Saturday night thing) so I have to either find a hostel for Wednesday night or just spend a night in the airport. I'm opting for a hostel hopefully. Guess that's about it. I'm gonna vegetate a little longer on the couch in the common area before venturing forth into the gorgeous city of Tarifa!

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