Food to stay warm

Rabat-lighthouse After our lunch Cristian dropped me off by the lighthouse in Rabat. I strolled along the beach for a while and watched the fishermen. The sky was cloudy and the air cold. I’m wearing thick stockings and trousers, a t-shirt, shirt, fleecejacket and another jacket plus a big scarf. Still I’m cold every day. Morocco is nice when it’s sunny, but this cold is awful and inside the houses it’s even colder than outside. Lots of tea and warm soup helps for a while, but in the end of the day I’ve still been cold most of the time.

On my way home I stopped by a man selling vegetables off his carriage. A bundle of beetroots, a bundle of white beetroots, a bunch of dried figs and some ginger: six dirham, or fifty euro cents. That’s enough food for lunch And dinner for a very good price. That’s why I love shopping at the markets and small stands such as this one. It’s a great way to practice French and Arabic, plus here in Rabat there is no need to bargain. grönsakerYou’ll get the good price anyway. And another positive thing about couch surfing: you have access to a kitchen.
Dinner today: beetroot soup with ginger.

the rising sun

”Monica, Monica pssst are you awake?” it was 6:30 and my host stuck his head inside the room where I was sleeping. I got up and got dressed. He was taking me out for breakfast to watch the sunrise over Rabat.

I didn’t bring neither my phone nor camera so I can’t show you any pictures. But as the sun coloured the white, grey and brown walls orange the people came from their morning-prayer to have tea or  unpack delivers to shops. The streets smelled of yesterdays fish and the garbage bags were lying in every corner waiting to be picked up.

We sat down by a cafe close to the parking where Bartek and I almost exactly one year ago got into Manfreds car to drive through Western Sahara.
We had coffee and croissants.

Slowly, Rabat was awakening.

Africa, oh you dear love

”That’s Gibraltar. And you see the land next to it? That’s Africa.” Ana pointed to our left as we went down the coast of Spain.
We had half an hour left to Algeciras where she would drop me by the port.

The highway was nearly empty. ”It’s because you have to pay, the other road is full of cars. But it goes through the cities, traffic lights all the time.” she said. We talked about polices (when two suddenly stood there) and the crisis, work, surroundings… I’ve always said I need to become better at small-talk, and I think it’s slowly getting there.

In two hours I will be in Morocco. And my stomach is tickling with excitement. I’ve got a host waiting for me in Rabat and in a week I will be on the road to Mauritania.

Time to close this year

“But hitching didn’t die a natural death — it was murdered. And there’s little evidence that it was as dangerous as we think.”

Said the New York Times earlier this year. And during 2012 I have done a lot of hitch-hiking. My thumb has taken me traveling in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Zanzibar, Malawi and Zimbabwe. All in just one year.

Most of the experiences has been good, only one man turned out to be over-sexual (and of course it was in Switzerland, where else but in the rich of richness?). During the year I’ve met people born into slavery and refugees trying to get into Europe, but failing.

While sorting out old diary-notes lying around I found this piece:

“I was sitting behind him on his bike. He was going so fast down the hill I couldn’t bare keeping my eyes open. ‘There’s Malawi!’ he shouted. ‘What?’ I screamed back, slowly opening my eyes. ‘There’s Malawi!’ He screamed again and pointed at the lush green hills in front of us. I was awestruck.”

Three days later I found myself trekking up the hill to Livingstonia, monkeys chatting in the trees for company and an old man who spoke no English to show the way through the shortcuts. There was more climbing than walking and at one point my backpack pulled me down backwards, down the cliff, and balancing on a root and grasping for another one to cling to, I was ok and got myself back onto the track. I will never forget than nerve-killing moment.

2012 was also the year when I got malaria for the first – and hopefully the last – time of my life and nearly died. I’ve met the best couch surfing hosts I’ve ever had. I got a bachelor in journalism at the Mid Sweden University, freelanced for radio and magazines, got my heart broken for the first time and I buried my cat who’s been with me for sixteen years. I was homeless and spent five months on couches and mattresses at different friends. I also found a home, a place to which I want to return to after trip after trip.

And thanks to all of you who has read my blog. You who has been with me from the beginning, and you who dropped by during the year. Thank you. Now I look forward to a new year with travels, challenges and friends. Happy new year!