View from the top of Old Man of Coniston hike in Lake District National Park, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Preston, Lancashire, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Wyke, West Yorkshire, England on May 29th!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Dirty. Uncomfortable. Amazing!

When we left you yesterday, we had just boarded the iron ore train in Mauritania, Africa headed west from Choum to the Atlantic coast at Nouadhibou.

The train travels at between 35 to 40 km/h (22 to 25 mph). With a distance of 400 kms (248 miles), and several short stops along the way, it should take around 12 hours to get to our destination. But certainly none of that is written in stone.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

The main event... the iron ore train!

Friday evening was the main event! The reason we came to Mauritania was to ride the iron ore freight train through the Sahara Desert. We were all pretty excited about it.

We had most of the morning off to do our own thing. Internet access was actually pretty good while we were in Chinguetti. But only because I had bought a SIM card when we had arrived in Mauritania, and there was a 4G high speed tower nearby. So we took advantage of that and got caught up on some internet stuff.

Friday, January 27, 2023

A beautiful desert oasis in Mauritania

I tried googling the most beautiful oases in the world. A few lists of them came up, but nowhere did I see mentioned the one we went to on Thursday. Truly stunning. And it's not mentioned anywhere because hardly anybody knows that it exists.

The day started when we hopped into the 4x4's again and headed back into the desert.

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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Four wheel drive adventure in the Sahara Desert

On the road Wednesday morning at 9:00am with five Toyota Hilux 4x4's for our group. 

We did five full hours of crazy desert four wheel driving! It was totally fun and I really enjoyed it. Some of the group rode in the back of the trucks if they chose to. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Our first Sahara Desert oasis

We were told that we would be on the road at 7:30am Tuesday morning with a full day of driving ahead of us to get to the Terjit Oasis. So in preparation for that, we were up at 5:45am and had a quick breakfast with the group between 6:30 and 7:00. 

For our group, we were 18 people... plus our leader Johnny, so we had a minivan and two Toyota Hilux four wheel drives. And three drivers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Not exactly the nicest capital city in the world

Among travelers who go to out of the way places, Nouakchott, the capital city of Mauritania, is well known to be the worst capital city in the world. 

Sandy, dusty, dirty, trashy. With very few attractions. And no alcohol.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Introduction to the group

The rest of the group arrived at various times overnight, some as late as 4:00am. We went down for some breakfast at 8:30am or so and there still wasn't anybody up yet. But, we met everybody gradually as they came down over the next couple of hours.

Ruth and I wanted to go back to the ATM. We forgot that we were going to have to pay for our room in cash. Then we wanted to find a SIM card for the phone, and do some shopping to find some snacks that we can take on the trip.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

First day in Nouakchott

We had only got to bed at 2:30am the night before, but still managed to get up around 8:00am feeling not too bad. By 9:00am we headed down for some breakfast. 

Mauritania was a French colony until 1960, and there is still some of that influence remaining. So what was for breakfast? Croissants!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Welcome to Mauritania... country number 58

A great way to start off a new year is by visiting a new country! Mauritania is country number 58 for us. There will be a few more new countries to add to the list during 2023. It's going to be a great year!

We didn't arrive here until well after midnight, so we really haven't anything to show you yet. However, we do need to tell the story of how we got here!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Today, we are off to Casablanca Airport!

Interesting place where we have been staying the last three nights. The guy who owns it is originally from Germany, but he married a Moroccan lady and he's been living here for 23 years. But his wife likes the city better, so she spends most of her time there, and he spends most of his time here in the countryside.

Another van showed up the other evening. A younger couple from the Netherlands. Just before lunch on the rainy day, our German host invited us all in for soup.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

More detail about our trip to Mauritania

Yesterday was a rain day here in Morocco, so now is a good time to tell you a little more about our upcoming trip to The Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

Mauritania is one of the least visited countries in the world. That's actually one of the reasons I wanted to go there! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

I did not have a plan B

We really would have liked to have stayed one more night in the cherry orchard. Really nice folks running the place. When we left, they were trying to refine our pronunciation of some of the Arabic phrases we've been making an effort to learn... but without much success. At least we all had a good laugh about it.

We've pretty much got one sentence down pat... "Assalamu Alaikum" which directly translated means, "may peace be with you", but it's essentially used as "hello". Of course we could just say "bonjour" because 90% of the locals also speak French.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Time to head to lower elevations!

We waited until the sun came up over the mountain at about 10am, then set off walking uphill towards the cedar forests. We planned on about a 10 km (6.2 mile) return walk directly from the campground, and gaining another 300 meters (1,000') or so in elevation.

It was chilly, only calling for a high of about 13C (55F) but with clear blue sky and sunshine, and no wind to speak of. Quite comfortable for hiking uphill.

Monday, January 16, 2023

We were sure he was going to tip over!

We headed over to the big city of Meknes (population 650,000), but there really wasn't anything we wanted to see there so we took a route that avoided much of the city to get to the southern outskirts where there is a big modern shopping center with a big Marjane superstore.

Got there just before 11am on Sunday morning, and it was pretty quiet. Tons of space in the huge parking lot.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

It obviously doesn't bother them or they would do something to fix it.

We had a relaxing morning, and then set off on a hike up the hill behind the campground. We didn't really have any kind of destination, just to get some exercise and see if we could find some views along the way.

Up on a paved road to the town of Moulay Moustapha El Hamdouchi (that's a mouthful!) and then a dirt track to the top.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Who knew there were Roman ruins in Morocco?

Yesterday morning we said goodbye to our hosts at the little farm stop restaurant. Such nice people. The father insisted we see his simple family home before we left, so we followed him up for a tour. 

I did not take photos, but it was pretty basic. One entrance room, one sitting room with a big homemade couch that lined all the walls, one bedroom for the adults and the two kids, and a kitchen. But it was clean and comfortable, although I did not see any heat source for chilly mornings.

Friday, January 13, 2023

A much better experience

Yesterday morning, a lot of the vans at the campground at Chefchaouen had moved out. By the time we got Max ready to go at 11:00am, it was half empty. Definitely, the best time to arrive at a new place is between noon and 2:00pm when you'll have the most choice of spots. 

We only had an hour and a half drive ahead of us to our next destination.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

We're always impressed when we meet single women traveling alone

They were calling for another blue sky day, but the morning sure didn't turn out that way. Still, it was perfectly fine for a hike, so off we went.

I had seen a route up the mountain behind Chefchaouen, and there were a couple of viewpoints listed, so we headed up to get a view of the city down below.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The blue city of Chefchaouen

First order of business yesterday was to get a Moroccan SIM card. There are three different providers here. Maroc Telecom apparently has the best coverage, including into Western Sahara. But I've read that Inwi has an unlimited plan available. 

We walked down into the more modern part of town. We went to the Inwi store first. It was supposed to open at 10am, but it was five after and there was nobody around. A little ways down the street, we found the main outlet of the Maroc Telecom store and went in there.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Welcome to Morocco!

That was an interesting day! It's always an adventure crossing a border, but even more so when you're doing it by ferry. But overall, it went really smoothly. 

Written on our ticket booklet was the ferry departure times. It said 4am, 10am, 4pm and 10pm. We wanted to be on the 10am ferry and had read that it was best to show up at least an hour and a half ahead of departure.

Monday, January 9, 2023

We are off to Morocco!

It poured with rain pretty much all day yesterday. It had been in the forecast so we knew it was coming, but I think we got far more than they were expecting. 

We only had three things on the agenda for yesterday... cash, laundry and propane.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Busy day yesterday!

We did the short drive yesterday morning from Jimena de la Frontera to the port city of Algeciras (pop 121,000). 

We had a list of things we needed to accomplish. First stop was at a motorhome service point along the way, but it was quite busy with other motorhomes. We waited and watched for ten minutes or so, but the people using it weren't moving too fast and it looked like it was going to take a while.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Beautiful drive down through the mountains

We could definitely spend more time in this area. From Ronda down through the mountains to Jimena de la Frontera is absolutely gorgeous. It's only about 60 kms (36 miles) but it took us an hour and a half because of stopping at viewpoints along the way.

It's a twisty curvy mountain road, but it's in good condition and fine for a motorhome.

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Friday, January 6, 2023

Preparing for Morocco, and views around Ronda

We arrived in Ronda before lunch, doing the drive straight through from Archidona. We figured if we stopped along the way we might get sidetracked again, which tends to happen to us.

Ronda is a big tourist spot, and there are lots of campervans and motorhomes here as well as other tourists. We had no trouble finding a decent free overnight spot though, located across from a new Lidl store.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

There's too much to see along the way!

Once again we didn't get as far as planned. But, we sure managed to get some exercise!

There's just too much to see and do in Spain. It's like every little town along the way has some kind of attraction. We could easily spend a full year just exploring Spain.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

The story about the ringing bells

Yesterday I mentioned that when we were in Granada there was a constant lineup of people ringing the bell at the tower of the Alhambra. And that the bell rang all day and you could hear it from pretty much anywhere. It was kind of annoying.

Well I just couldn't see that being the case every day, so Ruth did some research.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

A day in Granada, Spain

The main attraction in the city of Granada is the Alhambra... an Islamic Palace built on a hill overlooking the city. The history of the Alhambra goes back to the 9th century, although most of the current structures were built between the 14th to 16th centuries.

My father had visited the Alhambra in November of 1954, and had taken two photos, both of which we were trying to match up.

Monday, January 2, 2023

A few details about our upcoming trip to Mauritania

Yesterday we drove into the big city of Granada (pop 250,000). There are no ideal places to park to explore the city, but the best option is a fenced compound that is trying it's best to be a campground. But really, it's just a gravel parking lot for motorhomes. 

It's €12 ($17.50 CAD, $12.75 USD) a night without electric so it's not cheap for what you get. But, it's a safe place to leave Max while we go explore the city today.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

We were not successful

Happy New Year to you all!

Friday night had been spent in the big parking lot at Guadix. Not a bad night, considering it's just a big parking lot. Maybe a dozen other vans spread around. Not very scenic, but we were only there for the convenience of visiting Guadix. 

But I had seen a sign that said there is a Saturday market in the parking lot.