Day 261: Homeward Bound

4 April 2011

Location: Casablanca (Morocco) to Ronda (Spain)

Rolling into Casablanca though complete carnage was somewhat iconic.  It has long been on the itinerary and sits alongside Moscow, Beijing, Singapore, Sydney, Auckland and New York as a key mile stone for the expedition. It’s hard to describe the level of satisfaction or indeed relief, as with most experiences on this trip, it’s simply too out there to comprehend.

High Point:  Crossing back into Europe

Low Point: Feeling sick from exhaustion. The afternoons for some reason are hurting the most. I would never want to wish away experiences of a lifetime but I can’t wait get reacquainted with my bed in Wimbledon.

No Point: The complete and utter driving inability of people in Morocco. With under a week left on the expedition the panic was beginning to set it as it seems the longer you drive in Morocco; having a loony drive into you becomes inevitable.

Confused Point: Amy has been on the road for 5 months and is still looking as fresh as when she left. Is she is a fembot?

Camp Freddy: Setting up camp at almost 1am is just plain silly

Hanging on too tight: Pesky kids taking Back to the Future too far, hanging off the back of the truck in Tanger.  Unfortunately our lovingly made ladder protectors were confiscated by Australian quarantine

Homeward bound: Smashing around the streets of Casablanca we felt so far removed from home it seems crazy to think we will actually be home soon. Casablanca is so different to what we know I honestly felt like I was the other side of the world. Our route back towards the port today gave us a little bit of everything. A quick fire recap if you will… a touch of Russia with the ridiculous local drivers; back to Kazakhstan and Mongolia with smashed up lanes with more animals than cars on them; a desert reminiscent of Arizona USA; rolling hills of New Zealand; tunnels and bridges like China and a funky port similar to New Jersey.

Navigator for the day ,Mehul, contested throughout our trip to “mini Kazakhstan” today that we were in no way lost, just that we had taken a slightly different route to the norm. For love nor money we couldn’t find our way back to the main road and instead had a unique experience through small village after small village. During a village traffic jam (of sheep) James thought it would be cool to capture the moment on film, only to be stopped by a few semi-important looking fellas. Like elsewhere in the world it begins with suspicion on both sides. We try and work out who on earth (and how important) they are and they attempt to fathom what on earth a silly red truck is doing in their country. Our strategy as per normal is to all get out, smile like crazy and befriend the officials. A big smile and positive vibe is universal and not let us down yet. Whether it be the fire engine, the tired looking faces or the aura of the project, we often leave what starts as a rather tricky situation pretty much exchanging addresses for Christmas cards.

Stage 9 is the mile monster. Matching stage 1 for its gigantic chunk of distance in limited time. Today was no different, leaving just before 9am and arriving until gone midnight. Exiting Morocco was pretty straight forward and the last time Martha would pass through a non European border.  I can’t stress enough how difficult and ridiculous it is that we managed to get Martha over some of the toughest borders in the world. This part of the challenge is over and I am extremely proud of how we succeeded. With the help of so very many people it was the most significant team challenge we faced. With great cost, time, and often cheek, we succeeded where many have failed.

James often speaks nonsense but for once his words really hit home. As the ferry sailed towards mainland Spain in the dark, James said such a moment really makes him feel like an explorer. Well in all honesty it should. We may not be on par with the pioneers of exploration and finders of new worlds, but exploring our world in a very special vehicle for a very special cause is a very a special form of exploration. An expedition kept on the road everyday by good will everywhere. An impossible challenge made possible by moments of enormous generosity every day of the 260 days thus far.  An exploration of good old human spirit.


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