Struggle to Tarifa


What is the project?


Tarifa is the most southern point in Spain. We`ve been in a campground 5 kilometers outside town for a couple of days now. On the first day, we made our way to Tarifa along the beach. Extremely strong wind made our legs feel sandbrushed, and therefore we`re now using our bikes to get to Tarifa, day after day.


For days now we`ve been working on our website. We`re there when the internet cafe opens up, until siesta and again in the afternoon and the evening. Now it`s almost done and we hope you like the result. We are not planning to have this much work every month. Hopefully the basics are ready now. Anyhow, it would make us bankrupt since the internet costs 2 euro`s per hour.


Cotton Tile
Producing cotton


In Tarifa we are also taking the time to get other things ready for Africa. We`ve been trying to buy dollars and traveller`s cheques. Neither one of them is possible in Spain if you do not have a Spanish bank account. Luckily we found our Dutch camping neighbor willing to buy dollars for us in Gibraltar and for traveller`s cheques we will look in Tanger tomorrow. We will make the step to Africa tomorrow, in case our package from Holland arrives today. It was shipped nearly two weeks ago, but mailing things from Holland to Spain can be challenging, we have experienced.


Until we leave, we can only enjoy Africa`s lights at night and of course our Lonely Planet that covers all of the continent. By the time we go, we`ll be anxious to leave Europe. Actually, we were already anxious to reach Tarifa. Especially when you consider the last two biking days before we got here.


On Friday we left our camp-spot right before the village Vejer with the idea to make it to Tarifa. After all it would be only 55 kilometers. Vejer is on a huge rock and we had decided that it wouldn`t be necessary to climb all the way into town to buy bread, if we would take the road directly by the ocean and cross a few villages. The day before we had already seen the ocean from another village on the top of a hill. A heavy climb showed us the ocean, 35 kilometers away and a national holiday forced us to have pasta here at a cafe instead of bread. What a punishment.


Taking the ocean route provided us with a solid amount of headwind. I was seriously angry with ourselves that we had made this decision. We were now dealing with difficult bursts of wind, dodging tourists that weren`t driving very carefully. Later we found out from a police officer that the direct road has even more wind. He advised us to stay alongside the ocean as long as possible. Since Antoine had already been blown off his bike (for the first time in his life) we decided to follow his advise. Slowly the road started climbing. From the average tourist town, we climbed into a beautiful neighborhood with enormous villas looking over the sea. Since we were running out of drinking water, Antoine rang a doorbell and walked up to a house. A swimmingpool with a beautiful view over the ocean was surrounded by the greenest grass we had ever seen in Spain. The Germans that lived there were friendly and they gave us a full bag of drinking water.


We continued climbing and found out why this was such a quiet road. It was ending by a lighthouse. From there on, we had to follow a dirtroad over the top of a hill. There we were, pushing our heavily loaded bikes uphill through rocks and clay, as if it was a river bed. At least we were somewhat protected from the wind. We made it back to a paved road. By now it was getting dark, and once again we were fighting the wind, this time while climbing very steeply. The first village we came across had to be our final destination for the day.


But there was nothing in this village. There was no way we were going to be able to pitch the tent without having the wind rip it apart. Apartments were all owned by one crazy woman and unaffordable for us. In the dark we looked around. We were told that many windsurfers camp by the end of the village during the summer, so we went out to the last bar in town. The owner said there was no way he was going to let us camp in his property. We should go over there, by the light, on the other side of the mountain.


Yeah right. I told Antoine I couldn`t do that. We already were wiped out from the wind and pushing our bikes. More wind and pushing in the cold and dark was simply not an option. The owner noticed my difficulties and thought for a moment. He offered for us to stay in the women´s bathroom of his bar. Antoine looked at me an thought I was never going to be ok with this. However, I figured that I`d better set my boundaries aside, if I want to bike through Africa. After all, it can always be worse. This bathroom didn`t look so bad, but it`s still very weird to sleep next to a toilet. We covered the ground and the toilet with the tent ground-sheet and as soon as we were in the sleeping bag, I quickly closed my eyes to try to forget where I was.


The next morning the wind had not gone down even a little bit. Two kilometers out of town we simply couldn`t stay on our bikes. We started pushing again. It felt like doing push-ups but then without taking a break, after all you cannot drop your bike. On the top of the hill a donkey gave us a good laugh. He was enthusiastically greeting us. Somehow Antoine has a special connection with donkeys. Maybe in a previous life…


Slowly we made our way downhill and treated ourselves to a good cappuccino in a local hotel. Only ten more kilometers to go. Around One we got to the campground, completely done with biking. We sat down to cook a good lunch of freezer-salmon which we had carried on our bikes for 24 hours now. We showered all the difficulties away and took the rest of the day off.
Deep inside I felt proud and happy that we had these hard days and did not really mind. We just dealt with the situation and pushed. I think our minds are ready for African challenges.

8 Reactions to: “Struggle to Tarifa”

  1. 1 Erik & Eugénie

    Hallo Chantal en Antoine,

    Tarifa,surfers paradijs en poort naar Afrika, en poort naa Marokko!
    Wij wensen jullie heel veel succes, boeiende ontmoetingen en intense ervaringen in dit prachtige land!
    Wij volgen met grote nieuwsgierigheid jullie fietsporen op jullie site!
    Tot gauw,
    Erik en Eugénie

  2. 2 Rob van Dijk

    Hallo Chantal (en Antoine natuurlijk!)

    Wat een tocht! Ik kan me voorstellen dat je s’avonds dan even helemaal stuk zit. Hopelijk heb je toch nog de puf om om je heen te kijken, en al het moois te zien.
    Ik neem aan dat jullie inmiddels in Afrika zijn,en wens jullie heel veel sterkte, heel veel kilometers met de wind in de rug, en heel veel plezier.
    Hier gaat alles zijn gangetje.

    Rob (en Jeanne natuurlijk)

  3. 3 Marian Febvre

    How nice to catch up with you! The website is great. Your stories are good to hear; and it feels familiar to hear of the biking adventures, both good and bad, and get to travel vicariously with you. And the photos are lovely. Antoine, the sunsets remind me of the day of the 13, or was it 37 ?, sunsets as we were heading back home to Grenoble from Provence.
    xxx M

  4. 4 javier

    hola! soy javier el chico que os guio por madrid. contarme por donde vais. un saludo y muchos animos

  5. 5 Marcel schoehuijs

    Hoi Antione and Chantal,

    Last year I stayed on the campeste bij Tarifa. A very good place and a beautyfull beach. I know the winds there.
    Marokko is great cycling too I did it to the montians of the atlas, but that will be a little cold now i think.
    Loke forward to the ways your going to do in the coming weeks.

    Greating from Maastricht Marcel Schoehuijs

  6. 6 Robert Hartholt

    Hallo Chantal en Antoine.

    Wij testen dit weekend de exped matjes die ik van jullie heb gekocht vlak voor jullie tocht begon. Ik kan jullie vertellen dat wij er erg blij mee zijn, aangezien ze vele malen beter slapen dan onze therm-a-rest matjes (al zijn die ook wel oke). Veel succes en vooral ook veel plezier toegewenst op jullie tocht door Afrika.

    Groeten van Robert en Nienke

  7. 7 Loet en Henny

    Hallo Chantal en Atoin
    Wij zijn inmiddels weer thuis en onze terug reis ging goed. Alleen in Salamanca hadden we s’nachts -10 graden dus dat viel wel even tegen.Wij hopen dat het met jullie goed gaat en dat jullie nog wat aan mijn compas hebben. Wij kijken nu al uit naar jullie vorderingen en blijven jullie volgen via de web side. Nog een goede
    reis . Groetjes Loet en Henny.

  8. 8 Fleur

    Lieve Chantal en Antoine,
    Wat een ontberingen…Ik hoop dat jullie de kerstdagen in een fijne omgeving door zullen brengen en dat jullie in 2008 zullen genieten van deze odyssee!
    De website is trouwens heel mooi geworden!

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