About three days ago, we arrived in Africa for the first time for all of us except Joe who has visited before (but not this part). It was surreal to be eating fish and chips in a British pub in Gibraltar and then, 28 hours later, arrive in Mohammedia, Morocco – a far cry from scones and clotted cream.
I’m typing this as we move down the coast from El Jadida, a pleasant town with a large Portuguese fortified city and an exciting tide that leaves you either 3 feet under the concrete staircase you need to get off the dock or else 4 feet above them. We’re reading Alice in Wonderland in Charm School and it was quite like that today with the stairs, except without the mushrooms.
I didn’t really expect to be in Africa – we had done so much planning and thinking about being in the Mediterranean and crossing the Atlantic that I have failed to connect the two to determine how we would get from the Mediterranean to the Canary Islands where we will leave for the crossing of the Atlantic. I panicked when I saw that it was 850 miles from Spain to the Canaries. That’s a lot of continuous sailing for two adults and three kids, especially when one of the adults isn’t particularly good at not sleeping.
But it turns out there was a place to stop – Africa!
So, here we are, bopping down the coast of Morocco with almost zero wind and lots of fog. I just didn’t picture fog in Africa. But there are many things I didn’t picture.
Like having a cellular data connection via our wonderful Wirie device. We pop in a SIM card and it magically gives us internet. So I can type while periodically trying to see through the fog for the fishing boats that don’t show up on any of our devices that track the location of boats. They don’t show up because they aren’t metal, so radar doesn’t work, and they don’t have any reason to pay for an AIS system that the large commercial boats have so they don’t show up on that either. You just have to look for them. So old-fashioned.
About 45 minutes ago, I saw two lights in the distance. I thought they were two ends of a fishing net and was grateful to the fishermen for lighting their net so I wouldn’t hit it. I verified that we would miss the net and worked on something else (probably this). When I looked again, we were headed straight for the net. This sometimes happens to me – I still have trouble reading the lights of boats to figure out which way they are headed and also, things just get distorted at night and with distance. I assumed I had just misread the way the lights had lined up in relation to us and adjusted our course.
I looked again – still headed straight for them. Were they moving? Was it really a net? Nope – not a net – definitely moving. I altered course again and kept watching. They moved, we moved and then suddenly they were two boats, very close. Close enough that I could see them moving around on their boats. Close enough for me to realize we couldn’t outrun them if they decided to come closer. One boat moved off fairly quickly but the other puttered around, flashing various lights. They were probably doing fishing things but, as Joe commented earlier, why did they have to do those fishing things right next to us?
Now they’re gone and we’re alone again in the fog.
I decided to give up on making the blog perfect and just start posting things. Maybe someday there will be photos. I have photos and I have writing. It’s just connecting them that’s the problem.
Maybe the answer to this is also in the fog.