[Due to poor Internet connections, we’ve fallen behind on our posts about Morocco. We’ll get those up as soon as we can. In the meantime, we thought a quick update about where we are now would be nice.]
Plans? What plans?
One of our three main targets on this trip is the Camino de Santiago. For those who are not familiar, it’s a centuries-old pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. There are about a dozen routes with branches, but the most commonly walked route is from St. Jean Pie-de-Port in France, over the Pyrenees mountains, and across Northern Spain.
No, we didn’t cancel the Camino.
As I write this, we are on the train from Madrid to Pamplona, where we will catch a bus/taxi to St. Jean. We had originally planned to make our way there while enjoying various sights along the way, including crossing the Straight of Gibraltar and visiting the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
Our tentative plan had always been to make our way through Morocco and cross the Straight of Gibraltar by ferry (Tangier, Morocco to Tarifa, Spain) then make our way across Spain in steps to the start of the Camino de Santiago. We got as far as Chefchaouen in Northern Morocco, but it seemed like too much: bus to Tangier, ferry to Tarifa, bus to Algecerias, then bus to Malaga, stop by the Picasso Museum, train to Madrid then Bilbao (or flight to Bilbao), Guggenheim Museum, bus to San Sebastian, 1-2-3 enjoy beach, bus to St. Jean. This would have taken a minimum of two days, probably more to enjoy it. And booking connections in Morocco can be difficult — everything is a negotiation and sometimes you still don’t get what you agree to buy. So we went the other way.
We took a bus four hours to the Southwest to Rabat and flew from Rabat to Madrid. It was not without difficulty at the Rabat-Sale Airport, but it’s a relief to be in Spain. Morocco is fun, but everyday interactions are more challenging. Spain is easier, especially since I can understand a lot of Spanish (and speak a little).
This morning we did laundry, put about 1/3 of our stuff in a box and shipped it to Santiago de Compostela (to a service that holds shipped stuff for pilgrims — my compliments to El Correos (the post office) at Plaza Prosperidad in Madrid for being so helpful). Then we made our way to the train station and after a few failed negotiations with the ticket machine, we bought our tickets to Pamplona, a sandwich, and a beer. We are now on our way to the Camino.
Update: As it turns out, wifi along the Camino has been a bit spotty. I was finally able to upload this post at the end of our second day on the Camino (in Larrasoana). We’ve had an easier time uploading pics to the Instagram feed in the meantime.