Tag Archives: Adventurous family travels

First Christmas back on land

Today doesn’t only mark our first Christmas Eve back home in 2.5 years, but also one month since leaving London for Sydney, since putting a final line under the long-term sailing chapter with little kids and shifting the focus onto new projects, since trying to readjust our systems from sailors’ lives to landlubbers. Needless to say that it hasn’t been easy and, not surprisingly, it’s not the things you expect, but those you don’t that shake your life like in a pepper grinder and spit it out – somewhat different at the other end.

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After thirty days I finally get the feeling that my Soul has arrived too. Souls never travel at plane speed, but cruise at a more natural rhythm. While waiting for it to arrive, all the ‘visible’ things in life went the best course we could have dreamt off: Week 1 – Pablo got his old job back, I started booking in some yoga classes, we felt super warmly welcomed by our great community here in Sydney. Week 2 – half of us came down with a nasty gastro virus, leaving us depleted, but also somewhat calm, cleansed and ready for a fresh start with no old nostalgia, resentment or even anger sticking around. Week 3 – bought a massive family car with huge boot for camping or extra seats, bought an new red Vespa to honour the good old times and moved from our initially fabulous city apartment into more-our-style beach pad with garden in Bondi. Week 4 – prepped for Christmas setting up a little tree with the boys etc, re-signed up to local libraries, re-launched our parenting support payments (300$/year for single income families – TA, is this a joke???) sent out invites to our no-stress Christmas day BBQ (anyone who’s around and didn’t get it – pls come anyway!), enjoyed more fun time with old friends and started cooking my Dini-style healthy food again which is big part of really making me feel that I have arrived.

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Throughout all this there wasn’t only the internal cleanse from the gastro, but also lots of emotional, energetic and spiritual cleansing through various old and new fabulous experts I realized I had missed throughout our year’s at Sea more than I would like. Reluctantly I admit that there is a whole plethora of advantages to land-life that constant travelling at Sea can’t get you:

Having the best chiro, midwife, energetic cleanser, massage place, Ayurvedic clinic, yogi inspiration and much more at hand whenever needed; the easiness of knowing exactly where to go to find things like the freshest and cheapest box of coconuts, the most amazing food – from Asian, to South American, African… you name it, Sydney’s got it!; the best beaches at your door step (ok, to be fair that, we had on the boat too); friends to hang out with without having to say farewells; washing machine, dish-washer AND what seems to me like a massive fridge; more structure for the kids which they love and which gives us more free-time to ourselves; no freak-outs when they are playing hide-and-seek knowing that they can’t have dropped in the ocean but are merely in the wardrobe or garden; all that SPACE!!!; the easiness of living in a house (no water tanks, pipes, thru-hulls and battery states to worry about)… Sure there’s also the not so enjoyable things of city life like stressed people, bills and – well, no sailing views etc – as well as the more ridiculous things, like three RBTs (Random Breath Tests by road-side police) in less than 24 hours.

 

It goes without saying that I have many moments of missing Happy Dancer, the amazing places we saw, delicious people we met on the way, dolphins who I could talk to for ours on our bow, exhilaration of constant adventure… But having done it once, it has left me completely calm, knowing exactly what to do when the urge gets too strong again. I got my eyes on the Pacific in ten years – either by myself then, or in a massive boat with a whole bunch of friends as community living was always part of my big dream and I so, so, so rejoice being back with and right in our old and amazing community. Also it’s not fair to expect everything from your partner, while isolated at sea, and that’s what you are forced to do when there are no friends, nor constant social support network around – and that’s what’s been a big part of our journey, in going, in being there, and in coming back. Now it’s time for wonderfully normal Christmas times, Aussie style – with BBQ, friends and beach time. Namaste, tranquil and peaceful Christmas days and a 2016 full of dreams to dream and reams to live!

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Why not travel to Morocco?

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Crossing via ferry from Aljeciras in Spain to Tanger wasn’t exactly how I had imagined arriving in Morocco a few months ago. But neither were so many other things which have happened since. That’s the beauty about life, and travelling life in particular. Forced to stay flexible. Forced to stay open – to what flows cross your path.

Arriving in Tanger Med, an industrial ferry terminal 50km away from Tanger city, we catch a cab to Tetuan – a small town at the edge of the Riff mountains off the beaten backpackers track. We are most warmly welcomed by Abdul from the Riad Delia where we booked in for the night. He helps us carry our bags and find our way through the maze of the ancient, most picturesque and car-free medina. When we arrive I feel we are in fairy tale land. Round decorated arches over all doors and colourful windows. Aladin’s carpets everywhere. Stunning mosaics wherever the eyes rest. Cosy couchy corners in all directions where sweet mint tea is served as a welcome. The Riad owners have a girl about the same age as our boys. They get on like a house on fire from the first moment. After the obligatory welcome ceremony we are let up to our quarters past the black and white squared patio lined with palm trees. Upstairs we enter the royal quarters. A large princess bed which huge cushions and royal curtains hanging down from the high ceiling. Extra beds prepared for the kids. A small and cosy private bathroom through another arched ferry tale gate.

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Later we go for an evening stroll through the tiny streets, some so narrow we have to walk in single file and some gates so low only the kids can pass through comfortably without having to pull their head in. Little stands from old and young, men and women everywhere selling anything from delicious French bakeries, over hand-made leather shoes to tiny gifts and gadgets no-one really needs but people still buy. Hustle and bustle everywhere. Aliveness. Coulours. Smiles from the women. Curious looks from the guys although I tried to cover myself up as good as I can. The most delicious scents, from freshly ground coffee, over dried spices to all sorts of undefinable smells. We love and indulge in this strange and intriguing wold until our tummies call us back home for dinner where a mix of steaming sweet and sour Tajin and most delicious tongue-melting couscous awaits us.

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Tetuan_594 Tetuan_595The next morning the kids get up without us noticing and start painting with Dalia downstairs. I’m not sure if this strong-willed, cheeky five-year old was named after the Riad or vice versa. Probably the former. In any case, a local kid at home is one of the best things that can happen to travelling parents. At a decent hour we are treated to a delicious and abundant breakfast which strongly shows the French influence and their love and talent for sweets and bakery. Another morning of getting lost and found again through the tiny fairy-tale streets of the medina. Surprisingly, and as usual for this trip contrary to what Lonely Planet states, the arts and crafts school by local berbers is closed, not on a Friday but on a Sunday. It seems that at least Northern Morocco looks much more up then right or down. In other words, it is more influenced by Europe than by Islam and Africa. This, we also find in the dominant language as, again contrary to what the newest Lonely Planet says, is not French, but obviously Spanish. Not surprising that at its narrowest, the stretch of Gibraltar separates Morocco from Spain by a mere 16 kilometres. Away from salty water, we are on to breathe some fresh mountain air. The Riff, they say, is great for the people who love the idea of lush mountains, green forests and enjoyable hikes but are just not quite ready yet for the Atlas Mountains further South. Yes, that’s so us today!

I’m told and I realize that Lonely Planet is so outdatedly, misleadingly yesterday written by people who might have never visited a place, or if so, then a decade ago. The way to go, fellow travellers swear by, if not your own nose and their advice, then TripAdvisor.