Riding Lessons In UK, Morocco, Tunisia
We travelled through the whole of Great Britain from September to November.
I don’t deny the fact that, after the riding school incident, which left me in a cast for several months, I was scared of wet conditions but Vicente believed that the best way to get over my fear was to go to Scotland! Once back from this trip, I’d be an expert at riding in wet conditions and so, a little recklessly, I let him convince me and we set off.
Full of excitement, we left Spain and headed to Scotland. We couldn’t wait to get started. It’s a country where it rains almost every day. I was nervous, because as I’ve said, the riding school incident had affected me, but I had to get over it and the best way to do that was to face it.
We travelled through the whole of Great Britain from September to November. The weather didn’t help and it was very cold at times, but we knew that the really freezing temperatures would come in the months ahead.
With the coming of winter, we moved on to Morocco and the Western Sahara, where we faced different challenges – sand, sweltering heat and desert. This was nothing new for Vicente as he had several years of experience of travelling in Morocco with an enduro bike, but I didn’t know what it meant to find yourself in the middle of the desert, in tremendous heat, battling with the sand and without water. Until the day when we were in the Sahara and several miles from the closest inhabited place and we lost the only bottle of water we had left!
We stayed in Morocco for a month, during which we really got to know the culture, the people and the cuisine. Morocco had a particular effect on me. As a Brazilian, I love the Arabic culture and the scenery this land offers, so different from those of my homeland. A wonderful country, of which I’ll always have fond memories.
Our idea was to cover North Africa before returning to Europe, so that I could build confidence with my bike. Algeria was nearby but we couldn’t reach it from Morocco, as the border between these two countries has been closed for many years for political reasons. So we had to return to Spain, before heading into Algeria and, from there, Tunisia.
Sorting the visa was quite complicated due to the various requirements. And then, after showing our documents, insurance policies and the rest, our visa was denied because it was election time and they didn’t want any tourists around.
And so we changed our plans and went to Tunisia via Italy.
We traversed the Bel Paese from north to south before getting the ferry to Sicily. After a few days spent thoroughly exploring the place, we took a ferry to Tunis.
The day after we arrived in Tunisia marked the start of Ramadan, a period during which the country is transformed, with normal activity reduced, many shops closed and the cities almost empty. More than once, we were forced to have a can of tuna and a piece of bread for lunch because we couldn’t find anywhere open in which to eat.
Finally, after a month, Ramadan came to an end and we were able to eat anywhere, at any time, so we had the chance to appreciate some excellent Arab cuisine.
We crossed Tunisia in its entirety, from north to south and from east to west, as we usually do on this world tour in order to really get to know the countries we visit. It was now clear that the trip to North Cape had been a way for Vicente to put me to the test and understand whether I’d be able to cope with the many hours in the saddle!
And so we reached the border with Libya but we couldn’t cross due to the conflict taking place there. We’ll try again at a better time.