Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Camping in Spain (3) - Tarifa revisited

Tarifa. One of our favourite places in spite of the wind.

The first time we arrived there was when we had done a Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco and Portugal trip. Three weeks backpacking for Adrian's 40th birthday.

We arrived on his birthday, we were promptly offered some hash as we walked up the main street, and we missed the last bus to the campsite.

But we met a fine South African called Nick. He was busy driving up and down the length of Africa doing tours, complete with two huge ex-South African Army trucks in which he transported a car, an enduro, as well as all the people and provisions, so we had a few days chilling out for our birthdays and a good laugh with him. So we had good memories of Tarifa and decided to go back (not something we normally do...).

We found a nice exposed corner spot (to dry out the tent). Of course that only works when it isn't pissing it down and it is blowing a gale. It was not blowing a gale. It always blows a gale in Tarifa. We must have spent a week there with not a breath of wind. In the end we moved pitches to one that was less exposed but at least we could hang out the towels in the rare dry moments.

But it was good for Landies. We met a French guy with a Series II who had been to Morocco, but was starting to think that they were both getting a bit old for it. He said everyone seemed to have new vehicles these days and looked appreciatively at the SIII.

We met some Germans who were in the Deutscher Land Rover Club. They had been to Morocco too but one of them had a steering problem. He had managed to get from the bottom end of Morocco to Tarifa with a clunking noise, although when Adrian looked he could see nothing wrong with it. Hope he got home ok. Not sure whether it was a ball joint or what.

German Defenders on the left. Our Series III on the right.

And we met the couple from Hampshire. Sue and her partner in their 101 Forward Control.

We always remember them because he went to great pains to tell us that their mates at RPI had sorted the vehicle for them. We didn't see much of her, she was making a cup of tea and looked at us as though we had crawled from goodness knows where. They were off to Ghana or somewhere.

Hex, or whatever they called their 101

They weren't very chatty. Even though Adrian was dead keen to look it over. I think they must have been tired. We read one of their articles in a Land Rover magazine later.

But we did meet a nice guy who gave us a jump start when the battery was flat. He had a posh Land Rover, well, it was a Discovery, and he was dead helpful.

The flat battery was my fault. We had an excursion to Baelo Claudio. Very nice. Lots of Roman ruins. Well worth a visit if you are down Tarifa way. I said I wasn't going to wander round but couldn't resist so I got lost amidst the stones. (I think it was free, that may have been what lured me in). Meanwhile Adrian had the engine turning over and eventually the battery died.

The problem was that Baelo Claudio is in the middle of nowhere up and down a few steep hills. After much swearing and messing around we eventually got going and went back to the camp site. To chill out with a few beers. But the next day the battery died again.

So after the guy gave us a jump start we decided to bite the bullet and went to Tarifa for a new battery. The second in less than two months. And the third in about six months. Batteries huh.

It was a good site with some cool people. If you were stuck, people would help. Usually if people needed help they asked those of us with Land Rovers. We pulled a German guy with a huge rig out of a little bit of mud. He was well impressed. It would have cost him a fortune to get the recovery people out so he gave us ten euros for a beer. Good guy.

And when we weren't doing Land Rover stuff we sat in the nice bar/lounge/common room with a great fire talking to French windsurfers and young (well younger than us) travellers. In fact those of us who retreated there regularly used up most of the camp site stock of logs. There is not much else to do when it rains in Tarifa.

A couple of dry moments. Paddy resting his head on the generator....

....and Prince. Helping me cook and telling everyone to get out of his face.

So then we moved up the coast.

Mileage for trip

In and out of Tarifa - not much
Tarifa to Baelo Claudio - not much either

Landy problems
Flat battery at Baelo Claudio
Failed again at camp site
Bought new one in Tarifa

Landy help
A jump start for us (thanks guys)
We towed a campervan out
Looked at the German Defender and our advice was it should get him home

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