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Day 5
swing
amw
So. Step one, walk to the ferry terminal. See if i can get on a boat to Melilla. If not, resist the temptation to take a boat to Algeria instead. Backup plan, walk to the train station and take the first bus to wherever it is going. Step zero, coffee.

-o-

Well, i'm on a ferry across the Mediterranean. I haven't been on a proper ferry like this in i can't remember how long. I was a child. The best part is it's exactly how i remember. Rusty old metal railings. Sloping spaceship windows. Mirrored steel plate on the ceiling of the bar. People building little makeshift campsites with picnic blankets so they can get a few hours rest. Some guy roping off parts of the deck so he can sand... something. Even the sound of screaming kids is not annoying me like it usually does because it sort of fits with my memory of these things.

I have two very clear memories of ferry travel as a kid. One of them was the time dad took me into the theater and i was eating peanuts. Big Trouble in Little China was playing, and i guess dad decided it was too scary for me and took me outside after the first 20 minutes or so. I didn't see that movie again for like 15 years. Now it's one of my favorites.

The other memory was a nightmare scenario where we had taken a door onto one of the car decks just before it automatically locked. Mom and my sister were trapped on the other side, so dad put me in the car and went to look for them. But the doors had locked because the car deck started sloping down to unload the vehicles, and our car started to roll out of the ship. I had no idea what to do and was screaming for help trying to hold the car up. Eventually some of the deck hands came and chocked the car till my family showed up again. Yes. Good times.

We just entered the rain band - i can see the drops on the spaceship windows. Unfortunately i can't pop my head out because i have a beer and it's taking forever to drink. Maybe i should grab a bocadillo or something. I do have 3 more hours to kill, though. Maybe i'll just sit back and watch the sea through rain-swept windows.

-o-

No beer! I almost fell off my chair. I thought i wasn't understanding the Spanish correctly. No beer! I know it's Sunday, and it's siesta, and this town is practically in Morocco, but damn. Perhaps i need a coffee anyway. That was a really fun boat road. Well. Entirely uninteresting, in fact, but a nice break. This town looks very pretty, though it's completely dead. But you know. It's Sunday. Siesta. Bla bla. Siesta is great when you are actually already at the place, but it sucks a lot to arrive in the middle of.

-o-

This place has some amazingly beautiful little buildings, which i will not be taking photos of because i feel like a douche photographing people's houses. I'll just have to remember it. I was walking all over trying to figure out where everyone who lives here goes to drink. I finally found a bar with a bunch of people out front. No tapas, but i got a delicious plate of nuts and candies and things. It's nice to be around the community of Spanish people, gossiping, call their kids back off the road and so on. I was beginning to think this was a ghost town.

Some kids asked me for a photo and me being shit at Spanish and suspicious of teenagers said no. Heh. Not like losing this phone would be anything new for me, but right now next to this diary and my passport it's the most valuable thing i have.

Ha! A little kid came up to ask for my candy. His dad said he should ask me in English. Ah, i am so bummed i can't just bumble out some words without thinking about it.

You know, earlier in the year (before i quit my job) i was thinking of taking a holiday in Asia, perhaps Vietnam. My biggest concern was not speaking the language. This trip is kind of confirming it. It's not that i'm scared of being somewhere i can't communicate, exactly, it's more that having some kind of contact with the locals is so important to me. I don't want to just fly through and see the sights and eat the food then hide in my hotel. I want to understand a little. Maybe exchange some words with someone, give them a smile when they say something funny. It's hard enough here, but in the Middle East, or Asia, or even Eastern Europe i would be completely lost. I dunno. People say that's part of the experience, trying to communicate without language, but look at me. I'm writing a fucking novel here. Language is important to me. I wish i could speak more.

On the other hand, there are places i'd love to visit that, with this mindset, i will forever miss out on. Vietnam, China, Russia, Iran, Iraq (well...), Egypt, Sudan... Hrm.

The thing is, coming here makes me want to come here again. Maybe not the exact same cities, but somewhere Spanish so i can improve my language skills and improve my understanding.

Perhaps this is all a side-effect of being an army brat... Or just someone who keeps moving to different countries. I've hardly ever taken any "normal" vacations overseas, after all. I like to "get" places. Even if i'm only there for a day, i like to feel connected to the people who live there, somehow, temporarily.

-o-

When we pulled into the port, i saw a few more ships docked just a few km up the coast. I thought it was odd to have the port split like that, but now i'm beginning to think that's the port on the Moroccan side of the border. How utterly bizarre to invade Morocco and claim such a tiny strip of land. I wonder if many people try sneak over at night in a tiny rowing boat.

It has a bizarrely American feeling here. So i sat down at a bizarrely American restaurant.

... And speak to a bizarrely friendly waiter who pulls not-terrible German out of his ass. And English. And some kind of Spanishy-French slang that might be a local thing. He hit on me, sort of, in that typical resort waiter-y way. He lived in the Canary Islands. Then i had a short chat with a guy who turned out to be an ex-merchant seaman who is now piloting the port. These two guys spoke English very well. And i'm eating my first "real" meal since coming to Spain. "American" fajitas de pollo with french fries. Awesome.

Also, bizarrely, this town is full of bros. Like, shaved heads, muscles, high-fiving cops, slapping asses, bro-ing around... The guys are also a lot more forward with me than they were up north. I'm not sure if it's a local cultural thing, or if it's just because this is a smaller town so i'm a bit more of a curiosity.

Weird and interesting.

... And a kid just stole a handful of fries right off my plate. Admittedly he "swapped" me some dry bread i had already said no to. I don't mind since i am eating too much tonight anyway (not used to real meals any more), but damn. A lot of nerve. I guess it is a local cultural thing. Bro-town.

Oh, did i mention some bro loitering at the port greeted me in perfect German? I guess he tries to read everyone who comes in alone and since i am very tall and very white... Deutsch. Bro. This place has more bros than Istanbul.

Jesus, the waiter just gave me like a triple of rum on the rocks. I gotta watch my ass here. Don't wanna lose more fries.

Sometimes being a boy would be way more convenient.

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