Well, I am on a list. After they picked me up off the floor yesterday I found that if you came on the day of travel, you might get a ‘no show’ ticket. So here I am, 7 hrs before sailing time, the air conditioning, and the decent toilets help - but the day still passes slowly.
Let’s eye up the walk-on competition; luckily most are luggage free, suggesting they have cars, so no threat to me. My competitor’s are, probably, the thin Moroccan man in the faded floral shirt. He constantly hovers by the counter window. Then there are the two female American backpackers, there's the blonde one. I don’t see much of her, she pops in from outside and whispers to her friend as the day goes on. Both are very determined young ladies - despite language issues they made there point very clear to ‘bland’, indifferent man behind the glass. This ferry sails only once a week and this going to mess their plans – big style. They have however, burnt their boats re any possibility of using charm and female guile to get priority. He has been pestered so much by them I am sure he would love to bump them off and watch dispassionately the proceeding tantrum and scoff at the promises of a hail missiles from a passing B52 as ‘daddy is ‘big in defence’.
I've been on bigger ferries crossing to the Isle of Wight!
Anyway, my No.4 is an aging Hells Angel. Male 50’s, big belly, balding, give-aways are the clean(ish) clothes, and the leather jacket with ‘Gran Caneria Chapter Hells Angels’ on the back. This man is a fraud, a pretend tough-guy, playing with motorbikes on his 3rd mid-life crises. He has however, taken the same quiet approach as me. One advantage he does have, being a possible resident of the Canaries he probably entitled to priority boarding. Yes, it’s the quiet ones you need to watch out for.
Then there is No. 5. His name is Jesus. Much to my surprise and probably even more to the western Christian population, Jesus is black - very black and not from Nazareth but from Senegal. And yes, that was his name; his second name was very, very long. He has come in a wonderfully wrecked Citroen van with ‘Senegal Crafts - Canary Isles ‘ hand-painted on the side. Jesus, as you might properly expect is cheerful and friendly. He is the only one in the group here today that has spoken to me. By the way, he and his van had tickets; it was his two African companions lurking in the background that are ticket-less. I was desperate to ask him about my chances but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I would have felt I was abusing his good nature. I played the seasoned traveller with a minor issue about ‘getting out of town’.
It is now getting late. What seemed like hundreds had come into the office and collected tickets. Come 4 o’clock and there is a deathly hush, all eyes are on the man behind the glass. He calls the Moroccan over - didn’t have to come far as he was hovering inches from the counter - yes it’s a ticket. He produces a huge pile of worn documents from his back pocket.
All of us were by now around the window. I heard a murmur from the man, it sounded like my name ‘YES’! I so wanted to stick a finger up at the mighty US of A contingent but not before I actually had the tickets in my hand. A few questions to answer - how was I paying? I wanted to say “Anyway you like cash, credit card, you can have my body, do you fancy a nice bike, and would a bag of oranges help”? I resorted to my Fairfx Card in the end. A few clicks on the computer then the words,
A voice echoed around my head, “Noooooo”!
So I listen, there is only one berth available and it’s in a 4 berth cabin. I restrain myself from shouting “CALL THAT A PROBLEM.....! “ Tickets duly arrive and were now in my sweaty hands. I am heading for the ferry queue but in full ‘unruffled mode’ and was directed to the ‘German motorcycles’ and ‘proper bike’ boarding area. (There are always German motor cyclists waiting to catch a ferry). There was only one other cyclist and amazingly he had a trailer which had a little mongrel dog in it. All belong to a young lad ‘Jamal’. He has limited English but we get on very well and soon established our touring credentials with each other.
Jamil’s cycling companion
What was running through my mind was who was I sharing with? Bet it was three Turkish lorry drivers. I would crash open the door carrying panniers and a bag of oranges (that’s another story) and there they would all be - smoking Camel cigarettes and sitting there in sweaty vests, playing cards. The biggest one would be lying on the bunk cleaning his fingernails with a flick knife.
“Missee Thatcha’, she good ladyee, eh, Mr Englishman, you like?”
I would whisper “I am not English I am Scottish”.
“You come, stay me in Turkey land.”,
“Does Turkey have rain, haggis and midges?”
“You takka pissa, mister Englishman, I’ll slitta your throat in the night”.
Anyway, as only right and proper after my ordeal of waiting 4 days for this ferry, I am the very last person on board. My cabin is so far empty; just me and my imagination. Ages later the door is opened and it’s my companion for the next three days, Jamil - the dog/biker, we both give relief smiles
First view of the Canaries - A bit sparse and hilly isn't it?
Many hours spent here in the evenings supping beer and chatting
ORANGES ARE THE ONLY FRUIT
I should also explain about the large bag of oranges - I did not really spend all day in the ferry office. Once I was ‘listed’ and sitting there it dawned on me that if I did get on board, I would be totally reliant on the (obviously expensive, to me anyway) cafe/restaurant on the ferry, so I bought some food. And what a quandary that caused. Firstly, my back-up plan was to go back to Seville and fly out to Tenerife so I did not want to get too much. On the other hand - I needed three days of food but still needed to carry it on my bike. In the end, it was a two litre carton of Spanish wine, about 30 oranges, a large bag of mixed nuts, peanut butter and dry biscuits (I know how to live).
An amazing dietary collection and an immediate realisation, now that I was on board - I had got it wrong - not just that it meant eating 10 oranges a day, all was totally unnecessary anyway (apart from the wine) - I knew, but had completely forgot - the ferry ticket price included your food! There was a big mixture of people on board - the very wealthy ( I spoken to a couple of Scandinavians who were taking their Volvos over for the winter). The old Hippy contingent - they were the most dominate group (about 30). Who obviously found travelling very trying and seemed to be asleep (on deck) for the entire journey. Then there was the Africans (I guess about half the passengers). I later found out that the food was done this way to stop people like me bringing food on board and cooking it on deck.
Wasn't just sitting around all day. Did do a couple of mountains in the heat!!!
Oh. One last thing about the ferry - THE TIME - all during this three day journey the cafe opened exactly an hour late every time. Quite annoying for me but still mañana and all that. It wasn’t till we were approaching Tenerife that I spotted that the clocks had gone back an hour - I made the assumption that the Canaries Isles are on Spanish (European time) - it isn’t ! I had crossed a time zone. Strangely, as this happened without any warning I found it quite unsettling.
Anyway, the ferry was an 'experience' it was a great journey, saw dolphins, whales (water-spouts only) and flying fish but I was weary of being cooped up for so long and was relieved to get off and be met in Tenerife by friends. A big car took me and the bike to my ‘home’ for the next week.