28.08.2015 Berrechid, Morocco

Day was certainly started well. For more than an hour I wade through traffic flow to the port of Algeciras, just to be surprised that while I was driving – the ruble has fallen so much that I did not have enough money even for a ticket for the ferry to Tangier not to mention the other expenses. I stifled a panic and went to look for some free WiFi. I found it and in the end Feodor came to the rescue, one of my friends that support me. Thank you, Feodor! I was able to buy a ticket for the next ferry and go for it.

In the queue for the ferry, I exchanged a few words with one Tangier citizen and funny guys from Austria who now go to Morocco on an old minivan. The mood was militant and played songs about Africa in my head. Soon the ferry was parked and a small procession of cars plunged into his belly. I closed this procession, the last rolla in the guts of the ship. Secured motorcycle with ropes, I went up on deck where I had to go through passport control. Not counting the huge queues, and the difficulty of filling the migration sheet (it is in Arabic and French) – everything was easy enough and soon in my passport was a stamp of arrival. After completing the formalities I went to the open deck to smoke. My unusual view (motorcycle gears among the people in light clothing) triggered the curiosity of one of the passengers and we struck up a conversation. Soon we were sitting at a table and talked involving sign language, my meager knowledge of Spanish and basic English of my neighbor. Yusuf was the name of my new friend, told me about Morocco and tried to call on the phone to his Russian-speaking friend (no chances in the sea). Periodically I was distracted for photographing beautiful views of Gibraltar and the setting sun. Time passed quickly, and at dusk, I rolled out of the ship.

Customs control was quick and confusing, but without any excesses, and soon I started my first ride on Africa – 30km from Tangier-Medina where the ferry arrived to Tangier itself. The first thing I saw was the beginning of the toll road. No, I said. “Do not want”. And turned into a secondary roads.

No light, poor road surface and driving style crazy locals cheered me in earnest. During these 30 kilometers, I clearly felt how it was safe to drive in Europe and even in Italy. Smy spirit was heated by several invitations to visit different cities in Morocco sent to me via CouchSurfing. One of them was directly in Tangier. I made my way to the city center, found an ATM, withdrew all the money in local currency, dihramah, and asked for the tea at nearest cafe and a password for WiFi.

Unfortunately, the guy who offered me a host in Tangier – did not go out for connection anymore. However, it was quite vivid dialogue with another guy, Abdellatif from town of Berrechid, which is near Casablanca. Distance to berrechid – approx 360 kilometers. We agreed that I will try to find an open WiFi in Casablanca as soon as I get there, and then we will see. I scratched at all possible residues and figured that maybe besides gasoline maybe I can have enough for one cup of tea on my way to Casablanka. With these thoughts I went in almost midnight. In Morocco allowed to put up tents anywhere, so a little strayed (to hell toll roads again) I managed to find a nice place in a small forest.

Quickly and habitually pitched camp I took last of stockpiled instant noodles and prepared it on the burner. Breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time. I was sitting on the grass, leaning on a motorcycle, smoking and staring at the stars. Beautiful moments that stick in the memory. Somewhere nearby tree laughed mockingbird. Making fun of me – I thought. I grinned to my own thoughts and went to sleep.

The next day I arrived in Casablanca, found free online and eventually reached Berrechid barely on one wing. In my pocket was a little over 10 dihrams, gas cans is empty and “need gas filling” light burned 45 kilometers back. If Abdelatif suddenly could not find me – it would be funny. But we have found each other and I was greeted with a traditional eastern hospitality. Garage for motorcycle, shower, delicious food and a good attitude. Now I can take a little rest.

Abdellatif itself – a wonderful guy from Berrechid, finishing the last year of university. His English is not perfect (as well as mine too), but we easily found a common language. I eagerly absorbed the flavor and the surrounding atmosphere. Morocco – a secular state and then combines the amazing world, world of the orthodox Muslims and those who prefer the western way of life. For all the time I did not see any hint of hostility, no oblique view between the different approaches to life. I looked and did not understand – why it can not be everywhere like this? Dzhalabiyu you wear or jeans – the same attitude. People respect the lifestyles of others and everything is OK.

We walked a lot of Berrechid, met friends of Abdellatif, came late in “the Block” (dangerous area, almost Columbia, they said), and I can not stop wondering suicidal impulses both pedestrians and drivers of mopeds and cars. The infrastructure for pedestrian traffic is virtually absent, it is not surprising that they share the same way without considering the consequences. Horn – a way of expressing a wide range of emotions, from anger to admiration, used everywhere. However, I have not seen a single accident.

Vehicles are mainly represented by three kinds of techniques. The first and most conspicuous part – Mercedes W123. Yes, it’s just the land of 123rd Mercedes! Thousands of them! Look around and you always see the 123. The second category – the small little old diesel Peugeot cars. Apparently reliable. Third – mopeds of all kinds and colors. No scooter, namely mopeds. With pedals, all as expected. Old, ancient. What we have is revered as a museum exhibit and a rarity here is a means of transportation. Everyone riding it, young and old, in the absolute chaos on the road. Add some trucks, carts with donkeys and horses, a few pickups, a little new cars – and you get a picture of traffic in Morocco.

Abdellatif also have a moped. For some time we have spent for cleaning and adjusting the carburetor and finding out the reasons why the engine power is transmitted so bad to the wheel. The reason was simple – clutch is dead. But the process of messing with something metal and alive delivered as usual enormous pleasure.

The next night I made steak for Abdellatif and his brother, Mued. I was in a cheerful excitement. Russian man preparing american food for his Moroccan Arab friend. What the mix of cultures! My cooking was found good and I was awarded the highest praise. Then we got to the roof of the house, drank Moroccan tea and chatted about everything in the world. Can i forget such moments? Definitely not.

Well, after spending a few days in such an amazing place, it’s time to move on. One of invitors from CouchSurfing (yes, Africa CouchSurfing works in contrast to Europe!) Is still connected and calls to visit his house in Merzouga, almost in the middle of the desert. I have a 12 dihram and kindly donated five liters of petrol in the tank, and then – a total unknown.

23.08.2015 Sevilla, Spain

… I was lying in a sleeping bag next to a motorcycle somewhere in the middle of the field, tall grass hiding me from prying eyes. I had not money for campsite. Tormented by thoughts of the future I could not sleep. I looked up at the sky where the clouds were moving against the stars and trying to figure out what to do next. Stars slowly lulled me, but in the morning it began to rain, kicked me out of the cozy heat in the inhospitable start to the day. The mood was no good at all.

At that time, when despair came close to my mind and was going like a thundercloud overwhelm all other thoughts – there was a gleam. First one, then another, then a third … soon I was completely in the opposite mood point. Guys, thank you so much… Thank you Uwe, thank you Andrew, thank anonymous unknown. Folded wings were spreaded again. I regained the ability to move on. Each of you are now left a part of himself in this journey. And do not forget to write the addresses where to send the postcard, I beg you! So I could somehow repay you.

In the following days there was not even a lot of events, but the circumstances. Initial plans to cross the Atlantic from Europe to the United States was destined to fail. Fate decreed otherwise. I myself made a huge mistake not searching for the ship in advance, even before the start. In my thoughts and researches on the Internet all seen a little differently. Transatlantic – very popular route in the end. Of course, this is not a train goes every half hour, but … I have visited almost all the major ports of the west coast of Southern Europe – all in vain. There was something wanted to send me on a different path. At the last port, in Sines, I could have been able to find a ship. It goes each week, they said. Give us a formal request by e-mail, they said … I stuck at camping near Sines in the whole week. Every day – one answer: “we have not yet come to the calculation result of value and the circumstances of your request.” And no, you can not communicate directly with the crew. This is oil port, we are all seriously secured. No, no more can be said.

My patience ran out on Friday night. The working week is over, still there is no answer. The weather deteriorated as the always happens when I’ve got to go further. Burn all in the blue flames, I am going to Africa! I decided to took a relax day without serious thought and then come back in a way.

As if to prove the correctness of my intentions happened Saturday night. By chance I found out that at nine o’clock in the bar at the campsite stands a singer and guitarist. Local frequenter highly recommended it to me. Well, why not? So shortly before nine in the evening I was at the bar. Soon came a performer. Fate, providence, luck, I do not know what to call it. From the first song swirl of impressions and emotions overwhelmed me. During its journey more than once I have seen times when everything suddenly becomes so natural, building a feeling of what is happening in separate microcosm, saturating my understanding that there this is the journey. This was one of that moments. Beautiful voice and guitar have taken away my thoughts, and I feel that everything is going exactly as it should. Carlos was the name of the singer. His performance could reach the brightest feelings inside me. People around singing and clapping to the beat, and I was overwhelmed by tsunami of feelings and thoughts. I sat at the bar and at the same time dissolved in an event. I was like in my place, here and now. With my right solution, with support from friends, with music that drew in the imagination of the road, the villages,the turns. I wanted to laugh with joy.

The next day I moved in the direction of the southern coast of Spain.

16.08.2015 Vigo, Spain

Spain. Small camping not far from Vigo, Galicia’s main port. Two days have passed since I left the Bardou. Another European country on my way.

In my head raging storm and it echoed the dreams. Every day I dream so realistic that many times per night I wake up, often in a vain attempt to understand the reality of what I am. The price paid for impressions … This exhausts my already shakiness consciousness. I often think about what I have left, and like Ted Simon, I doubt that I could bear such pain again. Sometimes I find a confirmation of my sanity only that I can interact with the public without harm for them and for myself. A very vague concept. But who among us is healthy? Normal people do not travel in such way anyway.

That storm consists of two opposites, tearing each other, trying to take my mind entirely. On the one hand is the complete uncertainty of the future, lack of finance, lack of any chord. Just hopes which reality carefully wipes, managing to introduce the best worst. My slogans now is “better than nothing” and «I just go». The best excuse for despair, is not it? On the other hand, and I’m just starting to realize it – the beauty. Comprehensive, stunning, flooding the brain cells, beauty. It is everywhere. In the mountains, on the road, in the ocean. Even now, in the silhouettes of palm trees illuminated by yellow lights highway in fog and drizzle. In humans. Though people here lose badly to what some call “eastern mentality.” Locked in their own world, they are not interested in anything else. It’s disgusting. Only in the oldest ones survived desire for the unusual, for what is not from their own little world. And this is multiplied their greatness in comparison with the ever-bustling young people with shifty eyes. But it’s not about them. About Beauty. Nothing can give such feelings as traveling. You can visit the thousands of museums and listen to hundreds of hours of classical music, but none of this even a mile is not close to what I see and feel every day. And the new, seen by me, leaving me in the particles of the present. Ocean – I’ve never seen the ocean. I was close more than once, but something did not allow me to feel it. That rush, sudden plans, you name it. Perhaps this event were saving itself for a special occasion, like my journey. I think that’s why travel are the best way of perception aesthetics – anywhere and in any way is no longer possible to see and feel what you learned in the journey. Every morning, in addition to severe head from dreams, fills me with excitement from the realization that I will soon again look behind the corner. And the excitement does not remain unanswered – even the provincial road is able to bestow hail delightful views. This is not a work of art or documentary film. This is my movie. Every minute I gasp in admiration.

… The day before yesterday was Bilbao. Large port, said to me William. Large port, echoed Internet. Damnit, that’s not a port. It’s a city. The port itself in a couple of tens of kilometers, in the town of Portugalete. In which I found some local holiday (in the latter camp barman said that it seems the 15th of August each town on it’s own holiday). Private port, where I was still admitted in spite of the holidays, and the secretary of the International Sailors Club, which does not speak any other than Spanish. International, yes. Bad luck.

Next was Sanantander just to stand overnight and ask. Yes, a small port. But the bartender at the camp was a replica of the main character from the film Across the Universe, grumbling that nobody wants to work. Nice fellow.

And now, Vigo. Small camping not far away, bad weather … Near the ocean it is cold, even in Spain. Me again surrounded by doubts about the port, this negative part of the consciousness regains strength. It is best to help myself with the music. It joins the general flow of observable beauty and helps tame the dark side of consciousness. We will see …

13.08.2015 Still in Bardou


Concert. Wondrous beauty of the concert in wondrous beauty spot. And the evening buffet a little later in the house, which is called “The Tower”. The twilight of candles and pale lamp creates a feeling like the air filled with talk, feel and passion. People from around the world are smiling and laughing. What made them all go this far? Probably, the atmosphere that I try in vain to describe in words.

The atmosphere … The others. And events. Everything merges into some stream that fills my veins, brings a sense of great joy, but confuses thoughts.

The next day after my arrival, in the early morning, I went to the house of Jean to ask what I can do, where to attach my hands. She gave me directions to wait for William, who will explain everything I need.

William. The old man, an American who has lived for 16 years in Bardou. Always on his mind, looks angry, but with very big kind heart. He is the only one who lives in the village throughout the year, in addition to Jean. And accordingly he deals with all technical matters of the village. It’s amazing how everything comes into peace when there is no comfort and other things arranged by our new century. All of the “benefits” of civilization, which we do not even think about, here is a matter of every day. Water, for example. There are two sources of water, mountain streams, winter and summer. Both lead to the tanks, which are a kind of buffer. The level in the tanks is necessary to watch, otherwise the village will remain without water. The vagaries of nature …

The first day, and my first task – to clear the shortcut trail to the tanks, which is overgrown with a couple of years ago. Armed with bolt cutters, saw and rake, a hat and a bottle of water, I set to work. Several hours later, the road was cleared, and I’m, pleased with myself, returned to the village to report on the successful completion of the mission.

On the second day, William asked me to deepen the pool for the winter watershed, which I did, climbed up by the bottom of dry creek and waved a couple of hours with a shovel. It was as if I was in the world which is perfect to me. I workv with my hands and do useful things – and it gives me real pleasure indeed. I went down to the village, jumping on the rocks with a shovel on my shoulder, singing a song. Oh, Bardou … You breathed life into me so much that I do not know how to thank you.

On the third day in a small amphitheater company of German musicians gave a concert. Quartets and quintets succeeded each other, delighting the ear. William and I climbed higher and away from the public, and enjoyed the music and beer, which brought William. Beautiful, beautiful moments.

After the concert in the highest building, the Tower, festivities happened over the last concert, which I wrote at the beginning. Lovely food and lots of wine. In one of the moments I found myself in the center of the company, which begged to sing something in Russian. I have a musical hearing, but absolutely do not have musical voice. The performance was terrible, oh, it’s all wine! Strange relationship I have with this drink … However, definitely the party was a success, and I spent quite a lot minutes of fun, telling my story to everyone curious. The people were nice and pleasant, a great evening!

I talked to Jean and her daughter, Elizabeth. At some point they asked me to describe on a paper briefly my story of arriving in Bardou. It was an idea that came to their minds when they met with me. Collect stories that led people in Bardou, and then publish a book about it. Suddenly I felt myself once again identified with Ted Simon, author of the book «Jupiter’s Travels». A lot of thoughts in this book were beaten to the point of my reflections. So this time, I felt like turbulence around my journey inspires other people to great ideas.

The next day I was invited to dine by William. He is the amazing person. I am increasingly convinced that the fate directs me to those who is an amazing diamonds in the soil of our sorrowful world. For dinner, it was a classic American steak, accompanied by gin. Then beer and Cuba Libre with the Caribbean rum. Here, again I do not even know how to describe this evening. In the twilight, in a room full of little beautiful things, to the accompaniment of classical music from a neighboring house, we talked about everything. About the people of the country, about music, about movies … Again, I felt happy, because everything inside me dragged to such kind of people, which can not be found in “normal” life. There is no end to the surprises that I feel in this strange journey. Could I imagine like that, when crossed the threshold of my house? Definitely not. All these thoughts inspire and lead me on, even despite the fact that my finances started to show the bottom of a purse … We will see …

09.08.2015 Bardou, France

I ride up on unsafe thin track. It climbs the hill, and I clamber over it. Finally, small flat ground and a lot of parked vehicles (hmm, I thought it would be a bit of tourists). I got to the Bardou – hidden deep in the mountains tiny village with a very unusual story. I find a place for a motorcycle and go above the trail. Behind the corner came first stone houses, which have found their place in the gorge slopes. From the nearest house shed gentle and slightly cantankerous piano melody. Under that accompaniment I come to sign with the word “Tavern” decorated with a feather.

Inside it is really a grand piano, which was played by a girl having collected a full house of grateful listeners. To Interrupt it occurs would be too rude, so I sat down and listen from the outside. Music is delightful and time flies. At one of the moments from the nearest corner comes a peacock who decides to share the melody with its own singing. It turns out very funny. Pleased himslef peacock leaves. I continue to admire the surroundings in a beautiful musical accompaniment. The look falls on the mini-poster nearby. What a coincidence! Piano player is my compatriot, Natalia Morozova. Trully you never able to guess what has been prepared by another turn.

After a while the music fell silent and I heard lengthy applause and after comes quietly served buffet. People go out with glasses in hand, eagerly discussing the performance. Among them, I try to guess Jean Rauch.

Jean Rauch and Klaus Erhardt, the wife and the husband, who in 1968 bought up all areas of the village. More precisely, of what was left of it. The village was abandoned for a long time, and its population was 1 person who owned 40% of the village. Owners of the remaining 60 had to look surprisingly at two people’s strange idea to buy a plot in a remote abandoned place. After that, the couple more than 25 years restored village bit by bit. Not without the help visitors. You could stay here any longer with meals three times a day. One condition – 6 hours a day for the benefit of the village. Village was visited by a great number of wonderful people, and the houses named after their restorators. Amazing place.

I waited until the general excitement of the performance comes a bit cooler and walked to the aged woman, which I’m guessing Jean Rauch (Klaus passed away in 2009). I introduced myself and conveyed regards from Uwe. My little story made a good impression, I was introduced to the guests and the performer; fed, watered and got the key to the small house where I now write these lines by candlelight. Outside, the wind howled and in combination with twilight sets a comfortable sleep.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a lot of things to do for a long time I did not worked by my hands for a long time.