Last Day in Tarifa

I can’t believe we are up to our last day in this lovely little Spanish beach town. 

We spent the day quietly. The other swimmers have gone so it’s just the 7 in our group. 

The only downside was my card being eaten by the bank last night. It’s my Qantas Club debit card which I loaded with euros before we left. So this morning I went to the bank where a non English looking rock star , doubling as a bank teller, told me in hand signs and a ‘I couldn’t give a {%££#>!!!! About your card. I pleaded for them to look in the machine but he wasn’t interested! So on returning to our riad,  Pia our landlady who happened to be here,  said she would go to the bank and talk in Spanish to find out what happened. Senior ‘I couldn’t give a %}>>€%> ‘ gave a practised shrug and rattled off in Spanish the explanation. All left cards get dropped into a locked box even the bank can’t open It’s collected once a week and cards are shredded. Nice! 

Meanwhile John Donati whose card was swallowed at another bank got his back no trouble. So I have suspended the card and have my cash sitting unable to be used! At least I’ll have money on my return. 

So the rest of the day was peaceful with strolling the streets, a little shopping, a swim, a Sangria at our lovely white cafe at the beach, ice cream – my first! Packing and drinks on the roof terrace eating John Donati’s mothers’ fudge. Goes great with red wine. 

 Then our last dinner as a group at a very crowded tapas bar. Here you have to be prepared to wait for a table -even when you book. You stand in the narrow street drinking wine and trying to blend into the mostly young crowd. I love it. 

So our week has been fantastic: 

Swims to Africa, tension over weather and the team combinations, group dinners, sangria, hot days, cool breezes, red wine, churros and hot chocolate, late nights, later morning starts, more sangria, ice cream, laughter, friendship, swimming, walking, eating, drinking, day trips to interesting places, watching sunsets and swooning, fresh tuna, market visits, cocktails and fudge on the terrace, group photos, flag waving, newspaper photos, the morning parade of revellers past our riad sounding like the end of a football match, more laughter and stories, pink pigs, sun hats and everlasting memories. 

 Oh what a week. 


Farewell Tarifa  

Day in Cadiz

What a great time we had today with Lisa and John in Cadiz. We set off in the early morning light not long after the last of the towns party goers were making their way home! It took 1 -1/2 hrs in a comfortable coach to get there and we arrived to lots of blue water and shining sun. 

Cadiz is on a peninsula and is set out in barrio of small street and lots of green parks with fountains. It’s easy to walk around and they are well set up for tourists, supplying you with a walking tour map with 4 colour coded walks around the town. The colour is then painted on the footpath and you can follow along if you want. 

The architecture is amazing. Quite decorative but not too over the top. 

We stopped along the way for refreshments. 

and tapas. 

The markets were clean and bright and full of life. These Spainards are an entertaining lot. 

We headed back to Tarifa for our last night on the town. Last dinner with great friends. Rob and Jordan had returned from Granada and we had a last drink with Dan, Chris and Paul. Beautiful Yves had left during the day to meet up with Francesco our lovely Italian guide from last year. They are doing a swim trekking adventure in Greece. What a life Yves has 


 Yves with Dan. 

So it’s with sadness we bid our friends farewell. 


Chris Masek, Dan Garr, Yves Watt and Ben Masek crossed in 5 hr 40 min. 

Steve , Rob, Cameron Votan and Chris Gretch crossed in 4 Hr 40. Might effort. 

A big day out

Off we went to Cadiz at 8 in the morning. OMG. They are only returning from the nightclub /  bars at 7 and there we were going to the bus stop at 8. But arriving in Cadiz at 9.30 for breakfast, in a  beautiful plaza we knew we’d made the right decision. We were there with Lisa and John , Jordan’s parents, after a big night out at “puncamama.” It’s a bar / restaurant/ pool party/ rave.

We had mojto. You know the song. 1 mojito 2 mojiti 3 mojito , floor. Well it was a bit like that. So it was hard to get up at 7 to get the bus at 8. I nearly piked but I’m glad I didn’t. It’s a lovely small city with lots to see and surrounded by water.

We walked all day as Lisa’s fitbit counted the steps. Easily 10,000 + steps. We had a few stops for refreshments , and  lunch at a tapas bar. With Sangria. I have nothing but admiration for Steve who has an eye problem and a really swollen hand after the epic swim to Africa.  But a beer or Sangria always help.

We got back to Tarifa round 6 then had drinks on  the  terrace at 7 with the swimmers before Rob, Jordan and Cameron  got back from Granada. Then dinner and drinks.

We signed photos, shirts, maps. We hugged and cried and promised to meet for another swim.

It’s amazing how you bond with people you swim with. They are strong,  focused,  committed, but so different. Gay Chris from London, Dan from LA , a legend of invention who loves to surf : brothers Ben and Chris. Then the Aussies. Steve, Rob and Cameron. And not forgetting beautiful Yves. It’s a memorable time. Very bonding.

It’s time to say farewell TL the next adventure.

But the holiday adventures continue – but now just the kids, the parents and us.   Not forgetting Cameron.

Tomorrow’s the last day   Can’t believe it.

Day in Tangiers. Morocco

  Some of the group thought it would be a good idea to visit Morocco by boat instead of swimming. So I found a man in the little shop nearby who happened to run private day tours. His name is Aziz Saint Laurent – as in the fashion designer ! 

So as the swim was off we headed off on the 10am ferry. Not with out drama though, Yves and Dan were coming with us and as they  had been out on the party scene last night ( with Cameron and Rob )they  were more than a little tired. Yves just made the ferry but Dan missed it and had to get the second one at 12. 

We were met with Mr Saint Lauent himself who promptly told us he was No 1 guide in Morroco. He was quite a character and one of the first stops was one of the oldest more palatial hotels in Tangiers. Hanging on the walls were photos of the famous people who had stayed there,  so when we spotted Yves Saint Laurent it was the perfect photo opportunity. Aziz jumped at the chance for a photo with himself and Yves in front of the photo so we had Yves Saint Laurent! 

We visited a beautiful cafe, full of locals all sipping on their mint tea. It was somewhat different to see women there. Often it is just men out sitting in cafes. But these days women are getting out and about. Many still in head scarves. 

We continued the tour into the Casbar. The Casbar is the old fort And couldn’t stop singing the song. You know it.  Go on sing it now!!!!!

Then onto the Medina the living working area ,  where we had the obligatory trip to the carpet place and the plates, lamps and odds and sods things. The carpet show was particularly spectacular. It involved a man talking about the carpets and another man waving them around like they were magic carpets! They tried had for a sales but our group were impervious to their suggestions. 

Lunch was in rather nice restaurant overlooking Tangiers and involved tangines and couscous.

We wandered the alley ways of the medina trying to look like locals, unsuccesfully – and had a few attempts at engaging with the locals. i think they are weary of the low spending tourist like us. but Aziz our trusty guide persisted until I said. ” no more please. we are not spenders”

We detoured to the beach and marvelled at the way they dont care for their public spaces like we do ! the beaches were long and open and could only be reached by long sets of stairs. Some of the group decided on a camel ride. Poor camels i say!
We didnt get back to Tarifa till about 9.30. We’re developing into locals with the times we are arriving at dinner.

So after a long day of sight seeing , we arrived back to the wharf at about 9.15. Is that too late for dinner I hear you ask? apparently not.


My amazing boys 

The red team. Cameron Steve Chris ( from London) Rob

Lisa John and Jordan Dontai, myself, Yves and Paul 

Jordan’s parents Lisa and John and Rob. Sunset at the beach celebration 

Fun time to celebrate the mighty swim

Chris, Rob, Cameron,Steve, Dan and Yves

Big day for a big swim

Once again up early preparing for the swim to Africa. Eggs for protein, hot tea for the core warm, stretching, lots of fluids. Everyone was in good spirits and determined that today the swim would happen. Down to the port by 11. Love this Spainish time frame. Seems too late to be swimming. But here it all depends on the tides and what the currents are doing. The swimmers the other day said they couldn’t believe how fast the currents ran and getting across them was the difficult part. 

I was going along with Jordan and Paul, Chris G’s partner. Yves wanted to go as well and the boats captain said only 3. So I made the decision to let Yves take my spot. Not because I didn’t want to be in a rocking boat for 6 hrs in the wind, but because Yves has much more experience as a support person when it comes to feeding the swimmers, supporting them, and dealing with any emergency. 

So sadly I waved them ( and the key to my bedroom) off. Good luck my boys. 

To fill in the time I went with Dan, John and Lisa to Gibraltar to see the apes on the Rock. Great fun but I was so nervous all day waiting on news. We could see across the channel to Africa and it looked a long way off. 

We had a ship tracker so when we could get reception we could see when the boat was. 

Just after 4.30 I heard from Yves. They had finished!  They swam 17.50 km. ( the other group two days before missed the first landing point due to currents and swam 23km) they did a great time. Awesome men. What I didn’t know till we met them at the port was that Steve had missed the last 500 metres. He hit the wall and couldn’t stay in the water. It’s against the rules to assist, otherwise wonderful Rob would have carried him to the rock. It was difficult to accept that decision because the support dingy had broken down and they missed their last feed and were pushed to the limit. Rob, Cameron and Chris G had stayed with Steve the whole time until the boat captain said he had to leave the water. But in every bodies eyes he had finished. He was metres from the rocky shore of  Africa. 


After a two hr recovery time in our rooms, we met for Moët at the white beach cafe to watch the sunset and celebrate. What an achievement. 

Then a lovely dinner at a great restaurant Rob had booked. 

Great friends, great  fun, great night. 

All creamed up and no where to go

Disappointment this morning. We arrived at the port and there was a lot of discussion and finally Rafael and the boat captain said it was way too windy and they said it would be too dangerous. So the swim is cancelled. 

Rob hearing the bad news and trying to talk Rafael into going.

 But no………. Perhaps Sunday when the wind has gone. Real anticlimax for the red team. Yellow team were disappointed for them but I think secretly happy they went first yesterday. 

So off to the White cafe for coffee/ breakfast. Steve ,Rob, Cameron and Chris had a swim at the very cold beach and it was painfully cold Steve said. 

Rob and Cameron all creamed ready to go. 

So more apprehension as we now wait till Sunday! I guess we always knew it could be a wait. But to have one team finish is making it hard. Oh well. 

Now we are planning what we’ll do for the next day or two and get ready again! 

Morning of the swim

I got up fairly early for here – my nerves are on edge I think. I just want it over. 

I went for a walk to find eggs ! It’s hard to know how much they want to eat before such a big swim. They need a fair bit but neither like to eat much before a swim but they will be going for 5 hours or so. I just hope the currents haven’t got worse and they get swept too far along the coast. 

The walk through Tarifa this morning was lovely. It’s quiet and peaceful. Unlike at night. Tarifa is a typical Spanish town that comes to life at night. We haven’t been eating till 9.30 and that’s early by comparison. We see families just arriving when we are on our way back home. I have a feeling that when the swim is done Rob and Jordan will join the partying people. Perhaps not the ones who walk past our window at 1am on their way down into the town. The bars must close around 7 am because we hear them returning  as we’re waking up. There is a lot of singing, calling out Hola Hola! This is the price you pay for staying in the old town, but it’s the best place to be. So alive,  so colourful,  so much fun. 

This is the boat we’ll take off on today. Wish us luck!