Well, to celebrate the last weekend before exams begin naturally Carly and I spent the weekend inside with our heads in our books studying.
Actually, we did the exact opposite.
Carly and I made plans to go to Tarifa on Friday but since the forecast predicted a good beach day we altered our plans and slept in until about 11 o’clock, laid around the house and then around one o'clock headed to the beach with our friend Alex. It really was a good day to lay at the beach and, in all honesty, I haven’t actually been to the beach to just lay around since about October. I go to the beach all the time but usually I’m running or walking along it, very rarely do I ever just go and sit. I don’t really like just lying there and sweating and getting all sandy and getting sand all over my stuff and I always say, “Oh yeah I can lay on the beach and study!” but that never happens.
Friday, however, there was a little breeze so you didn't just lay there and sweat and bake under the sun. Carly
and I played paddleball for about an hour and a half…and we only stood about three feet away from each other so I’m really amazed we kept ourselves entertained with it.
We headed back home around five or so but only after Yeyo (a Spanish friend of ours) picked Carly up and threw her into the ocean fully clothed, haha! We then spent the rest of the night just lying around the house. Incredibly productive day if you ask me.
Really we just hung around the house because we were up at 6am the next morning to get ready to catch our 7am bus to Tarifa. I think in my Gibraltar blog way back in September I said that Europa Point was the southernmost point in Europe. I just said that because we all assumed Europa Point was the southernmost point in Europe, mostly because of its name. Clearly none of us bothered to look at a map, haha! The truth is that Tarifa is as far south as you can go on continental Europe. There is a lighthouse on a small island that is actually the southernmost
point, but of course it was gated off
so Carly and I settled for its gates and now we can say that we have been as far south as tourists are allowed
to go in Europe. 😊
I've wanted to make a trip to Tarifa for a while but just haven’t found the time, or anybody else who wanted to go, until now. So Carly and I took a roomie trip and it turned out to be a lot of fun! Tarifa is only about an hour away from Cádiz so we decided to get up early so we didn’t have to battle the wind in the afternoon. Tarifa is one of the most famous windsurfing and kite surfing spots in the world do to the strong cross winds. Another interesting fact about the strait is that due to the high salinity of the water in the Mediterranean the waters around the strait of Gibraltar are high in nutrients and therefore high in food and therefore attract sea life from the Atlantic. We heard about a company that does trips out into the strait to see the marine life for fairly cheap so we made a reservation. We had 45 minutes of an information session about the
strait and the large marine animals that live in the strait, or migrate through, then two hours out on the boat.
Most of the marine life actually lives on the Morocco side of the strait so it took about 20 minutes to get there. I've been down along the southern coast a few times, actually I was just down there last week on my amazing field trip, but I still can’t get used to looking across the water and seeing Africa. Africa!
I don’t know how many times Carly and I were walking around town and I would say “Look! Carly I can’t believe that’s actually Africa!
” She’s already been across the strait to Tangier so she really didn't find it as cool, haha!
The first animals we saw were some Common Dolphins, which are actually quite rare now because they live in direct competition with humans, and unfortunately we always win. As you can probably guess, most of the animals are fairly rare now. They made it pretty clear we would be lucky to see anything. A few years ago in 2008 they built a new port on the Morocco side and due to all
of the noise (which by the way the strait of Gibraltar is the noisiest sea passage in the world) and boat traffic it stressed out the animals so much a virus started to wipe them out in rather large numbers. The sperm whale we saw suffered the largest loss with their numbers dropping from 300 to 250, and when it’s an endangered species losing 50 whales is a lot.
We got to see all of the types of animals that are "common" in the strait, but there are some that only come to/through it later in the summer: the Killer Whale and the Fin Whale. The Fin Whale is the second largest whale only after the Blue Whale and actually it is present in the strait all year round, but they surface so rarely and their populations have dropped so much they are rarely seen. The Killer Whale is only in the strait in July and August, and their favorite food happens to be tuna, the most fished fish in the strait. Therefore, they too live in direct competition with humans and in some parts of the world fisherman have resulted to dynamite to get rid of
Definitely in a better mood in el campo. :)
them. What the Orcas have learned to do is follow around fisherman and when they get a bite the whales come up and bite the tuna off the line and leave the head so they don't get hooked themselves. Pretty smart, eh? But it puts the fisherman in a foul mood therefore putting the whales in danger.
We also saw Long-finned Pilot Whales and Bottle-nosed Dolphins (which are the ones we know from sea world). At one point a large ship passed by us and the dolphins were out in front of it jumping, sort of like at the beginning of Titanic right before Jack says that he’s the king of the world! I took a video, but it turned out sort of blurry…I’ll post it anyways. Unfortunately towards the end of our boat trip Carly and I both started feeling sea sick.
We got our land legs back and shopped for a while before trying to find lunch, which at first I thought was going to be impossible when we got to the first plaza and it was absolutely packed. We walked just a few meters over the next plaza which had a
totally empty Mexican restaurant. Why it was empty we will never know because they had the best nachos and guacamole I’ve ever had. 😊
By 4o’clock we were back on the bus and home by 5:30 only to do what we seemed to do best this weekend and lay in our beds and watch a movie with real Nebraska popcorn that I still had hidden away in my suitcase from Christmas.
Today we woke up and Selu came and got me, Carly and Alba to take us out to “el campo” (the country) where Selu has been renovating a small house outside of Cádiz in the small town of Chiclana. Selu and Pepa had been there since Friday already, but Carly and I have been curious to see it. We hear about it a lot since Selu is always out there working on it and Pepa loves to go there to relax, but only just recently has it been ready for any visitors. He was actually still unsure if he wanted us to come because the outside isn’t done yet and he thought we would be bored. It was great! It’s such a cute little two-bedroom
house and you can tell that Selu is taking the time to really make it is nice place.
Carly, Alba and I simply got out of bed in the morning, got in the car, got to Selu’s house, only to lie back down again on beach chairs, haha! We laid there until lunch talking, got up to get things ready for lunch, ate, then laid on the couch and watched TV. Well, I
watched TV. Alba was out until 8am the night before so she was only going on about an hour and a half of sleep and Carly, well, Carly always falls asleep. I have to admit I was close. I was having trouble keeping my eyes open until I heard a familiar melody on the television. The Harry Potter theme song. Harry Potter y La Piedra de la Filosofal (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) was on TV and now I was awake. Who doesn't love some Harry Potter?
All in all it was a really nice day. You can tell Pepa and Selu (as well as the dogs) really prefer to be out of the city and in the quiet countryside.
Alba prefers city life, but Carly and I got to spend a lot of time hanging out with Alba, which is rare since back in the city she is always coming and going with school and her friends and such. As a matter of fact, Carly and her (and I…apparently) are going to get their ears pierced on Friday. Nothing crazy, just double piercings. I’m trying to decide if that would be a waste of money since I really never wear earrings anymore. I know my Dad is looking at his computer nodding his head and saying “Yes. Yes, more holes in your body is
a waste of money.” I remember when I went with a few of my friends to get piercings in Costa Rica and I told my host mom where I was going and she looked at me like “Oh please don’t do anything that is going to make your parents call me when you get home,” and I promised I would come back just as I left, which I did. Pepa also doesn't like piercings or tattoos (again Dad is nodding his head saying, “Good Pepa!”) but she lets us make our own decisions so Wednesday
we’ll see what Carly and Alba come back with!
Love and miss you all!
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