With about 7 hours left on the ferry I am pondering, reflecting, thinking.

Have I enjoyed my mini adventure? Immensely! Memories made.

29 years ago I traveled across Europe by rail with two close friends. One of which is sadly no longer with us in person. I wish I had kept a journal. The memories are fantastic, however the details fade. Hence my notes now.

We are here for an indeterminate amount of time. You cannot live everyday like it’s your last but we can make better use of our time here. Like Mick Extance, the most successful British Dakar rider ever, competes in the event again at 57 to show the world a ‘touch and go’ 15 hour brain operation should not stop you doing what you love doing.

Riding is better in the sunshine. So are most things. Don’t let a bit of torrential rain stop you. A fair analogy to life?

Traveling, seeing new things, observing cultural differences is good for you I believe. Traveling alone is a mixed bag. Ultimately you can do what you like, however a lack of companionship can sometimes affect your mood. To ride at your own pace, slowing to appreciate eagles and vultures overhead and not hanging off someone else’s brake lights is how it should be.

In a group, typically, you do the most popular option. Group dynamics could get annoying too I’d imagine.

On the ferry out there was a group of about 9 BMW GS riders. 40-60 years old. A BMW GS, with GS pants and socks I would imagine. Nothing wrong with that. However, one of the bunch, was an arrogant gobshite. Drunk, swearing and talking at a volume significantly higher than necessary. Slagging off foreigners, when you’re on a French boat, traveling to Spain is embarrassing. A ‘Gammon’ is the word now used to describe such people. If I had to spend a day in his company I would not have enjoyed it. Thankfully I didn’t. Twat.

My route, although very slightly influenced by someone who had experience of the area (gratefully received), was my decision. It worked out perfectly all things considered. I could have done things differently, but I wouldn’t have changed it. Madrid, Seville, Valencia etc. are for another time. A road trip (on 4 wheels), with Mrs B (and all or some of the little Bs too) to see such places would be marvelous. Maybe one day even a Camino adventure.

The preparation, route planning, anticipation, anxiety, panic, excitement, visualisation of what was coming etc. were all part of the experience. Time on your own is difficult but necessary, for me anyway. No TV, radio, little internet. Just your own thoughts.

We all have our demons and fears. They are real, even if irrationalal. Others may not be aware or appreciate them. We are all different. We need to be kind to each other and ourselves.

Mr Extance was telling me that prior to boarding the Ferry from Morocco to Spain he was set-up. A fake van inspection and a young lad jumped in the back and hid amongst his stuff. He suspected something was not right. He got to the police check and had a scan prior, to discover a 16yr old boy in one of his large holdalls. He closed the van and informed the police. The police got the boy out. The boy expressed a sincere apology to Mick and his partner. He was frightened. He had nothing to his name. He wanted a better life. To maybe pick fruit or wash cars at an exploitative rate of pay. Desperate.

Many people risk their lives in search of a better existence. How bad must their situation be? A significant proportion of the UK see such desperate souls (well educated, multilingual folk too) as an invasion of their precious island. Vitriolic hate spread across newspapers and social media, blaming various issues on immigration with little evidence or blatant lies. Racism dressed up as something more acceptable. The attention the likes of Katie Hopkins and Tommy Robinson get is very sad. What is also sad is that they make a decent income from their blinkered followers.

A slight political tangent, however my point is, we must have understanding and empathy. Regardless of skin colour, country of birth, religious beliefs. Be nicer to people. We have no idea what issues they have. Make them feel welcome. Statistically people who are kinder to others are in general happier. We all want to be happier don’t we?

As corny inspirational sentences go, one I can confirm to be true – Four wheels may move the body, but 2 wheels definitely move the soul!

Adiós por ahora damas y caballeros