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18 August 2017 / leggypeggy

Heading to Africa—with supplies and money

Boats in Gibraltar

A last look at the small fishing boats in Gibraltar

After several days of camping in southern Spain (see my previous post) it was time to collect the last of our fellow travellers—they were arriving on a flight from London to Gibraltar. Suddenly we were a group of 28 strangers on the road to Algeciras, Spain, which is where the ferry would depart for Africa.

We had a good chance to explore Algeciras. It’s a picturesque town with a fabulous and colourful market, a beautiful town square and some amusing advertising signs—Mona Lisa in curlers. We didn’t make big purchases in Algeciras (really just lunch).

Algeciras market

Colourful bounty in the Algeciras market

 

Our main shopping spree was going to be a three-hour ferry ride away in Ceuta, on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar. Interestingly enough, even though Ceuta is on the African continent, it is considered to be part of Spain. Go figure.

The Ceuta shopping was incredible because a warehouse there was geared up for bulk buyers. It may be a shopper’s paradise, but it must have its thieving side. I’d never before seen a vehicle chained to a building. 

Most of us headed in to the warehouse. As would become the norm, as least two people stayed behind to guard the truck. Then we proceeded to buy mega quantities of milk, cereal, oil, flour, sugar, spices, peanut butter, jam, pasta, tinned sausages. tinned tuna (geez we got sick of tuna), tinned tomato paste, tinned corn, pulses, oats and so much more that I can’t even remember.

I love chickpeas and figured they’d be a great way to ensure at least a bit of protein on our days to cook. So I convinced Chris, the driver, to let me buy something like 20 kilos of dried chickpeas. I used them often over the next months, but only later discovered that Chris hated them. Got to give him credit—he ate them anyway.

shopping in Ceuta

Heather considers what to buy in the huge warehouse in Ceuta

That shopping extravaganza cost about 3000 euros (if I remember rightly) and proved to be ten times more valuable as we travelled down the west side of Africa. Much of that part of the continent doesn’t (at least didn’t then) have supermarkets. Sometimes even the local markets had only limited supplies. I remember a small town in northern Angola  that had no shops and only a small market that sold mostly popcorn, peanuts, oranges, soft drinks and beer.

Trolleys of food

It took multiple trolleys to get everything to the truck

 

In Ceuta, once the trolleys were wheeled to the truck and everything was packed away, we headed to a petrol station to load up on diesel. It was a picturesque stop, but it took a very, very long time to pump 1500 litres. In the pic at the bottom, you can see the cost for the first 990 litres.

Then it was off to the border with Morocco and the city of Tétouan where my cook group would have its first foray into the local markets in Africa.

My next instalment will be a general introduction to the truck itself. I intended to do that today, but the pics of Algeciras and shopping won out.

Also there won’t be a continuous stream of African posts. I’ll need to mix in posts on Europe, India, Asia and the Americas.

But first a bit about the money.

Food shopping

Chris, our driver, with one of many trolleys of supplies

Trip costs and managing the money
Our trip took 43 weeks to go from Gibraltar to Istanbul. We actually arrived in Istanbul on time, even though along the way that seemed most unlikely.

This was eight years ago, and I no longer remember exactly how much the main trip cost. I think it was around $13,000–$14,000 (perhaps more) Australian dollars for both of us. Then there was the local payment of US$3600 for the both of us. The main payment was sent to the company office in the UK and the local payment was given to Chris, our driver.

So what was covered? The ride (43,000 kilometres), the driver (who had done it before and knew his stuff), two meals a day (usually breakfast and dinner) cooked by the passengers, fuel and camping gear such as tents (I loved my tent).

So what wasn’t covered? Visas, airfares, hotels or hostels (there were a few exceptions), insurance, drinks, lunches and other meals out, tips, guides and excursions (some were as cheap as $2 and one was $500).  

Euros and dollars

Banking is less straightforward in Africa. So the local payment was used for the everyday expenses such as that big shop in Ceuta, the fuel, campground fees, daily shops in markets, tyres (wait until you hear about the tyres), truck maintenance (remember my mention of George the radiator), bribes (yep, there were bribes) and much more.

For the year, Poor John and I took a credit card, about US$10,000 in cash and some euros. About a third of our cash was carried in a nifty belt I bought that was a mix of fabric and leather. A zipper ran down the middle of the inside of the belt and we folded $100 bills lengthwise and slipped them inside.

No one, and I mean no one, would have ever realised this belt was a gold mine. It worked really well until I lost 10 kilos and ran out of space to punch new holes in the belt. That didn’t matter too much because by the time I had lost most of the weight, we had spent quite a bit of the money and I could retire the belt. 🙂

The truck also had a hidden safe (called Trevor) and everyone stored money and valuables in the safe. Trevor had multiple keys and we took turns being responsible for them—couples couldn’t hold keys at the same time. No one ever had money or valuables go missing.

Tents

Our first camp in Africa

And some last comments about credit cards and the money.

First off, we didn’t run out of money. We hardly ever used the credit card until late in the trip. For some reason, the west side of Africa preferred Visa over MasterCard. We had only MasterCard. We applied for Visa before departure, but the bank mistakenly sent us another set of MasterCards. Ugh!

About the time we were travelling in 2009, we saw an article that said 1/3 of the US dollars in circulation outside the USA were counterfeit. Not surprisingly, we were told to bring only unmarked, crisp bills (no folds or tears) with dates of 2006 or later. I suspect these rules have been updated to specify much newer bills only.

Overall, we found that it was cheaper to travel than to stay at home. It helped that our daughters and one of their friends moved home to look after the house, garden and dogs.

 

82 Comments

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  1. Vicki / Aug 18 2017 4:06 pm

    Wow! 42 weeks on the road.

    (now that……puts my 9 week camping trip in Europe in 1976 to the bottom of the adventure ladder. Including the breakdown in what was then Yugoslavia, in the middle of nowhere, and the bite on my inner thigh in the cook tent, which we thought was a scorpion, ’cause only a couple of days before, we’d found a scorpion in our 3 man tent which I’d squashed with a tent-peg mallet).

    Fascinating to see how much food and diesel you had to buy. This is one adventure I can’t wait to hear more of. Interesting to hear that the truck had a hidden safe. Obviously you must have been venturing into some dangerous territory on that overland truck ride.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2017 7:26 pm

      Yikes, a scorpion bite. I hope it settled down quickly.

      The supplies were essential. Usually we could buy fresh fruit, veggies and eggs, but not always. And yes, some places were dangerous, but we always felt safe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vicki / Aug 18 2017 8:28 pm

        We could only assume what bit me. I felt enormous pain on my inner though and grabbed it to feel a crunching sensation. I whipped off my jeans quicker than you can “jack rabbit” and the males surrounding me said it was the quickest they’d ever seen anyone take off a pair of jeans LOL. Enormous bright red patch about 6″ across. We never found the insect, but my heart was beating a hundred times faster than usual. Apparently the bigger the scorpion, the less dangerous. It’s the small ones that are deadly (apparently).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vicki / Aug 18 2017 8:39 pm

        Just checking the O/s news and F/B on the terrorist attack – my God-daughter is living in Barcelona with her boyfriend not that far from La Sagrada Famillia – my heart dropped a beat, but she reported in as ‘safe’ 3 hours ago. Gosh, what an horrific attack.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2017 9:55 pm

        I’ve seen my share of scorpions on my travels, but never been bitten.

        It was a terrible attack in Barcelona. So good to know your goddaughter has reported in safe. These days we can’t know where we are safe, but it’s important to keep living and avoid fear-mongering.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. derrickjknight / Aug 18 2017 4:17 pm

    Fascinating record of a slightly scary trip

    Liked by 3 people

  3. gerard oosterman / Aug 18 2017 4:21 pm

    The strawberries are enormous in the photo. I feel like migrating to Ceuta and put a tent up in the middle of the strawberry patch.. Are they strict on border-control? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2017 7:29 pm

      Some of the best fruit I’ve ever had in my life was purchased on this trip. The strictness of border control depended on the country.

      Like

  4. IreneDesign2011 / Aug 18 2017 4:37 pm

    Wow Peggy, your long trip sounds amazing and challenging. I’m looking forward to read more 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. beetleypete / Aug 18 2017 4:47 pm

    Interesting that it was cheaper to travel rather than remain at home. That reminds me of some older people in the UK who move to Europe for the winter, and stay in hotels at off-peak rates. They claim it is cheaper to do that than pay to heat their house, and have to endure the bad weather. I am impressed by your adventure, though not envious of travelling in a truck, and camping. I would never be so hardy! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2017 7:33 pm

      I’m a fan of avoiding the bad weather dished out in winter. And yes, sometimes the camping wore very thin.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gilda Baxter / Aug 18 2017 4:59 pm

    Amazing adventure, did you follow a shopping list to ensure you got what was needed? Did everyone have to cook during the trip? How did you decide what to cook catering for food preferences or other dietary restrictions? The tents looked very small, but sounds like they were very comfortable? I can’t wait for the next chapter 😄

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2017 7:35 pm

      We didn’t shop to a list, but the driver had done the trip before so had a good idea. The driver and his sidekick didn’t cook, but everyone else had a turn. I’ll do a post soon on cook groups because there are some funny stories, and some frustrating ones too. Will also do one on the tents.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Green Global Trek / Aug 18 2017 5:14 pm

    Ahhh the food list has me shuddering, haha , except maybe for your chickpeas. Were there no fruit stores? What did the locals eat in the places you went? Argh canned tuna sounds too yuck for words. I would want to look forward to my meals on a big adventure like that!

    Wow that’s a lot of different personalities…interesting to hear how they gel…or not.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2017 7:37 pm

      We almost always could buy fresh fruit, veggies and eggs. But the supplies were a godsend in very remote places. And the personalities? There were some…or nots.

      Like

  8. robauz / Aug 18 2017 5:21 pm

    My favourite point was that the hidden safe was called Trevor.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Miriam / Aug 18 2017 5:24 pm

    Twenty kilos of dried chickpeas, wow, that’s a lot! What an adventure you’re having. So colorful and full of challenges at the same time. Look forward to seeing more pics. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2017 7:42 pm

      With 28 people on board, I used a kilo of chickpeas every time I cooked with them. And yes, Africa was colourful and full of challenges.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. dinosaursdonkeysandms / Aug 18 2017 7:25 pm

    Your trip sounds amazing! I also find it interesting that it was cheaper than staying at home, I would never have thought of that. 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2017 7:43 pm

      We didn’t realise it would be cheaper until we finished the trip, and still had money and not a big credit card bill.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. NiaFaraway / Aug 18 2017 7:30 pm

    amazing xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The Year I Touched My Toes / Aug 18 2017 7:53 pm

    HI Peggy I remember you telling us about this trip when we met. Yes 42 weeks is a long time. I look forward to as many posts you come up with on this one. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Madraasi / Aug 18 2017 8:14 pm

    Twenty kilos of chickpeas – full of protein. Great share, pictures are colourful.

    Like

  14. pvcann / Aug 18 2017 9:35 pm

    Beware women with mallets I say 🙂 loving the journey, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Osyth / Aug 18 2017 11:06 pm

    Never mind Poor John … Poor Chris and the chickpeas! There are so many out of this world details in this post I simply don’t know where to start except to say that there are trips and then there are trips. This is the start of a trip!! Can’t wait for the next installment but I shall relish all the other places you knit in between too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2017 11:26 pm

      Trust me, the chickpeas were much less of a burden for Poor Chris than managing George the Radiator and the rest of the herd.

      Stay tuned for an in-between.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Osyth / Aug 18 2017 11:37 pm

        Oh you are stuck with me Peggy – have no fear, I’m tuned!!! 🎶

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2017 11:46 pm

        Wait until you hear about Poor John getting lost in the early morning in the desert in Angola—or was it Namibia? Anyway, he was found.

        Like

  16. susan@onesmallwalk / Aug 19 2017 12:36 am

    LeggyP – so much of travel depends on the planning details, and too often we talk about only the sight-seeing. I really like that you’ve started with the nuts and bolts, and look forward to the rest 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 19 2017 9:27 am

      Thanks. It just seemed to make sense to start at the beginning. It also helps to put all our overland expeditions in to some sort of context.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Alison and Don / Aug 19 2017 5:26 am

    Oh this brings back so many memories. I travelled in the opposite direction – Johannesburg to Ceuta and only 4 months, and only 12 people. I can’t even imagine living that way for 10! I vaguely remember we did a huge shop in Jo’burg, and definitely did another in Nairobi. I can’t even imagine how you figured out how to buy that much food for that many people, and what to buy. I guess your fearless leader had a few clues. We too all had cooking duty.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 19 2017 9:34 am

      Alison, we were able to shop for fresh fruit and veg almost every day, so the supplies were really for times we were in remote locations or markets were closed or other ’emergencies’. We never did another big shop because the further south we went, the more reliable the shopping. Same was true going up the east. I’ll be writing about cooking duty. There are some amazing stories in that.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Phil Huston / Aug 19 2017 7:53 am

    The Spanish fruit and veg look a lot better than any but the most southern of Italy.

    “popcorn, peanuts, oranges, soft drinks and beer.” Are you sure you were in Africa and not Studio Movie Grill?

    Awesome truck. With names for all it’s peripherals! It needs its own Disney animation show. “Sfarai Truck”. Amazing stuff some of us will never see. Thanks!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Aug 19 2017 9:48 am

      Some of the best fruit and veg I’ve ever had in my life were bought in Africa. As for the Studio Movie Grill, I’ll post pics of that market when we get to Angola and you can be the judge.

      I loved that truck. It was the first of three on that trip and still the favourite of al the trucks I’ve travelled in. But the radiator was the only part that got named.

      Like

  19. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Aug 19 2017 9:54 am

    I don’t think this kind of travel is for the person who is new to Africa – I’d have to stay with a more traditional tour group. But who am I kidding – no African travel for me in this lifetime. Glad to know you felt safe.

    What about inoculations?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 19 2017 12:25 pm

      Oh my gosh, I’ve been inoculated for everything! Lots of people do short overlands,, covering the game parks of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Those are pretty easy to do. West Africa is the challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Chris Riley / Aug 19 2017 10:09 am

    42 weeks in a tent, you should get a medal. We spent two weeks in one to do the Gibb River. The tent was fine, but not having ‘a place for everything, so as everything could go in its place’, took its toll. I’m looking forward to reading about how you managed to keep your gear organised in the tent sufficiently so as to have remained sane for 42 weeks. And yes, that fruit, and those strawberries – looked good enough to eat for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 19 2017 12:26 pm

      There was no organising our stuff in the tent. We packed it up most days and our gear lived in boxes under our seats. Stay tuned and I’ll get to an explanation of that.

      Like

  21. mommermom / Aug 19 2017 11:43 am

    I do so enjoy all of your marvelous trips. Camping in Spain! How awesome is that? I love camping.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Aug 19 2017 12:28 pm

      Thanks. I love camping too, but some days a hotel is really desirable.

      Like

  22. Sheryl / Aug 20 2017 7:30 am

    The pictures and text are wonderful. It’s fun to be able to virtually enjoy your trip .

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Curt Mekemson / Aug 20 2017 8:56 am

    Loving it already, Peggy. “that had no shops and only a small market that sold mostly popcorn, peanuts, oranges, soft drinks and beer.” The basics, especially the beer! 🙂 –Curt

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Aug 20 2017 12:54 pm

      We were stuck there for four or five days and bought probably too much beer.

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson / Aug 21 2017 3:35 am

        I’m pretty sure that I would have suffered a similar fate! Of course that brings up the question, Peggy, of what constitutes too much? 🙂 –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Aug 21 2017 8:14 am

        With 20 of us descending on the town, the supplies ran out pretty quickly! Darn.

        Like

  24. chattykerry / Aug 20 2017 11:58 pm

    You really are intrepid, Peggy! We will need you when the zombie apocalypse happens or is that why Trump is so strange….🧟‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

  25. jeanleesworld / Aug 21 2017 12:09 pm

    I still can’t wrap my head around traveling for so long–I can barely handle traveling for a few days, but that’s mainly due to the kids and the job and….ugh, life. But, but but but, I’m sure my chance will come. You’ll most certainly be consulted when it’s time! 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 21 2017 8:51 pm

      Sometimes I have trouble wrapping my head around these long trips, but we manage to soldier on. It helps to travel with someone you know. love and trust.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld / Aug 21 2017 9:14 pm

        Gosh yes. I can’t fathom entering a journey like this solo. Plus it helps you’re so very amiable and understanding. 🙂 xxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Aug 21 2017 9:21 pm

        Easy-going is a must. 🙂

        Like

  26. lexklein / Aug 21 2017 12:14 pm

    Just looking at that truck gives me goosebumps of desire to take that trip! Are you sure you can’t just post about this trip for the next year or so?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 21 2017 8:52 pm

      Trust me, it will take a year to get it all out—mixed in with other places as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. rhythminlife / Aug 22 2017 1:31 am

    Enjoy your stay . I just love how adventurous you are!!!. 💝💝💝🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Anita / Aug 22 2017 7:41 pm

    Wow that is very fascinating, thank you so much for sharing us
    Have a very nice day
    Kisses

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Garfield Hug / Aug 22 2017 11:52 pm

    Amazing! Brave! All the best😊

    Liked by 1 person

  30. loshame / Aug 23 2017 8:07 pm

    I like that 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  31. milliethom / Aug 28 2017 8:58 pm

    I can’t begin to imagine a camping trip lasting so long, but evidently, you not only survived it but thoroughly enjoyed it. Great to hear about how everything was organised – food, money the truck etcetera and to take a peek at that huge supermarket. And I agree, why Cueta should be considered part of Spain is a bit mind boggling. Your money belt sounds a great idea, especially on a trip like that and your memory of eight years ago is serving you well Peggy. Your photos are fabulous as always. Three cheers for the chickpeas!.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 28 2017 10:23 pm

      Thanks Millie. That belt offered so much peace of mind. I’m still making chickpeas dishes at every opportunity.

      Like

  32. MichaelStephenWills / Sep 9 2017 8:54 pm

    What an experience. Chickpeas were a great choice. Travelling cheaper than being home? You sound like a friend of mine who claimed eating out was cheaper than homemade. Ha ha. Thank you for the practical advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 9 2017 11:21 pm

      Being realistic, travelling in Africa is much cheaper than staying at home in Australia. Eating out in Australia is definitely NOT cheaper than eating at home In Australia. We had lunch out with friends today. It was $40 for the two of us. Last night’s dinner at home (and it was on the deluxe side) was less that $20 for the two of us and with enough leftovers for a repeat tonight.

      Like

  33. amindfultravellerblog / Sep 11 2017 7:42 am

    Sounds like an amazing adventure you will never forget Peggy. I love the colours throughout your photos. I love chickpeas too and would happily eat kilos of them! I’m sure you would have used them all! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 11 2017 11:46 am

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m a sucker for colour AND chickpeas. I was about the only one who cooked with them, but I used a kilo of them every time.

      Liked by 1 person

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