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Cycling to Africa- More Mediterranean islands

10:00 20th August 2013 By Pavel Trcala
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Pavel continues his recovery cycle inching towards Africa. This time he makes it to Sicily.

Cycling to the open beaches of Sicily

Cycling to the open beaches of Sicily

Practically all the time in Sardinia I was racing with the time – with one big goal – to catch the ferry to Sicily.  It was running only once a week and if I were to wait for a week, I would probably have to do a lap around the island, if I wanted to adhere to my rule of staying only one day at a certain place.  I did manage to get on the ferry to Sicily and suddenly I did not have to watch the mileage and time.

Sleeping outside at the campground I woke up very early. Mohamed from the Ivory Coast was just beginning his morning shift. Mohamed told me how he escaped from the country that was once the pride of West Africa.  Yes, thirty years ago, they used to call Abijan the Paris of West Africa.  This country rich with natural resources and agricultural products was indeed prosperous.  Well, it is not the case anymore and many people try to leave the poverty and civil conflict. Mohamed rode in the backs of trucks across the Sahara. When he got to Libya, he crossed over by boat to the Italian island of Lampedusa, as many other African immigrants do every other day.  And I can relate to his experience. Once I crossed West Africa hitchhiking on trucks, motorcycles, off-road vehicles. In Ivory Coast, which was then in a civil war, I could not get a visa or stamp in my passport, so I had to travel in the land of rifles and machine guns with a worry not unlike when Mohamed was penetrating into Europe. The difference was that I only travelled to discover and for adventure, while Mohamed travelled in search of better economic prospects for his life and that of his family.

When I left the campground, I did not really know where to go. According to information available on the internet, there were ferries to Tunisia from two places. I could either go from the same port that I arrived at, Trapani, or I was teased by the idea of sailing to the small Italian island of Pantelleria, and then going from there to Africa.  There was information about that ferry on the internet, but it was not possible to book it. Whether the ferry from Pantelleria to Africa was still in operation was not possible to find anywhere on the web and even the travel agencies did not know.

Anyway, I had at least a few days before the departure of the ferry to Tunisia and so I began to explore the western part of Sicily. But where to go first? My new friends Gwyn and Marian invited me to come to San Vito Lo Capo, where there was supposedly some beautiful dramatic coastline. Well, so I went to this northwest tip of the largest Mediterranean island.

The day before I arrived by the ship in Sicily just before nightfall, so I did not see much of the island in daylight. The first morning was shocking. Compared to Sardinia, Sicily is dirty! I saw garbage everywhere and it was just a warm-up.  Instead of seeing untouched nature, there were mid-cut hills everywhere.  I was in the territory of marble extraction.  Many lorries with pieces of stone larger than a passenger car passed me on the road.  In this part of the world, even the curbs on the side of the road are made of marble.

When I descended to Casteluzzo I was met by nature very different to that of Corsica and Sardinia. Everything was dry and bare. Beaches were not emerald as in Costa Smeralda. Even so, the landscape was breath-taking with huge cliffs on all sides. The village of San Vito looked almost as if it were an island.  It was accessible only by one road.  While the other villages along the road were definitely not suitable for a holiday, in San Vito there was a lively tourist activity.

I searched for a library, but to no avail.  There was a tourist office in town, but it was open only in the evenings. I was lucky when I found a campground restaurant with a computer and I was able to have a working lunch – actually extended into the afternoon. Thanks to a good connection I was able to even catch up on some work.

During the day, I saw different campgrounds, but I had not seen Gwen and Marian. I was ready to swim and leave town when I met them on my way to the water. “You should stay with us until tomorrow, you deserve to relax a bit.”

I swam across the bay of San Vito and to see this village under the huge rock directly from the water was a completely different experience.

Marian grilled the best steak I have had on my trip and it reminded me of Argentina, where they eat steaks almost every day. And I did not even know that the next day would also remind me of Argentina.  Thanks to Gwen and Marian I suddenly was not alone, but felt like on a family vacation.

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