A few nice hippie van road trip images I found:
Image by gloucester2gaza
The crew have sent a diary of their trip –
as we arrived in ostend at about 12.30 in the morning, we were already tired an the tents that had been promised had not turned up either, so things were starting to look a little bleak, so we decided to drive for a bit towards Paris and then crash out in a hotel, after driving for two hours, we _(our part of the convoy parked up on a service station having no luck driven roun bruges looking for a hotel( parked up in a service station an got 3 hours sleep in the van…. taste of thing to come, then we hit the road again and drove past Paris to begles in Bordeaux where we arrived at 1.00am Monday morning,
we were put up in a local community centre by the locals who arranged for food and somewhere to sleep , and we were to leave as a whole convoy at 10 am, but one of our vans broke down, the convoy left without us and we stayed on in bagel all day trying to see if we could fix it, and then we decided to get another, and that two vans would go on to catch up with the rest of the convoy, whilst farook bhai and abbey would stay and get a van and then catch us up, I will let them tell u the story of the hospitality and help that the locals gave to us , so the two vans left bagel at 11 pm to drive to Spain to catch up the rest of the convoy,
driving through the night into Spain and then crashing out in a service station in the van again in freezing conditions was not really the exotic idea I had when I left for this convoy, but the reality of the situation was starting to sink in with all of us, and also being split from our group didn’t help us feel any better, but we knew we were on a mission so we soldiered on taken in the landscape and beautiful view of Spain until Cordoba when it got dark, and was sad that we had to carry on driving through the night again to get to tarifa as we were missing out on all the scenery, we managed to catch up with our group, as they were on the side of the motorway, an ambulance had broken down, and after praying and a can of Baxter’s soup we were on the way again, getting split up from our group again and going to tarifa different ways arriving at 3 in the morning
went to sleep in the ferry ports office for two hours in our sleeping bags, before getting our tickets and then going through customs leaving Europe on the ferry arriving in Tangiers at 10 am, and then being sniffer dogged , x-rayed (that’s just the vans!( George Galloway turned up and gave a press conference in front of our van (again( and after waiting for 5 hours we were eventually police escorted to a large country club for dinner on the governments expense, but before that we were given what looked like a heroes welcome by the people on the roads of Tangiers, making the tiredness go away, felt guilty as we were on a mission to take aid to GAZA, large reception at the country club with tagine (first hot meal since leaving home, ) and then we thought sleep was on the agenda, but not the case as we left at 6pm and drove 260 through thick fog arriving at fez at 4am
large hotel was arranged for the whole group and jus being able to have a shower and sleep in the bed was a welcome relief for us all, along with the fact that the other two drivers from Gloucester had caught us up and arrived at the hotel in the afternoon, day spent getting the vans ready, mechanics in, refuelling, changing money and also being able to come in to Fez and having a quick browse through the souks, and also having to put all this down now, so hopefully we will have a daily if not every two days worth of material from other members of the group as well. We will be setting of at 7 am tomorrow to Oujda through the base of the Atlas Mountains……….
After a night of rest and an early morning breakfast at 6.30am we were supposed to be ready and hit the road at 7am but due to typical multinational timing clashing we finally hit the road at ten. There was heavy police presence that also escorted and split us in to manageable groups. The view around fez and the plateaus and of course not to mention the foothills of the Atlas Mountains was breathtaking and would suggest a sight to be visited. every town we passed through, people lined up along the roads waving, cheering and showing the peace sign, showing us their support and appreciation of what we are doing support for the cause. We stopped for salatul Ju’mah in the town of taza, outside the masjid itself. We sat down as the khutbah started like any other ju’mah salat until the imam mentioned the convoy in his bayan and prayed for the people of Gaza. After we came out of the masjid there was a big crowd of people around all the convoy vehicles wishing us well on our journey and some people even gave us dirhams for the people of Gaza we soon departed from there stopping at a town called guercif for a reception organised by a close contact of Viva Palestina in that town who has been working tirelessly to host us. As we were running a day behind he actually made preparations to feed us yesterday and he insisted that we visit him he re-arranged all the food and staff for today, it was no small feat feeding a group of over 250 people with a three course meal and waiters on hand at his own personal residence (which was quite large and surrounded by acres of olive trees). We carried on further to another reception by the mayor of Oujda near t6he border and then managed to get a hotel room for the night at 2am. For a North African country we expected it to be hot, at least warm, but we were all still wearing our coats as it is still very chilly. We left at 7 am and then queued up in the convoy driving three km to the border between Algeria and morocco which the respective governments opened for the first time after 15 years, which shows the extent that they were prepared to go to help us. At the border we spent the whole day, until 9pm waiting for our documents to be processed, which without computers and groups of their customs officers who have never experienced anything of this sort before was to be expected and made us realise how lucky we are in our country to be able to be passing through borders with such ease. We eventually left the border and the numbers of Algerians showing support lined up just outside the borders was tremendous. every town we drove through there were as many people cheering and clapping us through, making us feel welcome and humbled as this was not because of who were, but what we were doing and we did not want the acknowledgement for us, but for the people to feel connected to the people suffering in Gaza., as we had been travelling with very little sleep and in confined spaces of our vehicles, tempers would flare occasionally in the convoy, and even amongst our group we had issues about team involvement skills, as we were being pushed to the limits of our endurance, the need to pull together as a team was never so important. And as members questioned others commitment to the group, a firm reminder of the purpose of this mission was reiterated without mincing words, and people started to pull together as a team.
We travelled on until 1 am and parked in a large car park where we pitched up a 6 man tent that we had practise with whilst waiting at the border. It was cold again and the seven of us as well another fellow traveller snuggled up for the night after warming up a can of soup and sharing a few morsels amongst the group. toilet facilities were there inn the bushes, just keeping an eye out for snakes and scorpions quickly got ready to hit the road again, not knowing when we will stop or for how long, so we made our coffees on the vans and hit the road in a convoy, covering over 650 km passing maghnia, oran, mostagennem, alger – the capital ) and then stopping at tibaz .This was one the hardest drives we had, driving until 4 am Monday morning, every time we went through a town, we had to slow due to the crowds of people in each town, we would occasionally get drinks and food given to us by passer bys and they would also descend up the vans with their marker pens to leave their messages for the Gaza people on the vans, they would also ask us in their broken English/French and us in our broken French/Arabic to convey their salaams to the people of Gaza and that the Gaza people were in their duaas.
The Algerian govt had also sorted out free petrol for the convoy; they must have rivers of the stuff flowing round here….! locals have helped convoy members whose vans have broken down to get them up and running again, the governor of tibiza, where we eventually stopped for the night, personally came and took us on a tour of a roman amphitheatre on the coast of the Mediterranean, where the Romans would watch duels and fights similar to that of Crowe in gladiator, except that this was one of the real locations. The ruins looked beautiful against the backdrop of the sea and I took this opportunity to start writing this second section of our log which we will pass on to you once we can find an internet connection (lucky enough to find toilets, let alone wifi!) I have also asked others to write up something to post out to you, but as this was one of the first days that we got to spend chilling, that was what we did. we stopped at a hotel on top of a hill in tibiza, where we managed to get sleep after fajr and then had dinner, where George Galloway joined us and gave a little talk, taking charge of the ship so to speak, setting out ground rules such as no more than 350 km in a day and a stops on the road after every three hours, along with emphasis on working together as a whole group and looking after one another, as there were concerns after the amount of driving that has been done, and the lack of communications between the some of the group organisers and the rest of the group, along with certain factions of the convoy who do not like to take orders from others and want to do their own thing, George gave any one who wanted to do their own thing that they could leave the convoy and go their own way at their own speed, but promised that they wouldn’t get far as it was a result of his influence with certain sympathetic people to our cause that we were getting this help through these countries. the way he speaks leaves one to think that he is a Muslim and stressed on Islamic ideals about unity and fearing god, which was then further emphasised by sheik zahid (don’t know where he is from yet), who also talked about the need for unity amongst us a there were many out there who would like to see this mission fail and for us to be derided, also the fact that there are non Muslims on this group – a small minority who are very good in their akhlaq that I feel embarrassed by our behaviour (one of the convoy group
slapped a waiter in the face in a previous hotel, and people complained about food being bland etc when they are giving us their best hospitality for free…. it make you wonder why the state of the ummah is in such a plight when we are not bothered about our neighbour / fellow traveller on a journey, using the benchmark of what we are used to at home and expect it to be the same here at somebody else expense. the hotel we were put up in last night (night? sorry this morning and tonight) is very nice an has a excellent view, but somebody even complained to George about the hotel and said that Algeria is a rich country, is this all they could do to put us up!! George again reiterated that we have our sleeping bags and that we were expecting to rough it out for the journey not has hotels, but when there is an opportunity we will take it and be grateful. so I’m off to the town again to find a cyber cafe so that I can post this out, hoping that all the folks back home are good and grateful for the help given to us by the local community to enable us from Gloucester to take part in this once in a lifetime experience. I hope that by the next time we get to cyber cafe we will have uploads from other members of the group who will share their experience as well, and hope you get some photos with this message… salaams
after a nights rest at the hotel in tibiza we left as a whole convoy and stooped at the first petrol station that was along the motorway where it took two hours to fill up all the vehicles, we had to pay this time, but at 13p a litre of diesel and 22p a litre of unleaded, nobody was complaining, we then drove 300 miles ( so much for Georges cap at 350 km!) going through setif and stopping just outside the city of constantine ( I think its where the roman emperor made Christianity the official religion) and with salaat stops and changing drivers every couple few hours, we found it an easier drive, stopping for the night at a car factory by 9pm, parking our vehicles in their car park and then being escorted by coach to a local mosque where we stayed the night. The local Red Crescent came and handed out bags of food to every one and we also had our photos taken with some of the military, holding their big guns. there has been a lot of military and police presence in Algeria along the road, at junctions and in each town as well as those at the front and back of the convoy, not sure why this is the case, but they are all heavily armed and you also get the odd tank by the side of the road and sniper towers dotted along the motorway. Even though they were many in number and armed, they were the friendliest so far, waving at us as well and striking up conversation when we would stop. If for any reason a vehicle stops behind at one of the stops, you get your own police escort until you catch up with the main convoy again. Again the view as we drove through the country was amazing, panoramic views, flat plateaus and mountains with sno3w caps, roads cut through the side of cliffs, a tunnel carved out of a large cliff as well, the road right on the edge of many hills with a drop of several hundreds of feet, you wouldn’t want to go off the edge, the roads are starting to get worse, two lane motorways with no road markings and the last leg of today’s journey was difficult as it was raining as well and you just couldn’t see the road ahead of you except by the tail lights of the vehicle in front as all the Algerians seem to drive with their full beam on.
in the morning we woke at the mosque for fajr and it was like being in jamaat, every body in our sleeping bags and a talk after fajr by imam zahir from Aston, stressing on our intention for this journey, that it should be for the pleasure of Allah swt and nothing else, and the way we conduct ourselves with others, as the prophet Mohammed pbuh was of a kind nature and was not harsh in his words and actions, and that we should follow in his footsteps, not only in actions but in behaviour as well. A point was also made as to the different schools of thought within Islam and our convoy, and he stressed that even the companions of the prophet pbuh had difference of opinions yet they still lived together and got along with each other despite their differences, which is what we were starting to do as well.
just to mention the diversity of the group of people and vehicles on this convoy, we have people of all denominations, Muslims of all different schools of thought, some with their own schools of thought, some with no thought, Christians, atheists, socialists, hippies, politicians, journalists, documentary makers and even a couple of spies so it has been rumoured! getting all these to get along with obvious differences is a pretty hard task, but with the objective at the end to get the convoy to Gaza, it is surprising how every body is starting to pull toget6her, realising that everybody is in the same boat, and gets tired to the point of falling asleep at the wheel due to the pressure of the amount of driving we have been put through. We have vans of different sizes, a fire engine, ambulances, a boat, caravans, mobile mechanics and then some.
We hit the road towards the Tunisian border at tebessa instead of the route that was planned through annaba, thereby cutting a couple of hundred km, as well as the fact that we are now three days behind. we stopped for lunch about 30 km away from the border and then went on to the Tunisian border, where within an hour we were through with our vehicle and passports stamped yet again.
its now nearly maghrib time now and we are just waiting to regroup on this side of the Tunisian border, wondering where we are going to tonight, it starts to get easier as we have slept in the van in freeing conditions, with 2 – 3 hours sleep, so now anywhere we stop and get 5 -6 hours sleep, whether it will be in a tent, car park, warehouse all seem like a luxury. food wise, we get French bread sticks quite often and we have some tinned food as well, when a meal is not available, as we stop at places where there are no shops around (im yet to find an internet cafe to send the last two instalments over), heating water over a stove in the mornings to make our coffee before we hit the road, and also having the luxury of a travel kettle in the vehicles as well as a supply of earl grey…..
the Gloucester seven have gone from strength to strength now, overcoming our initial difficulties, as I have mentioned earlier, team work is of paramount importance and now that every one is pulling in the same direction it is all going very well, having a laugh and a joke when we are together and out of our vehicles, Ishmael is our "pretty boy" front man for the camera and getting friendly with Yvonne Ridley of press TV, ibrahim leads most of our prayers when we manage to get a jamaat together (we usually have to read in twos by our vehicles when we are on the road), (salaat time, prayer break by the side of the road and 5 star toilet facilities in the bushes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
bloody freezing out there, 1200 m above sea level at tebessa border, and now we are heading for a place called gafsa, hopefully cutting out the north eastern part of the Tunisian country, the downside being that there was reception planned at the northern border by both countries which we diverted away from, there were ministers, press and food all sorted out for us which we will have to do without….
like I said, its bitterly cold out here for the past few days, the only bit of heat we got was in morocco on the first and second day there, the sun shines and we are starting to get our tans but we are all wishing we brought more of our normal winter clothes along rather than expecting a heat wave!!!