Sunday 23rd May, Chefchaouen, Morocco.

Chefchoauen has been nice, but I’m ready to move on, if only so I don’t have to spell Chefchaouen again! I’m going to try to make it to Asilah tomorrow. There’s no direct bus apparently, but if I catch either the bus to Tetouann to the north, or the southbound Ouezzanne bus, it should be possible to connect from there. I said “should”.

The vast majority of my time here has been spent working on my book, and at the internet café, where- like the internet café in Tangiers- there is no problem connecting my own laptop to their network. In between work, I’ve spent my days sipping mint tea, with my draft spread out on the table in front of me, in Nabil’s open air café, on the main square, the PLaza Uta el Hamman. It’s relaxing to just sit there and watch the world go by, donkeys loaded up with gas canisters or crates of soft drink, worshippers making their way to the Mosque across the square, tourists trying to shake loose the persistent touts. Watching Nabil at work is entertainment in itself. The biggest part of his job is to coax the wary or indecisive travellers into his restaurant. If he can get them to stop and talk to him, he can get them to sit down. If they sit down, it’s dirhams in his pocket, and luckily he’s an expert at it. When all the cafes around are next to empty, you can be sure that Nabil has at least a few tables filled.

Nabil, keeping the customers satisfied. Not everyone in Chefchaouen is happy.

A local Moroccan, Nabil speaks Arabic, French, Spanish, English and a smattering of Japanese, and he has the outgoing personality to go with his job. Last night in the middle of dinner service, much to the delight of the crowd, he burst into raucous song, accompanying the Arabic music that crackled from his the restaurant’s ghetto blaster. He works here every day, from breakfast till the place shuts at midnight, and he’s always smiling and laughing- except when a local rogue upsets one of his good customers. Then he gets very serious indeed.

The view from the rooftop terrace at my hotel. Relaxing in my room.

Last night, when my brain was hurting from editing my book I did a bit of recreational reading. The book I’m on is called “Dear John” and I’ve found it difficult to put down. I’ll read you what it says on the back cover:

"For four years, London based Aussie Richard Berry wrote a letter each week to the Australian prime minister. He posted them to Both John Howard and to TNT Magazine, which decided to publish them every Monday. Richard was a long way from home and believed that just because a bloke was a prime minister, it didn’t mean he couldn’t be your mate. Collated here are 44 of his best letters, including the replies he’s received from Canberra."

Unfortunately there are only forty because four pages are duplicated, which is a shame. I’d love to get a hold of those four missing letters, they could become like the Beatles lost songs. Nevertheless, “Dear John” is a riot of a book- hilarious firstly that anyone would even conceive of such an idea, and funny as hell in its own right. I’ve enjoyed it so much that it’d be a shame to send it home to just sit on a shelf till I get back, so I’ve decided to share it round. It was a limited print run, and you can’t buy it in any shop, not even on those early morning infomercials. If you’re interested to read “Dear John” just let me know and I’ll post it to you. Only condition is that you agree to keep it for less than one week, and then post it onto the next person who wants it. It’s only a small book, and you’d read it cover to cover in a few hours. Richard Berry’s humour is typically Australian, irreverent, very dry, very ironic. Non Aussies may struggle with his style and some of his references, but it might give you something of an insight into Australia. Anyway, as I said, just email me to join The Savage Files lending library. I’d do the same with Peter Moore’s latest book “Vroom With A View” which I’ve just finished, but I’m sure Peter and I would both prefer you bought your own copy of that one, especially FROM AMAZON.CO.UK THROUGH THE LINKS ON THIS WEBSITE! GET IT?

0553814516. A travel guide with a difference, this title introduces a world where you are more likely to find a cockroach on your pillow than a complimentary mint, where you take your life in your own hands every time you get on a bus, where everything goes wrong, and you still end up loving every minute of it. Instead of practical hints, it gives you impractical ones (how to avoid jet lag - avoid jets) and rather than tell you the best places to stay, it tells you the worst. 0553812386. From London to Australia without using an aeroplane. The book is peppered with cartoon-like characters that Moore meets on his journey; the Czechs with matching haircuts, the spitting Chinese, the drunken Australians. Juxtaposed with his acidic observations Moore writes movingly of his experiences in war-torn Bosnia and the visit to his grandfather's grave in Singapore. 0553813358. Around Central America with the girl next door (GND) Together, and sometimes apart, the two of them bus, boat and taxi around the principal sites of central America and the Caribbean, enjoying and enduring a six-month long low-budget mini-Odyssey that variously involves hurricanes, civil wars, and insurgencies, as well as the more predictable Mayan cities, Aztec ruins, drunk American students, and importuning mariachi bands. 0553814524. A week after breaking up with the girl next door - his girlfriend and travelling companion through Central America - Peter Moore heads off to Africa to lose himself for a while. In the grand tradition of 19th-century scoundrels, explorers and romantics, Africa strikes him as the ideal place to find solitude and anonymity in the face of a personal crisis. What follows is Peter's journey from one end of the Dark Continent to the other. Travelling the fabled Cape Town to Cairo route by any means of transport he can blag (or if he must, pay) his way onto, it's an epic trek that sees our intrepid Antipodean experience everything from the southernmost city in Africa to the Pyramids, vast game parks and thundering falls, cosmopolitan cities and tiny villages, as he journeys through the very heart of Africa. 0593052781. He was an Australian author approaching 40. She was a fading Italian beauty from the sixties. They spent one unforgettable summer together, a magical road trip from Milan to Rome. Only one thing stood in the way of perfect love. Sophia was a motor scooter.


Well you’ve read this far, so you’ve no doubt noticed the advertisements in the side column. Call me a sellout, if you like, but I gotta do what I gotta do to keep this boat afloat. Since I stopped working, the flow of money is only going one way- the wrong way! My account is back in the red, which is not really a surprise, but it is a concern. With challenges coming in very slowly, I needed to find some way to offset the cost of running this ever growing website. If you have been thinking of a challenge for me, now would be as good a time as any to issue it. The messageboard is the place for that. Otherwise, please spare a few minutes to click on the ads that you see through the website. I get paid a small amount per click through, and every little bit helps.

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