This is an authorized translation in English of a post in French by @terresco: D'Abidjan à Carcassonne : Le sud Marocain
As my primary language is not English, there are probably some mistakes in my translation.
Remember that the person who speaks here is NOT me, Vincent Celier (@vcelier), but @terresco, a French guy.
How long ? The soldier who had escorted us to this huge military tent raised in the middle of the desert could not answer us. Passports and cameras confiscated, we were at the mercy of the Moroccan army. We had crossed a forbidden border, it was now necessary to assume and regularize our situation.
Waiting under the tent
The day was very hot. Outside, in the rage of the sun, we could not resist long. The nearly white landscape, where everything was identical, did not appeal to the unintentional visitor. A lot of garbage testified to the expectation of the unfortunate travelers and the total indifference of the authorities in this matter. The nights were more pleasant, no light source came to hinder the vision of a black sky dotted with stars, eternal traveling companions in the desert.
In the tent the conditions of life were uncomfortable, one piled up there to protect oneself from the sun in a heat that the promiscuity made more stifling still. On the floor, in the dust, on each other, we respect each other without getting to know each other, each preoccupied by his precarious situation. Waiting is the hardest part, tapping into the reservoir of patience, letting the spirit build ever more catastrophic scenarios, the wait undermines the morale of the most seasoned traveler.
The last escort
Dakhla, the paradise of the tired traveler
The arrival at Dakhla, near the sea, was a wonder after so much sand and loneliness. If today Dakhla has become a great kitesurfing center very popular with water sports lovers, it was not the case at the time. Dakhla was a tiny fishing village, with a tranquility almost disturbing. This is where we took advantage of our newfound freedom, after simple and fast formalities. The passports given to the police by the army were returned with a big smile and one or two extra stamps. Welcome to Morocco. Finally.
Where we find a city
Since Dakar we had not seen any city, it is not that we were missing this, but little by little various needs appear and to be able to go shopping becomes pleasant. It is in Laayoune that we find civilization. A real city with its activity. I have a strange feeling, I had traveled often to Morocco when I lived in Europe and the country seemed poor to me. Coming from Black Africa this time the sensation is reversed, I find it rich and developed. Everything is so relative.
Laayoune is a relatively rich city, it took advantage of the will of the Moroccan government to develop the southern regions, the Sahara. Officials paid largely, reduced taxes, subsidized products. Morocco has been administering Western Sahara since the famous green march in 1975, but the territory remains the subject of Saharawi claims. It must be said that phosphate arrives on the longest conveyor belt in the world to be processed and exported from the port.
I would not go so far as to say that the city center was beautiful but it was nice to walk there for no other purpose than looking for a café to hang out or a small grocery store. Contacts are easy, you just need to know how to end the discussions as soon as they become political. Enough administrative complications for this trip. We still find people who speak Spanish, a memory of a distant time when their presence here was strong.
Tanks filled to the brim with zero-rated fuel, we leave Laayoune. Only 500km separate us from Agadir and Morocco tourism, another world, another trip. This is where we leave our fellow travelers who return directly to France while we go for a mountain hike with friends Berbers in the north of the High Atlas. The valley of happy people, a promising name.
01: From Abidjan to Carcassonne, the first crossing, by @terresco
02: From Abidjan to Carcassonne: Guinea
03: From Abidjan to Carcassonne: A break in Dakar, by @terresco
04: From Abidjan to Carcassonne: North Senegal, by @terresco
05: From Abidjan to Carcassonne: Mauritania, by @terresco
06: From Abidjan to Carcassonne: The forbidden border, by @terresco
Encounters with Africa series:
01: Encounters with Africa: Ivory Coast, by @terresco
02: Encounters with Africa: Abidjan, a daily pleasure, by @terresco
03: Encounters with Africa: The Tuaregs of Agadez, by @terresco
04: Encounters with Africa: The Tuaregs of Agadez, part 2, by @terresco
05: Encounters with Africa: On the way to the Dogon country, by @terresco
06: Encounters with Africa: Among the Dogon of Bandiagara, by @terresco
07: Encounters with Africa: The Gold Coast, by @terresco
08: Encounters with Africa: Where was born a desire to go elsewhere, by @terresco
09: Encounters with Africa: The time of failures, by @terresco
10: Encounters with Africa: The Promised Land, by @terresco
11: Encounters with Africa: The Land of the Upright Man, by @terresco
12: Encounters with Africa: From Bobo to Ouagadougou, by @terresco
13: Encounters with Africa: In the Voodoo country,
From Cape Town to Mombasa series:
01: Africa, the long crossing
02: From Cape Town to Mombasa: South Africa
03: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Namibia
04: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Botswana
05: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Zimbabwe
06: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Zimbabwe, part 2, by @terresco
07: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Zimbabwe, part 3, by @terresco
08: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Zambia, by @terresco
09: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Malawi, by @terresco
10: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Tanzania #1, by @terresco
11: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Tanzania #2, by @terresco
12: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Tanzania #3, by @terresco
13: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Tanzania #4, by @terresco
14: From Cape Town to Mombasa: Kenya, by @terresco