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Published: December 22nd 2012
Well it all sounds like a great adventure but honestly how many nights of desert camping do you think you can do? Hint... My threshold is one... Yes exactly one!!!
Don't get me wrong, the stark beauty of the Western Sahara is something to behold... Heards of velvet camels, golden sand dunes interspersed with scrub bush and cactus roll unimpeded toward the horizon, an impossibly blue sea crashes against a wild and barren coast, beautiful yes, BUT....camping no! The incessant wind whirls sand as fine as powder into your hair, nose, eyes, ears and worse!...Grit everywhere!
I flee the campsite and the fellow unwashed despite the starry nights and opt for a tiny hotel with running water in the bonafide border town of Laayoune. A brainwave!
Little did I know the treasures that awaited me there
Ah Laayoune and the beautiful Sahraoui (people of the Sahara) women like butterflies of every vibrant hue wrapped in their billowing Malhafa (robes) their warmth and gaiety evident even behind face masks and eyes hidden by giant sunglasses.... Desert stylie! And might i add sand proof!
Their customs and generosity....the spraying of perfume on me the guest in their home
velvet camel heard
before sharing a meal of bread, dates, ground almond nuts mixed with argon oil and glasses of warm milk. A meal fit for a queen served to me from the beautiful intricately hennaed hands of a well married lady.
All this because I prattled in desperation and English to a simpatico travel agent who smiled, introduced me to her mother, took me shopping for my own beautiful malhafa (which I promptly donned) before inviting me to her sisters home where I was feasted and make to hold at length her beautiful baby girl. Allah Akbar!
Sorry to say no photos yet as I can't download from my camera ( technical difficulties) but soon come
So for now I have escaped the group and am solo (mecca!) in Grand Canary Island...Las Palmas (culture shock! Its so european but I suppose it is Spain after all) with hot water shower, manicure and soon a ticket to Dakar where yet more adventure awaits.
My imagination whirls!
I diligently take my anti malaria pills and wait for the next flight to Dakar in 3 days. While I wait I dream, I dream of sub Sahara Africa.... Of the smiling
gorgeous Sahraoui girls in their malhafas
faces of my friend Ousmanes family who will be there to greet me....
Of sombre weighty Isle de Gore' the beginning and the end of so much, for so many...
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