From Taghazoute to Dhakla

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Africa » Western Sahara
July 15th 2008
Published: January 7th 2009
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We leave the beach at Taghazoute early in the morning, having sardines and baguette for breakfast. We thumb into Agadir, just miss the morning bus to Laayoune, and have to wait 9 hours for the next. Standard. Get some pizza, check the internet, people watch a bit in the bus station, and the 9 hours are over.

The bus travels through the night to Laayoune. Occasionally I woke up to see us driving through arid valleys with strange tunnel-agriculture schemes dotted around. It became more deserty, and by dawn sand took up most of the landscape.

We spent a day in Laayoune washing clothes, ambling about and hanging around the local pool hall. It’s a very fast growing town - tax incentives are offered to Moroccans who live here, and there are well paid jobs. I guess the Moroccan royalty hope that when a referendum happens to decide whether or not Western Sahara remains governed by Morocco, there will be enough loyal Moroccans living in the desert regions to give a safe Yes.

The next morning Supratours’ luxurious aircon bus takes us to Dhakla through the desert. We’re into the real Sahara now - the sand is endless and hilly, ending at the sea on a high escarpment. The beaches look beautiful down below the cliffs. The road runs along the tops of these cliffs most of the day, broken by strange new towns springing up in the desert for no particular reason - identikit houses, mosques, and ubiquitous electricity lines layed out in neat grids, accompanied by people walking around, bent into the wind, looking lost.

After Boujdour a conveyor belt trundles straight out of the desert to a waiting ferry moored off the beach. I’m guessing these are the phosphates which are so lucrative for the Moroccan government they want to keep the place.

Dhakla is randomly perched on sand, built of sand, and full of sand. It’s placed out on a peninsula, and was ridiculously windy when we were there. I can see how it could be nice though, if it was calm. After a night’s rest we get a taxi to the Mauritanian border with two students going home for summer holidays. Sand threatens to cover the road often on this stretch, and we met two overturned lorries who had skidded onto sand piles left by the wind.


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