2 July 2011

A Tale of Two Cities

I slept fitfully and spent my waking time falling in and out of love with Africa; in the last three days I had not been in a toilet that was more than a hole and without any sign of toilet paper and the romance of living like a local was wearing thin in that respect BUT the clouds of women in highly pattered floating mulafeh was like watching flocks of exotic birds preening themselves as they rearrange the material over their heads BUT there is a constant thought near the front of your mind that whatever is causing that fearful smell in the market might splatter up your feet BUT the night sky is stunning and you see so many more stars clearly etc...

Around 5, I was sleepily aware that the bus had stopped but not for a break. We had broken down and there was quite a delay. There had been a noticeable increase in light by the time I had properly woken up and we all had to get out, collect our luggage and fight for a place on one of the two other buses that had stopped to accommodate us. One benefit was that the seats seemed much more comfortable and we had more space to move about. We stopped a little while later at a regular spot, now fully light but cool with a low hanging mist. Assmae and I had coffee (small glass o fhot milk and a sachet of nescafe) and that delicious, oily, rectangular bread that looks like a pancake and tastes like a paratha. I'd been looking forward to that!

We travelled on, the countryside looking distinctly more like a desert but with lots of low scrub and mostly flat. We arrived at Laayoune and seeing things I recognised was surprisingly exciting. Assmae transferred to another bus to Boujdoour and Johanne arrived shortly after. It was great to see her and she launched straight into her usual chatter, telling me about all her visitors; I and her son J are leaving and B is staying and six men are coming from the UK next week. It's election day...

We got to her flat, I was introduced to her three guests and then we all went out to the dunes. This is one of my favourite things to do here. Where the sand had been blown hard it is easy to walk but where it is soft, the heat scalds your feet. I took lots of pictures and asked about scorpions! We then drove on to a section of the beach I hadn't been to before and enjoyed the spray and cool winds. The plan was to have a short rest when we got back then I passed out for six hours on the banquette and was woken to say goodbye to I and J. While Johanne was taking them to the bus stop, I showered - with running water! I shared potato sald adn tuna and talked for a couple of hours with Johanne about all the possible plans for the future.

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