...I'm having more fun that you'd think considering I'm in a desert, miles from home and hanging out with lots of people I don't understand.
Last weekend Jo and I went to Dakhla. Wow. It's beautiful. Flat sand stretching for miles, perfect dunes to run over, warm sea, friends with a boat, an eat-all-you-can fish buffet, dozens of people kite-surfing. Dakhla is a peninsular about 6 hours south of Laayoune, where I'm staying and it does that confusing thing of having ridiculously arid places that drop straight into the sea. Forgive the photos and please believe me when I say I'm not ACtually just having a holiday!!
We were far enough away from anyone local to wear short sleeves without anyone being scandalised by seeing my upper arms and I even got into the sea for a few minutes at one point. In more public or popular places the women wear pyjamas or jogging bottoms and long-sleeved t-shirts to go into the sea.
On Sunday afternoon we went off-roading to 'Dunas Blancas' and listened to our friends stories of cars that had sunk in the sand, never to be recovered because of the tunnels the fiddler crabs make that fill with water when the tide comes in.
The sand was surprisingly cool under foot
considering the heat of the day. A strong wind helps prevent you from over-heating.
There were a group of pink flamingoes in the water, oystercatchers, sanderling and some other birds that I thought may have been curlew but couldn't identify without binoculars.
I threw caution to the wind and flung myself in the sea which was warm.
One evening we stopped by at a 'hanout' which is what I called a box shop when I first came arrived. They come in different sizes but they are basically a small room with a counter with products behind and you have to ask for what you want and you are served everything by the shopkeeper. This hanout that we visited was about the size of a shed, the counter was gone because it was evening and a group of women were sat on rugs inside drinking tea in the traditional southern style. We joined them and left when there were so many people sitting cross-legged in there that a world record was about to be set.
At the dunes I was challenged to take the leap of faith, a rite of passage made up by one of our friends that involves running up to the peak of a dune (as pictured) and jumping as far as you can, blind, over the other side. I made a modest effort while pulling off a convincing impression of the much-loved, knee-length trouser wearing sleuth, Tintin!
It was a great week-end and a perfect break from 'normal' life, though I use that term advisedly!
I think this weekend we are actually going to be staying in Laayoune. We are invited to a wedding of a brother of a friend of an acquaintance of a person of a .... I'm not sure who! I will be able to provide you with more pictures of me looking silly as a result!