Destination : Dakhla, Morocco
Dakhla, the provincial capital of the Moroccan Sahara, lies ultimately in a four mil long peninsula with the Atlantic roaring waves against the west and a big quiet, beautiful lagoon to the east. The airport is located right in town and I realize how insulated area is on when I see today only two arrivals and departures in the airport screens. We take a flight via Casablanca, while the second flight leaves to Gran Canaria, so a visit can be combined with a trip to the Canary Islands if you like.
Hotel cars Star and Waiting in our group and we leave the brightly lit city in minutes. It is almost midnight and on When Dakhlas light disappears behind us, we are all fascinated and Looking up into burrow most incredible Stjärnhimmel as provide contours until the huge desert landscape we find ourselves in. It takes half an hour GETTING to the only road as connecting Dakhla with the world and we drive the last kilometers through the most difficult passable sandy desert during the journey we pass available Two police checks.
The hotel is a small oasis consisting of tasteful sand-colored bungalows, which from beach heaves up along the side of a mountain with beautiful lights in trees and shrubs. It is warm, Stjärnklart and Very exotic. The next morning I go out on the terrace and greeted by a gorgeous view of the lagoon and the vast desert as surrounding it. The sun is shining and the wind blowing through your hair. The sea, like the sky, clear blue and everything else is sand, sand, sand.
The innermost part of the lagoon is home to a dozen hotels, as all lever in the Nonprofit geographical conditions as overpriced here. They have created a real paradise for enthusiastic kite surfers, pilgrims from around the world. Hit the shallow lagoon, constant wind and the Fresh Water overpriced in the lagoon bottom. All hotels REQUIREMENTS Have to wear an eco-label and stacks the need for a diesel generator to pump fresh water from 400 meters depth and to produce electricity, it attempts to operate the hotels minimal impact on nature.
We Will I end of the high season, there are many men Gaster and everything has been sold out from May to October. The majority of visitors come to kitesurf and it is noticeable that morning the wind never came as most hotel guests choose to stay in the hotel. No Located in the inviting lounge chairs, but instead sits under the canopy with iPads, phones or books, bored and longing. It promised better kite-weather until the afternoon.
We have five days ahead of us with the opportunity to explore the area and take pictures of Le Prestige magazine, so we put up with a sailing trip with Neil, an Englishman who has lived in Morocco for six years with his wife and their children. He runs a small business with its large catamaran base and has four employees, two Moroccans and two sahrawier. Neil asks what we want to do and we say that we want to see dolphins! The waters are full of them, and luck is on our side there is also the orcas in the vicinity. We get a nice day at sea with plenty of sun and wind.
On the way back, we have to check the wind and take into account the low tide. I stand at the helm and put on the Neils command. "Do not look at the depth gauge," he warns, "it will be very low soon but I know what I'm doing." I confidently follow his command and see with delight depth gauge occurrence 0,0m before we have a couple of meters below the keel on the big boat. It tends to go well, says Neil, and it is just sand. Should we encounter because the tide soon. We are approaching the innermost part of the lagoon and soon abuzz with kite surfers around the boat. They seem to think it's fun to go near us and we are fascinated by their speed and incredible acrobatics.
In the evening, the mood is completely different than it was earlier that morning. Many are in wetsuits, everyone is excited and talking on the mouth at each other about who could do out on the water. One guy says to us that kitesurfing beats everything, even six, so no one leaves us in doubt that these people have only one thing in mind and body.
Next morning show manager Jose us around the hotel. He was born and raised in Tarifa in Spain, where kite surfing originated. He surfed all his life and has won many medals in the sport before he started working in the hotel industry. Now he lives with his wife and children at the hotel and make sure that everything works perfectly for his clients, whose needs he knows to perfection. The hotel has 100 employees, and he stresses that he looks to the locals, Sahrawi people, and not only Moroccans from other cities, may work in his company.
At noon we get many quizzical looks. We have dressed us up when we will meet with the provincial governor and I look forward to the opportunity to discuss the area's status, which critics dubbed Africa's last colony. As with most other conflicts, the issue is so complex that it is impossible to find a solution without injustice and losers. Although I have spent some time on the research I have not foundsomething that I would call impartially. Of course, the meeting with the governor not to be impartial, but it will at least be interesting.
His residence is in Dakhlas center, which gives the interior a feeling that time has stood still, but from the outside it looks more impressive. We will sit and wait in a room before we appear in to the chief manager working for the governor. We start chatting about tourism when the governor is ready to receive us and we were shown into a large fine corner office overlooking the lagoon.
He is perceived as a person, it goes to reason, then discussions on the political situation is something of a part can be seen as a charged topic, internationally. Meanwhile, the governor wants to talk about so many other things, such as fishing, tourism and particularly ecotourism. Ecotourism is something he will return to, and he emphasizes the importance of the work that has been responsible for ensuring the commitments license (The Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection) requires to meet the requirements. He talks about the future and investments, all on a little too fast French, so I was struggling to keep up. I'm thinking about how I can get in on the political issue, but it dissolves through a linguistic misunderstanding. The governor talks about security and legislation on foreign investment and on, as I understood repatriation. But I miss this and ask about repatriation. What I mean is if there is a possibility that the approximately 150,000 Sahrawier living in refugee camps in Algeria (near the border with Morocco), can go home. The governor looks tired of me, but as an experienced politician, he leans back, raises his arms and say that they are always welcome. They are the Moroccans. They may even financial support if they return.
In comparison with other historical areas of conflict, we have a long discussion about how the Cold War by countries such as Spain, France, USA, Russia and Cuba had their conflicts and problems. We also talk about possible naval bases on the Atlantic Ocean and the power game that is about the position, the importance of resources such as oil and phosphate as well as how Algeria and Morocco have been antagonists for ensuring the right to these assets. I get myself tired and dejected and realize that the 40-year-old refugee camps will surely remain even in 40 years, when the residents do not want to move back to Morocco and thus give up the dream of independence and not have to settle elsewhere in Algeria. The conflict can not be compared with the Israel / Palestine where Israel refuses to take back the Palestinians. Strangely enough, it is easier to compare with our own history and it called Norrland colonization. In the mid-1800s was populated land of the Sami of Swedes as a natural part of what we call progress and so it is in the Moroccan Sahara, where it now lives several hundred thousand Moroccans. Enough about this. Regardless of who controls are tourism always a welcome source of income, and this area is definitely worth a visit even if you do not kite surf.
We eat a late lunch at the oyster farm and enjoying the minute fresh oysters, grilled seafood at a table only five meters from the sea and it tastes amazing! The restaurant is popular and sometimes a group of kite surfers occupant from the other side of the lagoon for a break and some good food.
The next morning I wake up early and decided me to take a walk along the lagoon. It is low tide and I go in the sun, alone in the vast countryside. The lagoon is surrounded by large flat beaches and I glimpsed the control tower at the airport three mil off the ocean. I pass hundreds of flamingos funny saunter out in the water. They stop the search for food and looking suspiciously up and freeze in their movements when they see me. Behind them I see shoals of hundreds of small fish jumping in the water. Their small bodies reflect the sun and I see how they try to swim in the air and get away from the predatory fish below the surface. I have gone a long time, completely alone and turns when I see that the tide is approaching.
After breakfast we will have the shooting, "photoshoot", which you so beautifully says, on a fine sand dune on the east side of the lagoon. We drive a long time in the desert before we arrive at a beach that stretches as far as the eye can reach, is more than a kilometer wide. We drive up to a 30 meter high sand dune located towards the lagoon. We are already seeing some twenty kite surfers who quickly slips past below us. Their screens reaches almost up to our height. We sit down, look out over the sea and beaches, none of us said anything. There is a quiet out here that is hard to put into words.
In the evening, we served food on the beach in front of the hotel and a group of Saharawi musicians playing beautifully for us. Two plays drums and playing electric guitar. The music is very rhythmic and catchy. Two elderly men chant and follow the rhythm of the song, while three women clapping in time and stands sometimes up to dance. I've heard a lot of ethnic music on my travels, but never anything so rhythmic, fast and insistent as this. It is simply impossible to stand still, which pleases the musicians. We have no common language, but with laughter, dance, clap and curiosity from both sides, we are creating a community and still a magical night. Only at midnight, after four hours of energetic, they stop and we thank and say goodbye.
We have been here for a few days and soon we have to travel north again, to another temperature and a different tempo. I looked up at the sky many times during the trip and have not seen a single aircraft, no flashing lights in the night, no white lines against the blue sky. It's a small detail, but I notice that it means something to me.There is a grandeur and a sense of calm that is hard to find elsewhere, and I will miss it!
@ Photoshoot directed by Yasmine Blidi, Photographed by Peter Edquvist