Friday, 25 September 2009

He Says – FREE Western Sahara!

25 September 09

Tan-tan was a long ride but not too bad. The drugs had worked, I was not in any danger. On the route to Laayoune, it was the Police and National Guard that are the flys. We were stopped at checkpoints that seemed to be every 2k. At one point there was a National security check point and 50m (no exaggeration) further down the road a police one, they asked the same questions and wanted the same paper work. We were lucky that we had several copies of our passports. As such we never handed over the real thing and they never were able to ask for anything to give it back. I lost count how many times we were actually stopped during the 300km trip each check point taking about 5 or so minutes, it was more trying then the ride.

Once in Laayoune, it felt like I just entered Bagdad, there are solders, cops and UN patrols everywhere. The place has really odd feeling at first, but then you realise that it is a joke. The people of Western Sahara are nicer then Moroccans, and they do not expect to be paid for everything. They also hate being called Moroccans. One tout in approached us in two days, he say what he did, we said no thanks so he said cool. He than chatted with us for a little while never mentioning guiding again, then he went on his way. We did get some begging from children. But all in all it is a much nicer place.

We decided, on a whim, to try and get some little thank you cars (Card du Visitants) made up. Paul and Renata suggested it and we felt like it may be good idea.
So I quickly banged one together on the computer and we went in search of a printer. We popped in to a photolab and he told us where to go and did not even as for money!! We went to the place he sent us and found out that yes they could do it but not in the formate I made up. So we headed back to the hotel to get what we needed. On route, we stopped in a fish restaurant and had lunch. It was in the lonely planet but for once I think that improved the place it was amazing. It was the best meal that I have had (out side home cooked at Biker’shome) since leaving the EU. This was also the first meal that did not jump directly on the Marrakech express in 3-4 days (if you understand).

We relaxed a bit at the hotel and at about 3, although I was exhausted, we headed back to the shop. We got there about 1525h, and it was closed but there was a line of people in front so we waited. 5 min later it was open and the photographer was really excited to see us. With lots of laughing and miscommunications we got our cards ready, it was fun. In the end they had a lot of fun too and wanted a couple of cards to keep for themselves as well as a couple of actual photos of us. They printed 4 extra cards 2 for them and a bonus two for us. It was exhausting for me, but then my stamina has suffered from 4 days of eating but not digesting anything. Tam was so chuffed it was great. We did some chores and had small dinner. Tomorrow was the 530km ride to Dakhla.