27th Dec. 2007. Instead of committing to another night at Bou Jarif, we decide on a day trip to Plage Blanche and perhaps return for the night, or the next day, depending on whether I can occupy one of those deserted cottages at Plage Blanche we heard about. Turns out I can. The former manager of the dilapidated Hotel, if it ever was a hotel, sweeps out the layers of sand from one of the cottages.
He’s a loner, let-the-world-go-by kind of man. Ulla speaks French with him. I get the gist. The planned facilities for the hotel got stuck, were too unrealistic, never happened. The plot was apparently sold to another developer. Our hermit says he bides his time until the machinery moves in … probably never. His story has holes. Truth balances on a thin edge around here. Still, having apparently resisted threats and bribes, he holds his fragile station and is cheered to have visitors. The splendour of the dunes settles it. Our stroll along the beach is crowned by the brilliant orange sun slipping over the horizon. Not for the first time, I wonder if by photographing such moments I diminish deeper absorption. Yet here I am, sharing the image of a sunset with you, my readers, who have seen many fabulous sunsets in their lifetime, if only to re-spark such beauty in your memory. Even without water in my cottage, and no toilet use, the minimal décor appeals. I make myself an oasis with candles and a red shawl for colour. The steady sound of the Atlantic surf rolling in and out is softened by the dunes. The clear night ocean above me sparkles with galaxies. Bliss.
28th Dec. 2007, Ulla has taken the dogs for a run along the beach. I furtively look for a spot to dig a hole for what finally stirs in my intestines, since I never use the chemical toilet in the van. The spot I find looks upon miles of surf before the Atlantic horizon. The occasion allows for a most spectacularly relieving bowel movement, certainly with the best view ever. The argan oil I soaked yesterday’s excellent local bread in must have worked the magic.
Argan oil is harvested and processed via many small co-operatives, run by women. Goats treasure its fruit and climb high into the trees for it, a surreal sight. They remain natural harvester in some areas, since kernels containing the valuable oil remain unharmed in the animal’s droppings, which are then collected.
I see Ulla returning from miles away. I ask her to take the above photo in the dunes of me. Later we walk along an estuary teeming with birds. A young man on a moped sells fresh fish to Ulla, filleted on sight. I set up a folding chair along the sacred line that marks the boundary between reality and dream, a place of sweet solitude.
The world intrudes. An elderly English woman parks her caravan near Ulla’s van. She, too, has two dogs. Based on that association she relates a horror story to us, of how her husband was killed (murdered) near the area some years ago by a ten year old Moroccan boy. Since then the woman makes a yearly pilgrimage. The boy, she says, drove his bicycle down a hill at full speed and rammed into her husband while he locked his car, on purpose. Their planned coffee break never happened. I wonder about the truth of the matter. Ongoing legal proceedings are swallowing up the woman’s savings. Consumed by this ghastly event, fate teases with endless plots crowding her imagination, a horrific trauma that seemed to have no absolution, apart from finding listeners. We listen.
29th Dec 2007. Ulla and I share a grief from way back for the untimely loss of a dear Sufi friend. Though every grief has its own constellation and depth, improvised travelling, demanding total presence, tends to soothe sorrows. As for me, hardly did a grunt or a sigh escape me on this journey. Daily a new horizon open, like the breath-taking rock formations found along hidden beaches. Each obstacle requires a surrender to circumstances. Western visitors fare best when adopting the shoulder shrug which is second nature to Moroccans, signifying their readiness of trusting in God’s will, ‘Inshallah.’ While I enjoy the sense of being lost between dream and reality, I drive Ulla crazy with the tunes I hum unawares. The melodies arrive from nowhere; old songs from the 70s, or themes from symphonies and operas. Brought to my attention, I try to place the tunes and can’t rest until I do. This peculiar habit of mine taps into an unconscious matrix where emotional memories find fresh connections, a kind of dark and invisible womb in which experiences are recorded. I feel embarrassed when Ulla admits irritation, though I thank her for bringing this habit to my attention. I learned to value this unconscious process as a mnemonic tool in the process of writing.
We drive an hour back to Goulimine and enjoy lunch in a restaurant with a familiar friendly waiter. He accepts and arranges for the fish which Ulla bought from a young man in the dunes to be prepared. I later get two bottles of wine for the next four days from the known secret corner in the souk.
Driving toward Tan Tan Plage, we divert to Ksar Tafnidilt, yet another nerve wrecking track leading to a 5star desert palace that includes a camping area. Like Bou Jarif, the abode was built to accommodate French tourists. A few four wheel drivers blast their horns and impatiently overtake us. The passion of these people is racing their sturdy vehicles at high speed along the sandy coastline at low tide. It’s a noisy hazard, and worth keeping in mind when paddling unawares in the surf.
I inspect a lovely tower room at Ksar Tafnidilt, but my budget is dwindling. So after some dreaming of luxury, it’s back to the main road. The four wheel drivers have churned some nasty holes in the sand. At one point we collect rocks to make a passage. Ulla’s bondage to the van conjures up her fears that we’ll get stuck. The scary possibility sparks my usually drowsy determination into action, physically and mentally. All went well in the end. We continue towards Tan Tan Plage.
A fourth part of this journey will be coming next: Tan Tan Plage, New Year, TV, dreaming in the philosophy zone, worlds within, symbols, returning via Goulimine, Bou Jerif, Sidi Ifni and Tiznit, before heading up the coast towards Agadir and Essaouria, a lovely small town. I think as an old hippy I could live there 🙂
These are spontaneous posts, so please ignore possible grammar slips.