The young soldier with the rifle on his shoulder asked for my passport. “Trois mois.” he screamed. “Trois mois!”
But I’m getting ahead of myself …..
While I was staying in the small fishing village of Taghazout I noticed the male Berber population (I can’t recall seeing any Berber women) would gather around a battery-powered radio in the evening (there was no electricity in the village when I was there) and listen to an Arab commentator. Occasionally they would all cheer. Naturally, I was curious so I asked someone to tell me the meaning of this regular ritual. They explained to me in halting English that the Moroccan army was engaged in a struggle with a group known as the Polisario which had something to do with an area called the Spanish Sahara. Every time the Moroccan army scored a victory in the ongoing dispute the men would cheer.
Being blissfully apolitical I joined a group of young Europeans (and one French-Canadian) on an excursion to an ancient village called A Baynou which was only a few miles from the site of the latest fighting.
Getting there was rather alarming. I realized how remote it was when the local bus stopped on the highway and the group piled into a taxi waiting by the roadside to take us the rest of the way. The taxi headed straight across the desert and by the time we reached the village all of us were coated with a fine layer of sand.
The only place serving meals (I won’t dignify it by calling it a restaurant) informed us that everything had been consumed except for a piece of camel hump.
I told the rest of my fellow travelers that I would rather starve but after a few hours (and copious amounts of hashish) I decided that I didn’t want to starve, after all. (My only memory of my late night meal is that it was rather stringy.)
To Be Continued ….