Thursday, January 1, 2009
Fishing boats Nouakchott
Majoral gardens Marrakech a beautiful place designed by Ralph Lauren, apparently
More of the tranquil and brightly coloured gardens a haven from the noise of Marrakech. More photos to come, promise!
I really am leaving Marrakech!
So the software saga continues. Id waited about two weeks in and around Marrakech for software to enable me to upload footage of my trip. I had to wait for the post office to open as it was closed for the Muslim festival of Eid and then there were further delays better known to the Moroccan postal system. Basically I was waiting for a CD from my mum, which I had stupidly left behind. When it finally arrived it was the wrong CD. I nearly cried.
Well this means there will probably be a second episode to filmyonder when I return and fill in the gaps with all the interesting footage I’ve taken.
I went through a mix of emotions when after so much hassle I discovered I had the wrong disk for my camcorder in my hands. I felt anger then frustration followed by deep despair and then giddy elation, like someone who has just received devastating news and is going through shock. This was an over-reaction but this is how I felt. Events are feeling more dramatic to me in far away Marrakech. The elation came when I realised that come what may I was free to leave Marrakech and head of to the obscure disputed territory of Western Sahara and one through the desert to the equally obscure country of Mauritania. Like a schoolboy on a trip I was giddy with excitement.
From Marrakech I got on a horrendously long bus ride (16 hours!) to Lauyoune the administrative capital of Western Sahara.
Western Sahara used to be a Spanish enclave. When the Spanish left they left Morocco and Mauritania to fight over the territory with little regard for the local Sahawri people. In the end Morocco marched I think 30,000 men ( I'm not sure the exact details right now, this is a very rudimentary history so don't quote me ) into the territory. Thus claimed Morocco has pumped money and people into the region to help Moroccanise and consolidate there claim. Much in the same way that China is Chineseifing Tibet to their own ends.
This little known conflict has resulted with Sahawri raids on the all important iron ore train in Mauritania so as to try and deflect Mauritanian interest and a 15-year war come stalemate with Morocco. There is a vast wall in the sand carving up the territory upon which the Sahwari polisario hopelessly outnumbered in the face of to the much better equipped and financed Moroccan army. There hasn't been a shot in years so don't worry I haven’t been through a dangerous war zone.
There are currently 100,000 or so Sahawri refugees in camps across the border in Algeria. These camps have been here for thirty years or more. There are people now who have been born in exile and have never even seen their homeland. There seems little hope for these exiled people and their occupied country. America and Brittan are supporting Morocco so as to stabilise the region against the so-called dangers faced in the "war against terror".
In this tense climate I travelled through numerous police checkpoints and past military bases. I was pretty nervous in this police state as for obvious reasons they don't take to kindly to journalists poking around this "Moroccan territory" and although I don't look a picture of professionalism I do have a camcorder. Which I am very much attached to.
Thankfully my time in this dusty frontier land past without problems and I met scores of the most generous and helpful people.
From Lauyone I endured several long drives through Dhakla and on to Nouadibou in Mauritania.
I had planned to ride on the open top of the afore-mentioned and famous iron ore train: The longest train in the world at 3 kilometres! Unfortunately being the bumbling dopey person I am I royally messed up the money situation.
I was ripped of by my unscrupulous driver, he short changed a 50 euro note. So I had little money and, there being no cash machines in Nouadibou, I had no way of getting any. I should have known this before hand but then I am dopey and bumbling. I had £35, which they couldn't change as they only except Euros. I tried to phone home to get money wired but had little money to spend on credit and couldn't get through. The situation started to feel desperate.
I fortunately managed to find someone to change my pounds with and was told I had just enough to get a taxi to the capital to spend the night and get a taxi the next day to Senegal where they have cash machines. I had literally just enough, it would be very tight. So began a half panicked rush to get out of the country and more long rides over impossibly long distances.
I'm now in Nouockchott the capital and they do have cash machines here. Thank God! What I’ll do next I'm not exactly sure.
I’ll write some more about Mauritania soon. Plus I hope to put some more photos on here so keep checking. Until next time...