Dates With Two Swedes...Watching the Sunrise

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Flag of Western Sahara  ,
Friday, March 2, 2007

I left Marrakech on a bus at 03:30 bound for
Agidir in southern Morocco.  This bus was no Greyhound (sworn off those
too years ago), but it was only a 4 hour ride and I fully prepared
myself for the 20+ more hours on a bus once I reached Agidir.  Agidir
seemed to be a ghost town in the morning, nothing was open and when I
inquired about the next bud to Dakhla, the lady told me 7pm and it will
get me there 5pm the next day.  weighing my options, I figured to take
one of the "Grand Taxis" to Layonne and feel my way through to Dakhla
from there.  If you've ever wondered where do all the Mercedes Benz
cars circa 1979-1990 have gone look no further than Morocco.  The
entire taxi system are old Benz', regular taxis in the cities and in
the remote places like Agidir they are called Grand Taxis.  
The Grand Taxi was a bit cheaper than the bus and I would at least
arrive 12 hours or so before the bus.  the guy at the station "the
Boss" explained to me that there are 7 places in the Grand Taxis,
therefore 4 in the back and 2 in the front plus the driver.  I quickly
said no thanks cause I am just too tall to sit in the front seat with
two other grown dudes, it too hot and plus where was dude going to sit,
this was a stick shift.  I preceded to get out and said I will just
wait for the bus.  He assured me that there would be no problem and to
get back in pay the money and we could be on our way.  I should have
know something was up cause he was the only one the spoke English.
 
Everything was great, the roads were surprisingly smooth and the
weather got increasingly warmer.  5 hours into our trip at a town
called Tan Tan (should be renamed UGheta Tan Tan) the temperature must
have been over 120 degrees, but things got much hotter.  I driver
opened my door and asked me to move over because he was picking up
another person and with the 7 places in the car we had room.  I
staunchly refuse and hold my seat.  He keeps insisting (mind you this
isn't in English, but I understood what he wanted).  He keeps putting
up 6 fingers and yelling something at me and I keep repeating what I
was told back at Agidir that the Boss assured me that I could retain
the front with no problem.  Driver gets upset tries to take off my seat
belt and when I snap it back in place he reaches over turns off the
car, takes the keys and walks away in frustration.
 
Several people come over to try to resolve the situation and
I hold my place, keep my ground and calmly explain my position (no one
spoke English and I don't understand French or Arabic).  The situation
is at a standstill and my Rosa Parks stubbornness is holding everyone
up.  Finally a guy comes from nowhere asking my if I spoke any Spanish,
I say a little (man do I know more Spanish than I ever thought I
did!!).  We have a conversation about the situation and he explained
the drivers position and I explain mine and what I was told by the
Boss.  he understood, say that he would've have told me anything at the
beginning but on the road it's a different story.  Anyway we come to an
agreement that I would pay a few dollars more to keep the front seat so
that we could continue to Layonne and everything would be fine.  We
leave and the Driver and I became friends, he helped negotiate a taxi
from Layonne to Dakhla for me and I keep the front seat all to myself.
 
22 hours, 104 police Checkpoints from Agidir, I arrive in Dakhla,
a quaint town in the country of Western Sahara.  I planned to stay
there for one night and continue on to Nouahibou in Mauritania, but the
ride was so exhausting that I ended up staying a few nights.  While
there I ran into two Swedes, Veronica and David who were wandering the
earth like myself.  They bought me tea and we sat and laughed and
chatted the night away and agreed to leave together for the border.  A
man approached us with a deal to leave at 4:30 in the morning to beat
the traffic and most importantly the sun (all other transport left
after 9:00).  And the Mauritanian border was notorious for the traffic
and slowness.  We weighed our options and agreed to take the car to
Nouahibou where they would continue east and I south to Nouakchott and
then on to Dakar, Senegal.
 
Leaving in the night proved to be a great move.  There was no
traffic no heat (we travel through the Sahara Desert) and things were
well.  They shared their bag of date with me and the best thing about
leaving at night was we got to see the beautiful sunrise over the
desert...
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