We reach El Aaiún (Laâyoune, El Ayun) in the afternoon. Its streets wind over a few hills; it’s one of those towns that would take a lifetime to understand and navigate. We find some kind of a centre anyway, and call Sanae. She is the daughter of a family that we met in Akhfenir, Morocco, who invited us to stay with them here. Sanae comes and fetches us outside the call center at Rue Mekka, and we walk together to her family’s house. We end up staying twelve days in the beautiful town together with Sanae, her family and her friends. Once we leave, it feels as if leaving home.
Memories of El Aaiún
Memories of El Aaiún
The clear, warm blue sky as the sun has just set. The sand colored houses, like edgy dunes. The few but bright shining lights – the streetlights, and the naked light bulbs from inside the houses. The wind, and the sand that it whirls up from the streets and alleys. The dead empty streets as the sun has just set, and the people have gathered inside to celebrate the fasting. For dinner harira – a traditional soup that is eaten during Ramadan – or just a piece of bread dipped in olive oil. The many green-suits walking the streets. The UN’s huge, bright white shining 4×4 vehicles that fill the parking lots outside the city’s most expensive hotels; their well-fed staff that occupies the tables at the few cafés that serve burgers and fries; where the prices are on menus. Uncle Hassan, whom every afternoon comes home with something from the ocean, kept in a black plastic bag: a dozen of sardines, a couple of big fishes no one can name, or a gigantic old crab.
Going rounds of cafés with Sanae and her friend Taha. Or take a ride in some friends’ black Mercedes to the sea. There, the straight, empty street along the beach is lined by tall streetlights, which light is dimmed by the damp air. We have a coffee at the only open café there by the ocean – as empty as the street and the beach outside. As empty as the ocean.
The Christmas lights that decorate the nearby mosque. The men as they walk there for the evening prayers. Their decided steps, filled with faith, underneath peacefully swaying djellabas.