Western Sahara is a country currently occupied by Morocco and most of its inhabitants have fled to the refugee camp in Algeria called Tindouf. Most people living in the country now are Moroccans but some of the original citizens, the so called Saharawis still live there and they have previously made some violent protests in Laayoune which is the reason why our Lonely Planet guide recommended not to go there. We stayed three nights and our experience was that people were much more friendly than in the touristic cities of Morocco.
On several occasions we were invited to coffee, tea and food. One guy also wanted to pay for our taxi as he meant that it would be better for us than walking. Only in central Asia and Iran have I met as hospitable people and that definitely made up for the city itself as there was not much to see there.
One of the evenings we were also invited over to some local people’s homes to eat camel, drink whisky and smoke water pipe. At the house there was one Moroccan and the rest were Saharawis. Whenver the Moroccan was in the bathroom they were eager to tell us that they did not like the Moroccan police who would beat you up if you would be speaking too loudly about the occupation. Quite interesting to really see how deeply they feel about this political matter, much like the Palestinians, Northern Cypriots or people from Crimea felt about their occupied country.
On the 500km drive from Laayoune to Dakhla then landscape looked exactly the same with desert on one side and ocean cliffs on the other. One night we camped right on the cliffs which was a great view to wake up to the next morning.
[…] 10-11: Laayoune: The Western Saharn […]
[…] Laayoune – Also called El Aayun, is the capital of western Sahara. You are free to explore for one day before continuing […]