1104 Desert Makeover Town (Mor 346)

Trip Start Aug 15, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 049: 4 hours,

As we continue deeper into the desert, I start to notice, every couple hundred meters a brand new, identical cinderblock building that looks like a tiny two room schoolhouse. As there are numerous clusters of shacks probably used by fishermen, I assume it's a new government program to provide education for the children of fishermen… but there are just way too many of them…

Later I learn that these are meant for soldiers, stationed to guard the coast.  It’s a program partially sponsored by Spain to try to stop illegal immigration (mainly by Subsaharan Africans) to the Canary Islands which aren’t too far from here.   Most of the buildings it seems are empty, so I don’t know how well this project is working… The whole thing kind of has me scratching my head…

Tarfaya is another middle of nowhere town with little transportation in or out of it, but it’s a historically important town.  This will possibly be my last journey to the Southern Desert, so I really need to explore all of its important towns. 

Discovering Tarfaya

Tarfaya is a sleepy little town, but surprisingly spruced up, with new lampposts and houses freshly painted in blue and white, the traditional colors of Moroccan coastal towns.  But on closer look, I realize that only the neighbourhood to the north of main street is fixed up—the neighbourhood on the other side isn’t even paved yet.  Later a guy tells me that Tarfaya’s makeover only started a year or so ago—before that it was a pretty neglected town. 

I follow the quiet side streets to… what’s is that? A museum!? In Tarfaya?!  Apparently Saint Expury the writer of "the Little Prince" lived in Tarfaya once, and there’s a museum about him—although it’s closed now.  Beyond are a couple of crumbling Spanish structures, relics of when this was a Spanish colony, and a nice new city hall.   Then there’s a beach next to the port—and yet another surprise: a two storey stone building… all by itself out in the middle of the sea!

This is actually the symbol of Tarfaya—I’ll see it later on political campaign posters… not sure what the story is, but it’s definitely something unique about this town. 

Heading back to town, I pass a group of fellows playing football and I can’t help wonder what it must be like being a teenager in a town like Tarfaya, where the rest of the world feels so, so far away…
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