While the contested territory called Western Sahara begins somewhat further south, the first signs of the desert appear near the town Goulimine. From here all the way down to the start of the Dakhla peninsula the national road N1 passes through the stony landscape called hammada.True sand dunes are rare in this area, but here and there one sees isolated drifts of sand, marked with exotic patterns by the wind.For much of the way the national road keeps the desert on the western side and the sea on the east. The coast consists of hundreds of kilometres of cliffs with great Atlantic breakers, landscape all the more impressive for its isolation and complete lack of development.
Hitchhiking in the north of Morocco normally requires less than ten minutes of waiting. With the sparse traffic in the south, I found myself at the roadside for an hour or more at a time under a hot sun. A lightweight camping chair, a cheche and a big bottle of water proved essential items. I passed the time with Saint-John Perse’s Anabase, Exil and Amers, appropriate reading for these landscapes of desert and ocean.