I am in the Great Sahara Desert for the third sundown in a row. Fouad and I pass back and forth a sun-bleached map of the stars. It’s more of a tug-of-war to be honest. With what remains of the daylight, we commit to memory the positions of spots on the page. We hope to find some correlation in its negative, which slides overhead as the sun rapidly dies.
"Navigating by night is always easier." Fouad flicks these English words as ash from a cigarette. "You’ll see."
"We won't see anything. That's my point!"
How did we get here?
It started eight days ago when I arrived in Malilla on the boat from Malaga. The sun hit me like a judgement as I stepped onto the gangplank. A bit about Morocco:
Morocco has a population of over 33.8 million and an area of 446,550 km2 (172,410 sq mi). Its capital is Rabat, and the largest city is Casablanca. Other major cities include Marrakesh, Tangier, Tetouan, Sale, Fes, Agadir, Meknes, Oujda, Kenitra, and Nador. A historically prominent regional power, Morocco has a history of independence not shared by its neighbours."Navigating by night is always easier."
Since the foundation of the first Moroccan state by Idris I in 789, the country has been ruled by a series of independent dynasties, reaching its zenith under the Almoravid and Almohad dynasty, spanning parts of Iberia and Northwestern Africa. Marinid and Saadi dynasties continued the struggle against foreign domination, and Morocco remained the only North-African country to avoid Ottoman occupation.
The Alaouite dynasty, the current ruling dynasty, seized power in 1666. In 1912 Morocco was be divided into a French and Spanish protectorates, with an international zone in Tangier, and regained its independence in 1956. Moroccan culture is a blend of Arab, indigenous Berber, Sub-Saharan African, and European influences.
Morocco claims the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara as its Southern Provinces. Morocco annexed the territory in 1975, leading to a guerrilla war with indigenous forces until a cease-fire in 1991. Peace processes have thus far failed to break the political deadlock.
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco holds vast executive and legislative powers, especially over the military, foreign policy and religious affairs. Executive power is exercised by the government, while legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives and the Assembly of Councillors. The king can issue decrees called dahirs which have the force of law. He can also dissolve the parliament after consulting the Prime Minister and the president of the Constitutional court.“Navigating by night is always easier.”
Morocco's predominant religion is Islam, and the official languages are Arabic and Tamazight. Moroccan dialect, referred to as Darija, and French are also widely spoken. Morocco is an influential member of the Arab League and a part of the Union for the Mediterranean. It has the fifth largest economy of Africa.