In two simple words……DON’T GO!
Laayoune is located on the north end of Western Sahara and is part of Morocco, but there is some dispute as some claim it is an independent country. Due to this disputed claim, there is a UN presence in town.
The town is in the middle of the desert next to a lagoon and the ocean is 25 km away keeping it relatively cool. When we arrived in the midafternoon it was sunny and pleasant, so Melek and I chose to take a walk around town in order to find the “Spanish Outpost” I read were here. The problem is that besides no one speaking English (Arabic and French only) no one knew of anything for a tourist to see, or of any historic buildings. So, we wandered around at least half of this 200,000 person town. They did tell us that Catalonia was the older part of town, but all it was only old houses from the 1950’s.
We had a pleasant walk that evening even if we did not find anything in particular to see. The problem was that the only flight out was at 7:30pm the next evening, so we simple hung out, relaxed, watched a movie, and did some writing as we waited the next day. Of course, we did need to eat, but the part of town we walked around in was rather dirty and Melek did not find anywhere except our hotel’s breakfast that seemed safe enough to eat.
When it was close to the time to head to the airport, we hailed a cab and I told him of a restaurant I found with decent reviews and was right next to the airport AND then I showed him where it was on Google Maps. He told us ok for 10 dirham (about $1), but took us in the completely different direction and keep showing us different restaurants, half of which were closed. We finally told him to forget about it and take us to the airport and when we got there he wanted 40 dirhams. I said no and gave him 20, 10 for going to the wrong place and 10 to come here, and walked away.
Once we got inside the airport, we found out our seats were in the back of the plane, not together, and the plane was delayed 2 hours. That is when Melek LOST IT!!!!! The poor guy at the ticket counter ran away and talked to his boss. When he came back he had two tickets towards the front and next to each other. Once we were settled in to wait I walked 10 minutes to the restaurant I wanted to go to in the first place and brought food back to Melek, but she will tell you all about that on Sunday.
I am usually quite good at finding places to see on our travels, but I freely admit in Laayoune I failed. Stay tuned to see how I do in Casablanca and El Jadida.