The time has come, the great day we were all waiting for and for which we have been preparing so much. Today we will go through the Sahara Desert for hours under the harsh conditions of this inhospitable place. Then we will unite as a human wall, we will gather our banners together with our hands, throats, and hearts. And then we will scream for the freedom of the Saharawis. Today is the day of the demonstration against the wall in the Western Sahara.
We get up very early in the morning. The chill of the night still lingers removing our morning lethargy. And the clothes that now protect us from the cold will soon protect us from the Sun, the dust and the sand of the desert. The atmosphere is calm and cheerful, yawning revives us as we prepare for this new day. Ahead we have hours of sitting in the back of a truck, suffering at every bump, vibrating through our knees and back at each turn. With the dust making breathing and seeing difficult, but we aren’t missing much, as all that lay ahead of us is an endless amount of sand under the scorching Sun.
Although the conditions are tough we are getting along well, or that is what I was thinking until I saw one of my friends trying to hide some tears behind the sunglasses. I imagine he may be suffering from something we have eaten. The food we are eating is different and this enviroment is not as clean as we are used to. I wish I could share some of his suffering. Later, at a pit stop, I will know that my friend is perfectly well and that the reason for his tears is something deeper than a physical discomfort. Somehow I understand how he feels, it seems that I am not the only one this trip is changing.
We finally arrive at our destination. We are at the border between the occupied territories and the liberated ones, facing one of the most shameful constructions created by human beings. The demonstration against the wall in the Western Sahara takes place several kilometers away from it this year. The protest used to be near the wall, very close indeed. Last year, one of the Saharawis was seriously injured by a mine so today we demonstrate far from the danger.
In the distance one can see the reason why we are gathering together. The reason for our protest. The wall creates an irregular horizon where small armed creatures can be seen. There is a column of sand and weapons symbolizing injustice there, and there is a column of united people representing freedom here. Between both sides of this reality is an illusion, a mirage. The sand of the desert is so hot that it reflects the light as if it were a lake. It seems as if there was a pool of water between us and the Moroccans.
The atmosphere is getting warmer and warmer. As a result, the rage explodes in the Saharawis making them to run against the wall loaded with stones and impotence. Panic grips to those who have been left behind, the accident of the last year is still very much alive in their memories. It is then when several off-roaders go out to capture the reckless runners and luckily they are able to stop them. In the meantime a group of Saharawis run through the column armed with a megaphone and charged with slogans. The energy and intensity with which they are shouting is impressive. And such is the strength of their throats that it seems that they are going to be heard from all over the world.
Finally, the demonstration against the wall in the Western Sahara is coming to an end. The image of a child running with his kite flying in the wind relieves the feeling of rage. There is nothing more free than a flying kite in the hand of a child. On the floor we will leave the banners and we will write our sentiment in a final cry. After several moments unable to write anything, some words appeared written: “I AM SAHARAWI”.
We leave the conflict zone, it is time to take a rest and protect us from the burning sun. All the demonstrators have gathered together in the middle of the desert. No matter where you look, the only thing you can see is sand and more sand. We receive a small box with something to eat, a survival kit: a can of tuna, a boiled egg, an apple, some cookies … It is not the best food I have had in my life but, considering the circumstances we are in, it is jus perfect. And there are several bushes in the area so we can even eat protected from the Sun, it is a luxury.
After having rested a bit and after a few words thanking everyone for the support offered to the Saharawis, in an improvised stage in the back of a truck, the party begins! Everyone celebrates, singing and dancing with the music. The heat and fatigue we feel is not an excuse, neither the injustice nor the misfortune of their situation. Again and as always, in front of my eyes, the reality of joyful people, the human warmth of the Saharawi. We have made a demonstration in front of the Wall in the Western Sahara fighting for their rights, now we celebrate that we are alive and we delight for the solution of this conflict.
It is time to go back to the Camps. The satisfaction of what we have done today will not be enough to alleviate the agony that is experienced in the back of the truck. We are full of dust and unable to find a comfortable posture, suffering every irregularity of the road in each joint of the body. We clustered together trying, in vain, to protect ourselves from the hot desert afternoon. The roar of the truck mixes with our silence. Gazes at the infinite emptiness or at the ground of our vehicle, the body longing for being confortable at home and the mind restless trying to assimilate what has happened today. The journey will continue like this for a few more hours as time stands still in the depths of my being. Today has certainly been a special day in my life. I will always remember the day of the demonstration against the Wall in Western Sahara.