At last the day arrived, today I embark on a trip to the Western Sahara.
Although I have not yet been in the Sahara, I have already had contact with the Saharawi people. For years my town has been filled up with Saharawi children during the summer months. They come in the so-called Holidays in Peace, an opportunity to avoid the harsh conditions of the desert during these hot months, and the possibility of enjoying a time outside the Refugee Camps. Opportunity that year after year finds more difficulties due to the restrictions of the Spanish government.
I will always be accompanied by the memory of seeing, fascinated, the Saharawi children running barefoot on a field full of stones. However, I was unable to take a single step in such a field. Are these children immune to pain !?
The luggage is prepared, ussing up to the last gram to carry as much as possible. In the camps they depend on the international aid to survive so all the help that can be sent is little. The nerves are felt in the environment, dozens of people look forward to starting this new adventure. The announcement that our flight is going to be delayed a few hours does not help to calm down the urge to go.
We finally board. We have to stop in a lost place in the middle of the African desert and that’s when the problems begin. The plane has had several attempts to take off without success. Once again, the engines start to roar with force, the aircraft is picking up speed, and at the moment when the airplane should start to take off, the pilot brakes hard and the vehicle stops. After numerous failed attempts we are invited to go to the airport. Although we can not continue on our journey most of us feel relieved to be safe and sound on solid ground. Our trip to Western Sahara has to wait.
After many hours of waiting, uncertainty and nervousness take over the situation. It is not clear what is the reason why we can not fly. There are those who are starting to consider that maybe the best option is to return back to Spain. Anyway, we have no idea how much longer we have to wait. Finally a representative of the Spanish consulate asks us to calm down and clarifies the situation. The plane is operational and both the pilot and the crew are ready to fly. We embark again, this time everything works, soon we will land in Tindouf, Algeria.
We are traveling with The Column of the Thousand: Column 2010, an organization that started in 2008 and which organizes a trip to the Western Sahara every year It includes a demonstration in front of the Wall of Shame built by Morocco after the occupation of the Western Sahara. The intention of La Columna is to draw the attention of both the Spanish citizens and their government, to make known to the world the unfair reality that the Saharawi people suffer and to promote a definitive peace process that will end up this situation.