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Let’s leave the town, the medina and the new town behind us and let’s escape via the beach towards Diabet, a perched village south of the beach, and let’s start our discovery of a new world: Cape Sim.
A mysterious, out of the way place: one is puzzled and fascinated by it. One hears about rocks, about dunes, about a surfers’ cave. In fair weather, one can make it out in the distance. The beach stretches over kilometres and kilometres as far as the dunes that are dominated by the Wassen wind turbines on the other side of the tip and it stretches as far as the Cape cliffs that are watched over by a lighthouse, the twin brother of Essaouira lighthouse. One can walk to it but this involves a several hour walk and many prefer using a quad, a horse and even a dromedary.
As for fishermen, they search the rocks during ebb tide coming from their little hut village on bikes or motorbikes. Women prefer using donkeys and their baskets to store what they gather.
Our rambling starts at the wadi Ksob, the natural border between Arabic (chaidma) and Berber (haha) countries. We start with a little History with the sanded up ruins of dar el Soltane and with borj el baroud, a crenellated ship like stone, stranded on the beach. Numerous strollers on the beach walk up to it, a ghost like shape that puzzles them. Let’s move on with the town and the islands of Mogador fading away gently until we come to a resurgence of fresh water on top of sand watered by the tide. The beach’s name is “mahalou” which literally means “fresh water”.
A man is digging a hole and filling cans from it, cows and donkeys are wandering close by. Very near the spring, one finds fishermen’s huts and everywhere flat rocks with their hundred crevices that end into a bar of chiseled rocks: it is a different world, with a different range of activities than those from the town. The beach stretches still and becomes deserted; some rare fishermen are shell fishing and the sand dunes get higher. A series of beaches, creeks, inlets and ragged cliffs, with a string of dunes on which quads appear and disappear: a variety that makes for the richness of this very rugged coastline.
At the end, one finds the cave, Cape Sim, and on the other side a view on the boundless strands of Tagenza and Sidi Kaouiki and the heights of Wassen village where the road stops and where argan trees, mimosa and juniper take over the dunes. The lighthouse also fades away: but this is another story!
One reaches the last creek of the Cape, a bewitching world of wild beauty. The writer Tahar Ben Jelloun said: “It is the place of silence, of wind and argan trees, a place where one’s body becomes as light as a feather and let itself be carried away by the cold wind of the Atlantic Ocean. I have often dreamt of living on this hillock that rises above the sea, or on the other side, on Cape Sim”.
La prière de l’absent, Tahar Ben Jalloun, Seuil, 1981.