When I was a boy, I had a stamp from the Spanish colony Ifni in my stamp collection.

It was a big, pretty stamp, showing a fortress by the ocean on the brink of the desert. The picture stayed in my mind and Ifni became a mythical and mystical place where I always wanted to go.

And now I was only 67 kms away. This turned out to be one of the nicest drives I have made. The desert meets the ocean, the beach runs forever, the Atlantic swell coming up and breaking with a roar. The road ran along a cliff, for the most part around 50 meters above the beach. On my left, a low mountain chain that was made for paraflying. On my right, the ocean and the setting sun. On a few places, there were coves and inlets where they had the most beautiful beaches. There were a few small villages and one town, Mirleft, that had a plage, but otherwise this coast was nearly virgin. I imagine it looked like the best part of the Spanish Sun Coast did seventy five years ago. I wonder what it will look like say twenty years from now. Perhaps like southern California?

Sidi Ifni itself was nothing like the picture on the stamp, but a very pleasant small town with perhaps ten thousand inhabitants, whitewashed houses, a hospital, banks with ATMs and a busy main street lined with cafés. A nice little Hotel de Ville where I would love to stay someday, a beautiful lighthouse built like a mosque by a steep cliff where the city ends and overlooking the beach far below where children were playing with a Frisbee. It appeared I was the only tourist in town. I spoke to a couple young boys and to my joy they spoke Spanish, which I muster much better than French.

I wouldn’t mind returning to Sidi Ifni and spend more time. But I had to leave to meet the others in Guelmin, 43 kms away at six o’clock for dinner.