It happens every journal on every trip: out of synch. Sitting at the very top of the kasbah at Ait Ben Haddou, overwhelmed by the land all around, and I have not got us here yet. But I can always go back to how we came.

The town is spread out below along the river and the road, the usual non-orthogonal jumble of intersecting boxes. Out here in the desert the dusty pink of the house walls is of a piece with the faint greens and yellows of the surrounding hills. And on the other side of the kasbah the ground is further dusted with green, just enough to sustain a few sheep. But along the river the green almost hurts the eye with its lushness, which is odd. The bare rocks around are reflecting the hard light, the sky is intensely clear, and yet it is the green I find hard to look at.

The oasis plots seem random in shape, divided in some cases by drainage channels. From up here, most look to be planted with wheat which, I think, people cut and carry to the livestock. There are dates too, of course, and some olives, and other fruit trees that I cannot make out from up here.

The old business of vanishing as soon as you sit still comes into play too, as coachloads of tourists -- the current clump is Scandinavian -- arrive, take photos and depart. That sounds supercilious but isn’t meant to. I’m lucky enough to have time to spend, and happy to spend it, and that’s really all. The Squeeze, sitting out on the edge painting the emptiness, is even more exposed and even more invisible as the crowd avoid intruding.

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