Standing on the shores of Southern Morocco, feet in the lolling surf, searching out past the rolling waters, an ancient traveler could never imagine the intrigues that lay just beyond the horizon. An archipelago of volcanic jewels, ultimately claimed by the Spanish empire, rises from the Atlantic seabed in host of an array of volcanic peaks, turquoise waters, and stunning cliffs. Dragon trees dot the island, their insides hiding a blood-red sap that oozes when sliced.
A volleyball soars above a sand-pitched court, an assortment of expats stand at either side of the net, one of whom has just set me the ball. I’m taking the game easy, trying to keep play going as opposed to letting competitive nature take over, but in this one moment, I decide to rise just a bit from the black powdered sand and take a relaxed, half-speed swing just to feel the mechanics of it after almost two years without practice. My hand connects, arm follows through, and the ball clacks into the net, falling to my side in an inglorious plume of dust. My face reddens in the tiniest twinge of embarrassment. We laugh it off and play on, as the sun sets out behind us, framed from below by a smaller island off the coast who’s ancient peak reaches to touch the burning effigy, and above by a cloud formation that willed itself to match in mirror the shape of the rising island. Twin points of soaring rock and falling mist grasp to meet in a singular ecstatic point of falling sunlight.