...Into the afternoon the mountains changed from red to yellow and the villages we passed also became yellow. The green ribbon valleys widened and paled until they were clusters of rocks folding up into hills and topped with the occasional owl-shaped tower, all before we plummeted into Ouarzazate—a crossroads town from where a narrow line followed the Draa Valley out of the mountains and through a couple basins to the Sahara Desert. Seventy kilometers past Zagora, in the smallest print on the map, the line stops.

Beyond this terminus—beyond the last village café, that little alley with the upended donkey cart, the wash of black plastic sacks and sheep skeletons, the low outskirt walls, and amidst finally the orange tumbling dunes and dusty trees—we found an abandoned and roofless adobe house. Inside it was calm. The walls were thick and warm. The rooms were square and empty, save for the occasional curled black fist of dogshit or the large empty tin for lentils. The shadows had softened; the sun at this point had been obscured by blowing streaking sand and white that howled over our heads as some kind of spectacle from which we had completely dissociated ourselves.