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Sahara

Day 5: Chefchaouen to Fez

Chefchaouen, Morocco 
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The Jebala Mountains rise above Chefchaouen. Soaring peaks protect many religious communities, on whom the modern world has barely intruded.
Michael Palin - SaharaWake feeling distinctly queasy in the digestion department. Bowel control will be essential this morning as the prospect of being washed and scrubbed and massaged before the cameras looms. Am tempted to take a tab of Immodium, but this turns intestines into Elgin Marbles and I'm not ready for that. I'll have to rely on mind over matter, never one of my strong points.

It turns out I'm not the only one affected this morning. Anyone who had the minced lamb in the main square last night is feeling similarly delicate. The hammam is neither health club nor massage parlour. Its function is primarily religious; to provide ritual cleansing and purification. Before attending prayers in the mosque, every good Muslim must wash hands, lower arms, nose, mouth, ears, feet and ankles. If he or she has had sexual intercourse that day, a complete body wash is expected.

The abundant amounts of hot water required for such ablutions were, and often still are, beyond the means of most households, hence the importance of the public facility.

I'm not surprised to hear that there appears to be difficulty in obtaining permission to film. In fact, I feel slight relief.

But our police escort manages to talk them into it, provided we film before the baths open for men at eleven. Women's hours are in the afternoon.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 5
  • Country/sea: Morocco
  • Place: Chefchaouen
  • Book page no: 28

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