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Sahara

Day 19: Tfariti

Michael Palin - SaharaRevenge of the camel. Plucked from deepest sleep, I just have time to stumble up from my mattress, grab torch and toilet paper, pull open the jarring metal door of our dormitory and race to the nearest lavatory. A strong wind has got up and I'm aware of how Gothic a scene this must be - white T-shirted figure with disordered shock of hair, sprinting along concrete passageways open to the sky, as the wind howls after him, setting doors and windows banging.

I know things are bad as I have to do this twice more, on each occasion reaching the hole in the ground only just in time and holding my breath against the stench emanating from it.

Five o'clock. Woken by the chimes of a grandfather clock. For a moment I believe myself to be safe and well in some ivy-covered country-house hotel, and then I remember that the sound is coming from John Pritchard's alarm clock and I'm actually recovering from diarrhoea in a barracks in Western Sahara.

Roger and Bachir try to cajole the reluctant, slumbering drivers into a six o'clock start, but they won't move until they've lit a fire and brewed some tea. It's nearer seven when we bounce and sway off down the hill, heading north and east for a privileged glimpse of the front line between Moroccans and Saharawis, one of the world's best-kept secrets.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 19
  • Country/sea: Western Sahara
  • Place: Tfariti
  • Book page no: 70

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