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Sahara

Day 4: Tangier to Chefchaouen

Michael Palin - SaharaAt one end of the square is a funduq, or caravanserai. These were originally intended to be stopovers for those coming into the town to buy and sell goods. Around a whitewashed courtyard two arcaded storeys provide room for unloading and quartering of the animals, with sleeping accommodation for their masters above. This funduq has not yet been tarted up for the tourists. A bed frame, painted silver, sits in the middle of the yard, mangy cats slope around bales of straw, a chicken, one leg tied by a string, is at the end of its tether, pecking at the ground. Robed men from out of town recline on plastic chairs, arms behind their heads, doing nothing much. The place smells, not unappealingly, of skins and leather and horse dung.

We are not allowed to film anything in Chefchaouen until we have a police escort, so we kill time in the Plaza eating minced lamb and sipping non-alcoholic drinks. The mint tea is good but dangerous, as it immediately attracts a crowd of bees. These are apparently a serious nuisance, especially in the warmer months, when special covers are provided for the tea, but the honey they make up here is much sought after. General Franco had his private supply of it airlifted to Spain.

A man in wrap-around dark glasses, straight-line moustache and a black suit approaches. The sort of man who could only be one of two things, a policeman or a pimp. He turns out to be our official escort. Throwing himself into the job with gusto, he shoos away anyone within a hundred-yard radius of the camera, creating the impression that the town has been hurriedly evacuated.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 4
  • Country/sea: Morocco
  • Place: Chefchaouen
  • Book page no: 26

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