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Sahara

Day 7: Fez

Fez, Morocco 
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Fettah and Naomi's daughters, Emily and Narjiss, play with their cat, Compost, who, naturally, prefers lying in a garden bed.
Michael Palin - SaharaThis must account for all the smiling ladies in the kitchen, preparing food, playing with the children, helping here and there. It must account for why Fettah can find time for work, teaching, restoring the house and running music festivals, and why sometimes Naomi misses privacy and space of her own.

'Fez is quite a traditional city and people are fairly conservative. If you go out in the street you have to have a reason for going out, for shopping and visiting...you don't just sort of amble. Women are at home, cooking, cleaning, looking after children, that's their role.'

This is said with a touch of regret but no malice. Anyway, Naomi thinks that attitudes have changed in the three years she's lived in Morocco. People are less frightened of expressing themselves, of talking about politics.

'Holding hands and kissing in doorways. That's all changed since I've been here.'

This day of peace and quiet, walking around Fettah and Naomi's garden, eating a vast couscous around the table on the terrace, hearing of their plans for the house and their affection for these unique surroundings, has lulled me into a dangerous sense of contentment. I haven't thought of the Sahara all day.

It's all about to change. This time tomorrow, inshallah, we'll be in the city of Marrakesh, beyond which sand and mountains merge into the edge of the void. Ring Jonathan Dawson in Tangier to thank him for his hospitality, only to hear that Birdie has broken his beak. Apparently he pecked at some phantom delicacy on the terrace and bit hard on a floor tile. His beak has gone black at one end and may have to be removed.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 7
  • Country/sea: Morocco
  • Place: Fez
  • Book page no: 41

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