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Sahara

Day 10: Marrakesh

Michael Palin - Sahara'I'm going south, across the desert. I can't take things like that with me.'

He shrugs, as if to say how could anyone who knows the Sombrero Club be going south across the desert.

There are some bewitching sights. Lengths of freshly dyed cotton are hung to dry across one alley, forming a swirling indigo canopy above us, and in the yard that leads off it I catch a glimpse of the men who dye the cloth, bent to their task, arms and torsos stained deep blue.

By the time I leave the souk the sun's going down, and so are my energies. Then I remember that I have to find Yves Saint Laurent.

Yves, as I like to call him, lives in and owns the Majorelle Garden, a botanical garden in the New Town, and Adolpho de Velasco lives in a house surrounded by tall trees just over the wall from the great man. Adolpho is more than a neighbour; he is one of Yves' forty 'favourites', which, amongst other things, means being privileged to receive one of his specially painted Christmas cards. Adolpho has a set of them, all framed, of which he is very proud. He's proud too of how he has expanded his cottage by converting a loggia into a conservatory, with an open fire crackling at one end and the stout trunk of a false pepper tree rearing up and through the roof as if an elephant's foot had just come through the building.

Immaculate in a gold-trimmed djellaba and stroking a very large citrine medallion around his neck, Adolpho smokes imperiously, talks flamboyantly and orders his servant to replenish my glass of pink champagne with such frequency that almost every sentence of my interview ends with the words 'don't mind if I do'.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 10
  • Country/sea: Morocco
  • Place: Marrakesh
  • Book page no: 45

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