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Sahara

Day 13: Ouarzazate to Tinfou

Michael Palin - SaharaThe Auberge du Repos de Sables has great character, if limited comforts. The building is a small casbah, complete with four clay-brick towers at its corners, at the top of one of which is my room. The auberge is family owned and run in very laid-back style by the El Faraj family, painters and potters whose work covers the walls. The rooms are small, whitewashed and simply furnished with bamboo and beam ceilings.

I open out my Michelin map, 'Africa North and West', until it covers most of the bed. I look at the route we've taken so far - blue sea, then red and white roads that have carried us across the green and brown of mountain and valley. From here on there is only one colour: golden yellow, stretching 1000 miles, south, east and west. The size of many Moroccos.

Except for the single word Sahara in bold black type, there is hardly any print across this emptiness apart from a number of faint blue inscriptions: 'Mejaouda, Peu d'Eau à 4m', 'Hassi Tartrat, Potable', 'Oglat Mohammed, Eau Bonne'. I realise that not only is this the first map I've used which has sources of water specifically marked, but that their names are often hundreds of miles apart. In the night a fierce wind bursts open the shutters behind my bed and I'm aware how much cooler I feel. By morning I'm reaching for a sweater.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 13
  • Country/sea: Morocco
  • Place: Tinfou
  • Book page no: 57

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