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Sahara

Day 92: Sidi Bou Said

Michael Palin - SaharaFrom the moment she greets us it's clear that this is the sort of formidable woman who doesn't do things by halves. She has not one but twelve dogs, all of them from a shelter which she herself started. She also has three cats and four transport companies.

She introduces us to the dogs, which have names like Café, Chocolat and Vodka. One she's particularly fond of is just called Back.

'Because he keeps coming back,' she explains.

She gives instructions to an elderly manservant in a fez and green wellies, slipping her hand through his arm as they walk together through the garden. Then we repair to the waterfront to talk, for most of her life has been spent in the shipping business.

She was born on a farm near Sousse, but began work in the port of Bizerte, not as a clerk in an office, but actually on the dockside, in the resolutely male world of stevedores.

'It was hard for the first five or six years, sure. There were always little things. I always had to open the gates for myself in the morning.'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 92
  • Country/sea: Tunisia
  • Place: Sidi Bou Said
  • Book page no: 239

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