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Day 3: Tangier

Michael Palin - SaharaWalking to church in Sheffield was never like this. The entrance to St Andrew's, Tangier is virtually obscured this morning by a Berber street market. Doughty ladies from the mountains have taken over the pavement, spreading in front of them a fragrant assortment of fresh cheeses, onions, carrots, thick sheaves of mint, coriander, sage and rosemary.

Somewhere behind the piles of food I locate two white gateposts, which mark the way into the churchyard. Once inside, I feel like Alice in Wonderland. Nothing is quite what you expect it to be.

Down by the gatepost, squeezed into a corner of the wall, is a makeshift wooden construction that I take to be a kennel, but which, on closer examination, proves to contain a bearded old man, who glares back at me. A moment later an attractive Arab woman pops in through the gate, squats down and begins to dictate a letter to him.

Leaving the boxed scribe behind, I walk up the shaded path. On either side of me is a thick, entangled, but artfully managed secret garden of cypress, gum and false pepper trees, jacaranda and creepers and assorted thick bushes, in the recesses of which I can dimly make out graves and headstones. On closer inspection most of these bear the names of people from the Scottish Highlands. Curiouser and curiouser.
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  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 3
  • Country/sea: Morocco
  • Place: Tangier
  • Book page no: 19

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