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Day 45: Tirelli

Michael Palin - SaharaI'm drowsing fitfully when I become aware of other white faces on the terrace. A tall Dutchman is poking around amongst the carvings. He introduces himself as a former guide now looking for African art to sell to galleries in Europe. He doesn't think much of the collection here. The problem, he says, is that 95 per cent of the stuff is made for tourists. What he's looking for is the 5 per cent of original work that makes it all worthwhile.

He's friendly and knowledgeable and I find myself nodding sympathetically, but when he's gone I'm left with a considerable feeling of indignation. Africa is being looted once again, this time by someone of impeccable taste, who should know better. And it's pretty much defenceless, lacking the resources and the organisation to prevent its treasures ending up, like its animals once did, on rich men's walls, thousands of miles away.

Later, back at camp, our resourceful director, Mr Davidson has investigated the culinary situation and decided that the licence-payers' money is best spent on a freshly roasted goat. We're also working on a theory that wine can be chilled by burying the bottle in the sand an hour or so before drinking.

Despite the threat of krim-krim, most of the evening is spent crawling around in the darkness, trying to find where we've put it.
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  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 45
  • Country/sea: Mali
  • Place: Tirelli
  • Book page no: 142

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