in Marginalia

Harding on tea in the Sahara desert

Photo by Steve Monty/Flickr.com

Steve Monty/Flickr.com

The tea smelled good. It had been prepared by one of the men, who transferred it back and forth between a set of shot glasses and an enamel teapot lodged on a bed of coals in the sand. The fighters enjoyed their tea — always the ritual three draughts. The first, they said, should be sweet, like love; the second, bitter like life; and the third soft, like death.

— Jeremy Harding from Polisario, an account of his encounters with the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia El Hamra y Rio do Oro, a group of guerillas who fought Spanish conquerors in the Western Sahara that later opposed the Moroccan government, as published in the Granta 26: Travel, Spring 1989.

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