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Pole to Pole

Day 64: Wadi Halfa to Atbara

Wadi Halfa, Sudan 
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The Nile Valley Express: Riding Roof Class.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleAs we film we seem to attract friends and enemies in equal measure. Among our friends is the Customs man who returns my confiscated video of 80 Days, grinning broadly, a little boy wearing an 'Egypt No Problem' T-shirt who attaches himself to us, and a group of Sudanese from our hotel who invite me to share some fresh grilled Nile perch with them. Our enemies are sour-faced men who appear from nowhere scowling and finger-wagging. They have taken great but unspecified objection to our presence, and quickly gather around them a small angry group, swelled into a threatening crowd by curious onlookers. Their wrath can be insistent and disturbing. One of them takes a stick to Basil, and they seem to regard the presence of Patti and Angela, unveiled and working, as particularly provocative to Islamic sensibilities. Their own women keep a very low profile. I see one move swiftly past swathed in a 'World Cup 1990' sari.

At four o'clock we cross the sand to the station. Crowds are already milling around the long train, which is made up of three open service wagons at the front, eighteen passenger coaches and eight freight cars at the back, a total of twenty-nine vehicles behind one American-built diesel.

The Governor arrives to see us off. He's exchanged his robes for the characterless but ideologically sound safari shirts favoured by Kenneth Kaunda and others. He presents me with a box of dates for the journey, and smiles and shakes hands with us all most warmly.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 64
  • Country/sea: Sudan
  • Place: Wadi Halfa
  • Book page no: 141

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