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Pole to Pole

Day 76: Kanina to Shedi

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWe carry on where we left off yesterday, bulldozing through fields of maize and millet, and sliding and swerving onto the thick mass of trenches ground into the mud by vehicles much heavier than our own. Though Mikele and his team ride the ridges bravely, flicking into four-wheel drive and plunging ahead at full throttle, there is more sound and fury than actual progress. The pervading smell of burning rubber and freshly-gouged earth merely underlines the fact that we are in the wrong place with the wrong kind of transport. Not only does the earth seem stickier and heavier, but trees are flicking at us through the windows, and as I am helping push out the Landcruiser for the umpteenth time a thorn bush drags me back. I survive, but my trousers are ripped like paper.

By ten a.m. we have moved seven and a half miles in four hours. This is our fourteenth day in the Sudan and the country seems increasingly reluctant to let us go.

The police escort given to us by the authorities at Kanina has now broken down. As they struggle to fix a water-pipe an army unit draws up, insisting that we take armed guards with us to the border. They say there are men from Mengistu's recently defeated army roaming the hills, 'living off their wits'. Now we have in addition to our own damaged vehicle a disabled police escort, and two soldiers to fit into an already overloaded convoy.

An hour later, about midday, the scenery is becoming more picturesque and we stop to allow Nigel to climb a low hill and get some shots. The soldiers become very agitated and order him back. One of them, who is travelling with Angela and Patti, has told them both that these hills are full of armed men who will not hesitate to shoot on sight.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 76
  • Country/sea: Sudan
  • Place: Kanina
  • Book page no: 161

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