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Pole to Pole

Day 76: Kanina to Shedi

Gallabat, Sudan 
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The main road to Ethiopia.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWe pile back into the vehicles only to find, round the next corner, an upended truck with its load of salt sacks scattered on the road. This, it turns out, is the first sign of a northbound convoy which pins us down for an hour or more as forty or fifty trucks and tractors pulling trailers trundle past us. These swaying, overloaded old Austins and Bedfords, all of which have five or six armed men travelling on top of the cargo, make light work of the road conditions, but I feel sorry for Mikele as he looks balefully at the deepening ruts they leave behind, over which he and the others will have to return.

At 3 p.m., having moved fourteen miles in nine hours, we emerge from the trees into a collection of army huts at the top of a hill. Down below us is Gallabat.

Like Wadi Halfa the town itself is endowed with less than its oft-quoted name might suggest. But for us Gallabat and its Ethiopian counterpart of Metemma on the other side of a shallow valley is the Promised Land, the end of the worst stretch of the journey since leaving the Pole.

Our battered convoy rolls down the hill towards a collection of thatched huts and crowds of people milling around a small grubby building marked 'Democratic Republic Sudan Customs'. It all looks unfamiliar and potentially threatening, but to our enormous relief our Ethiopian contacts - Graham Hancock, who is a journalist, and Santha Faiia, a Malaysian photographer who has lived a long time in the country - are there to meet us. They bring the welcome news that we are cleared through Sudan Customs and there are no Customs on the Ethiopian side before Addis Ababa.
Gallabat, Sudan 
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The main road to Ethiopia.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 76
  • Country/sea: Sudan
  • Place: Gallabat
  • Book page no: 162

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