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Pole to Pole

Day 102: Dodoma to Kigoma

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWe stop frequently, and I wish I hadn't eaten on the train. By the line-side is a feast of food - tables set up with chicken stews and rice and beans, all fresh from voluminous saucepans. Kebabs and live chickens and even a duck are bought and sold through the windows. At all these stops I've been aware of a persistent clicking sound. I thought it might be cicadas, but now I see it is made by children who carry their wares - cigarettes maybe, or bananas - in one hand and click loose coins in the other to attract business.

Craig and Nigel have ears pressed to a radio at the window, trying, in the midst of this line-side cacophony, to pick up the sound from Edinburgh where England are playing Scotland in the Rugby Union World Cup semi-final.

Nigel suddenly turns from the radio with a look of total disbelief. 'They've gone to the news! . . . They've gone to the news with two minutes left!'

As we pull away from Itigi, 105 miles beyond Dodoma, Mbego, our coach attendant, a wraith-like figure in white cap, blue tunic and trousers, appears dragging a shapeless green canvas bundle. From this he extricates my bedding, which he lays out with infinite care and precision. Later I see him sitting at the open door of the train gently and ruminatively stroking the head of a young man next to him.

Night falls and the electricity supply fails. To sleep reading Heart of Darkness by torchlight. Outside is Africa . . . 'its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of its concealed life'.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 102
  • Country/sea: Tanzania
  • Place: Dodoma
  • Book page no: 229

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