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Pole to Pole

Day 116: Livingstone

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleAs soon as I leave the boat I know I should have stayed in it. The current is fast and there is no way of controlling my progress. Within half a minute I'm swept and spun along before being tugged helplessly beneath the water by a reverse wave. I strike what is incontrovertibly a rock, and what's more a particularly sharp and unyielding rock.

The full force of the impact is taken on my lower back, protected, thank God, by my life-jacket, and probably by Fraser's tape-recorder. My calf meanwhile cracks against another rock that wasn't supposed to be there either. Winded by the blow, I struggle up to the surface driven by a potent and uncontainable sense of indignation. This enables me to roar, 'You bastards!' and take in a mouthful of Zambesi before disappearing again.

My companions are already ashore and gazing around with expressions of beatific happiness when at last I fight my way clear of the current and clamber up the rocky bank. I don't want to spoil the party so I keep smiling and begin the slow ascent of the gorge, content in the knowledge that, whatever I might have done to myself, Fraser's condoms are still intact.

At the hotel another bruise to add to the two already growing - one of my missing bags has arrived, the other has been lost by Zambian Airways and no one seems to hold out any hope of finding it.

Whatever baleful influence has been at work in Zambia, it has persisted to the end.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 116
  • Country/sea: Zambia
  • Place: Zambesi River
  • Book page no: 260

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