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Pole to Pole

Day 126: Johannesburg

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleI'm told that if I can lift an ingot I can have it. But they've only ever lost one like this.

On the way back from Western Deep through a landscape scarred by flat grey spoil heaps fifty feet high and yellow and white plateaux of rubble hundreds of yards long I keep trying to find the answer as to why gold should still be so sought-after, so valued as to create monster technological feats like Western Deep Mine. No one seems to have a satisfactory answer.

Back at the hotel I ring my son whose twenty-first birthday it is today and realize after I put the phone down that I'm a very long way away from home, and still have a lot further to go.

Our future progress is still uncertain. The Agulhas remains adamant that there are no places, and the only alternative would be to approach Antarctica from a quite different direction, such as Australia, New Zealand or the tip of South America. But we are booked on the Blue Train to Cape Town, and as reservations on this exclusive express are almost as valuable as the ingots I tried to lift earlier, there seems no point in not completing our crossing of Africa, even if we don't know what on earth it's leading to.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 126
  • Country/sea: South Africa
  • Place: Johannesburg
  • Book page no: 285

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