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Pole to Pole

Day 107: Kigoma to Mpulungu

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleAboard the Liemba, Lake Tanganyika. The last day of October, 1991. Have taken a capsule of Imodium as a prevention against having to make use of the toilet facilities. I know it is unwise to meddle with my metabolism but the alternative is too frightful to contemplate.

It has rained before dawn and I step out of my cabin onto the head of a sleeping figure swathed in cotton robe and woollen shawls. I needn't have bothered with my profuse British apologies as he doesn't wake up. A row of passengers is sheltering beside him. Their heads turn towards me, defensive and unsmiling. My hot and airless little cabin may not be the last word in comfort but it is First Class, and I know that by the time I return from breakfast the officious policemen on board will have shooed these people back down below.

Later in the day the captain agrees to be interviewed. His name is Beatus T. Mghamba and he lives on the bridge deck, which is nearly always empty apart from the lifeboats (made by Meclans Ltd of Glasgow in 1922), a jolly group of ladies and a hard-drinking Englishman. At the appointed time for the interview - about five in the afternoon - I knock on Captain Mghamba's door. After some time it is answered by a handsome dreadlocked lady who is obviously surprised to see me. I ask for the captain. She disappears into the cabin. There is a long wait and some muttering before she returns.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 107
  • Country/sea: Tanzania
  • Place: Kigoma
  • Book page no: 241

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