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Pole to Pole

Day 109: Mpulungu to Shiwa

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleI can't help noticing that the lavatory on which I spend most of the night is called the Victory. A night of victory for myself and Mr Frederick Chiluba, the new President of Zambia. I only hope he feels better than I do. Acute stomach cramps and diarrhoea have kept me up since 2 a.m. I hear the sound of music from down in the town, the barking of Denish's dogs at the gates, persistent coughing from one of the overlanders' tents and, later, cocks crowing.

On the Victory at 5.30 a.m., my system seems on the verge of collapse. I'm not sure whether or not I've ever had cold sweats before, and maybe this is why the tingling in the hands, the shivering and the uncontrollable flood of perspiration is so alarming, even, to be honest, frightening. For five minutes I have no idea what is going to happen to me. My fingers are going numb, and I am shuddering and shaking and soaking in my own sweat. Isn't this what we were talking about last night? Isn't this how malaria begins? What happens to our journey if I've caught something bad? 'Pole to Mpulungu' doesn't have the same ring. It must be the evil shadow . . . I should never have had anything to do with Baela's world. We don't understand it and we should have left it alone.

This jumble of anxieties fills my mind until the attack passes. Basil fetches me a thick sweater and delves in his extensive pharmaceutical collection for some tablets. Breakfast is tea, Ryvita biscuit and honey, and a faintly sickly solution of water and rehydration pills.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 109
  • Country/sea: Zambia
  • Place: Mpulungu
  • Book page no: 248

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