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Pole to Pole

Day 75: Gedaref to Kanina

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleIbrahim chews tobacco and displays a surprising knowledge of idiomatic English.

'What is it you English say . . . ?'

'About what?'

He shifts a wad of tobacco across his mouth and back again.

' . . . you say about English ladies . . . '

I crane back to try and catch this over the revving of the engines.

'What do we say, Ibrahim?'

'All the same with the light off?'

He giggles helplessly. I'm quite shocked.

We have been travelling for nearly six hours when we reach Ibrahim's destination. His parting shot is to tell us that in his opinion we shall not reach Gallabat before dark. The drivers laugh this off, but it raises awkward questions for us. Transport from the Ethiopian side is to meet us at the border this evening and we have absolutely no means of getting a message to them if anything goes wrong.

We move on, encouraged by a faster, more solid surface out amongst the corrugated iron shacks of the village.

Then we take a wrong turning. There are no signposts and the Eritreans have not a map amongst them. Eventually we find what appears to be a dried-up river-bed. We drive along it until the Nissan gets stuck and has to be towed out by Mikele. Then Mikele gets stuck and has to be pulled out by the Nissan.

The landscape is changing from semi-desert to savannah. Acacia trees proliferate. At a village where we stop to fill the radiators the look of the people has changed too. There are fewer djellabahs and more colourful robes and cloths, as well as armlets and necklaces and other ornate jewellery.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 75
  • Country/sea: Sudan
  • Place: Gedaref
  • Book page no: 159

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