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Pole to Pole

Day 103: Dodoma to Kigoma

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleLater, to the restaurant car for elevenses. It is closed. All the windows have been covered up with some kind of material. Rueful smiles all round. No one seems particularly worried, except me. I try again in half an hour, only to find the rueful smiles turned to wholehearted joy at the continued closure of the restaurant. Then a soldier emerges from inside, positively wreathed in smiles.

'It is a girl,' he announces.

It must be almost as we touch the thirty-degree meridian, for the first time since the Mediterranean, that a little girl is born in the restaurant car of the Dar es Salaam to Kigoma Express. It is certainly the best thing the restaurant car has provided so far and I take it as a very good omen for the rest of our journey.

Mercury being well out of retrograde at the moment, things do seem to be going, if not comfortably, at least smoothly and we are on the final curve into Kigoma by late afternoon, only three and a half hours behind schedule on a 27-hour journey. A lush, thick, heavy heat spills in from the open doorway. Children run out from groves of bananas, papaya and mango to wave at the train. Mbego sits on the step at the end of our coach, unselfconsciously tickling the ear of his friend. There is a marked absence of the heightened stress and strain that usually grips arriving passengers.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 103
  • Country/sea: Tanzania
  • Place: Dodoma
  • Book page no: 231

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