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Pole to Pole

Day 104: Kigoma

Michael Palin - Pole to Pole'Put it zis vay . . . it is an experience you should go through.'

He knows the MV Agulhas, the ship we hope to take to Antarctica, and asks me to remember him to the captain.

'Sure . . . your name?'

'Doktor Brandt,' he replies after an inexplicable hesitation.

I ask him what he's doing here in Kigoma.

'Teaching blacks to use the telephone,' he replies crisply.

Having nothing better to do, I begin to suspect him of being involved in some sort of racket; later I find that I could be right, when I overhear him asking the manager, sotto voce, 'Any news?'

This surely is the stuff of Conrad. At last a whiff of intrigue and corruption in the heart of darkness.

It turns out that he is inquiring as to the whereabouts of his lavatory seat.

The manager spreads his arms helplessly. 'We wait for them . . . ' But the Doktor is not in a mood to be trifled with.

'Vy cannot you take the lavatory seat from fourteen and put it in fifteen?'

I rush to make sure my door's locked against possible loo-seat predators.

Round off a bizarre day eating goat stew and drinking Primus beer from Burundi in a local restaurant in the middle of a power cut. Our host is the taxi-driver/doctor, William, who has become our self-appointed guide to Kigoma. The restaurant, or what I can see of it in the lamplight, is rough and ready, with an ancient, almost biblical feel to it. Above the doorway is a large hand-lettered wooden board, like a pub sign. I presume that to be the name of the restaurant and ask William for a translation.

'It says "Pay Before You Leave".'

Anyway, the goat is excellent, and best of all, it is not the property of Tanzanian Railways.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 104
  • Country/sea: Tanzania
  • Place: Kigoma
  • Book page no: 236

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