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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 10: 4 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysBy mid-morning I'm back at the gates of Suez port. A steady line of brightly painted trucks and trailers is passing through, occasionally swerving to avoid a minibus packed to the gunwales which has in turn swerved to avoid a woman with her worldly goods on her head and a crying child on her arm.

Watersellers clang brass rings together to attract attention, but vanish into thin air at the sight of a camera, which is a pity as their kit is extraordinary. It consists of what appears to be a long-spouted silver urn from which hang glasses and which is topped with a block of ice. A tin tray is worn on the waist to collect the money. Sometimes you can hardly see the boy inside all this, giving the odd impression of robot coffee bars whizzing around the dockside. On the roadside the beggars wait patiently, many with children sitting uncomprehendingly in their arms, flies buzzing at their nostrils.

At last it seems we are clear to go through. Reservations have been made for us on a boat carrying itinerant workers to Jeddah. At the immigration counters are long lines of people waiting patiently. Inaction is a fact of life, it seems. We are, I'm embarrassed to say, expressed through, but only as far as customs where we experience a lot of inaction.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 10
  • Date: 4 October
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Suez
  • Book page no: 46

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