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Pole to Pole

Day 112: Shiwa to Kasanka

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWake after another uncomfortable night. My digestive system still unruly. I would like to have felt fully recovered before venturing Polewards again. Patti is in a far worse state. Huge doses of chloroquine seem to have knocked out the fever but left her head and stomach aching. She leaves before the rest of us for a blood test at the Chilonga hospital.

Bid our farewells to the Harveys, who have been generous with their time and hospitality. On our way out we pass another testament to the Gore-Brown brand of colonialism. This is the estate hospital, opened in 1938. Now it has been downgraded to a clinic, and many of the buildings lie abandoned, pitched roofs open to the skies, discarded bed-frames rusting against the wall. But it is still useful, and up-to-date. 'Sex Thrills, AIDS Kills. Stick to One Sexual Partner' reads a poster on the office wall, from which one of the nurses is removing Kenneth Kaunda's portrait.

Today is immunization day and 200 women and children have arrived to be inoculated against whooping cough, polio, TB, tetanus and measles. They are dressed immaculately, the children in the fussiest knitted caps and coats and some women in tweed skirts and high heels despite the 90 degree heat. But the decay of the place, the smell of dust and dirt and the sweet sweat of humanity, is unavoidable. Africa is rewarding but demanding.

Uneventful ride south through trees and scrub. At a service station in Mpika I make my first acquaintance with the gloriously named Eet-Sum-Mor brand of biscuits. Nigel manages to pick up commentary of the England-Australia Rugby World Cup Final as we bounce and weave through a forest. The more Australia score the weaker the signal becomes. This time no one complains when they break off for the news.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 112
  • Country/sea: Zambia
  • Place: Shiwa
  • Book page no: 253

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