Name ID 2455
Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 140a
Extract Date: 1996
Our next destination was Malagarasi and the river of the same name. Malagarasi was the final station in the Fourth Region of Burton's trek. Once he crossed the river, he was within ten stations of Ujiji and Lake Tanganyika. From Kwihara we took a narrow, rough road (just a footpath, really) through planted fields and poor settlements, then managed to pick up the main road again about six kilometres beyond Tabora. In Tumbi, a small village, we asked where we could buy some wanzuki — the local honey brew. We were too late, however, as it had all been sold. We did see one old lady preparing the next day's batch of pomoni, and she was happy to show us how she dried corn mash on mats.
We passed through the town of Ndono and, twenty kilometres beyond it, encountered another truck breakdown. We gave one of the passengers a ride to Urambo to get a spare wheel, and in return he promised to take us to buy some wanzuki. We filled up with more petrol (just in case), then went in search of our tipple.
Pandemonium! Crowds of women and men, well spliced on wanzuki, which was being served by the gallon. Everybody seemed to be having a lot of fun. We bought almost a gallon — several Pepsi-Cola bottles full were emptied into our gallon container — then headed westward on the main road to Malagarasi.
A little over 130 kilometres from Tabora we broke off from the main thor¬oughfare and pitched camp about a kilometre from the road. The flower of the terminalia tree has a very distinctive, rancid smell, which is supposed to attract flies. The odour is almost like that of bad butter or bad cheese. It was all around us. I decided just to get used to it. What else could I do?
While Ali cooked our dinner we drank the wanzuki. No wonder the local people were having such a good time. Thad and I poured ourselves two full beakers of the tan-coloured local drink — made with honey, yeast, and roots. It was an effervescent and very pleasant drink — thirst-quenching, if a bit too gaseous. It was slightly sweet — halfway between a beer and a wine. A bit like mead, perhaps. It had a definite kick, and I was quite light-headed after the third beaker.
We took showers, using our ingenious shower contraption. At 2:00 a.m. there was another kind of shower — rain. It lasted a short time, but long enough to wake us all. Pollangyo had a bad stomach, which he blamed on the meat that Ali had cooked.