We were around 30 miles shy of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, when the train hit a cow, its impact signalled by an abrupt drop in speed and a sharp judder rippling through the couplings.

"What's happening?" I asked the carriage attendant as she hurried along the aisle.

"No problem," she replied brightly, without breaking stride. "A technician is dealing with it." It was only later that one of our Ethiopian neighbours told us we'd struck some errant livestock.

The passengers — my photographer Marcus Westbergand I among them — merely shrugged. We'd never kidded ourselves that this trip would be entirely

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