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Full Circle

Day 183: Copacabana to Puno

Michael Palin - Full CircleLast night's enthusiasm was premature. I didn't get to sleep beside Lake Titicaca. I did get to lie awake beside Lake Titicaca, and every now and then scramble out of bed and scour my bags for fresh clothing, beside Lake Titicaca. When morning came, I was dressed like an Arctic explorer and still shivering. I have not been as cold in a bedroom since I was at boarding school and woke one particularly hard winter to find an inch of snow on the end of my bed. To make matters worse, at the dead of night, a child screamed, its cries echoing round the courtyard for what seemed like hours. Early this morning explosions rent the air. Someone told me at breakfast that it was Saint Anthony's Day today, as though that explained everything.

I'm at a low ebb. I haven't slept well since we left Chile. The altitude has not given me headaches or nosebleeds or any of the colourful symptoms I can boast of when I get home. Just a steady, energy-sapping deterioration in quality of sleep. At far too regular intervals I wake short of breath, heart pounding and mouth dry. And today, in preparation for the Amazon jungle, I start on the high-strength larium anti-malarial drugs again.

At ten thirty we are at the border town of Kasani. 'Town' is a flattering description of a small settlement of ugly, half-finished modern buildings grouped around a square of patchy grass, which is being slowly nibbled bare by a pair of white llamas. Beside the pistachio-coloured customs house, the red, gold and green bands of the Bolivian flag droop in the rising windless heat. There was frost on the ground early this morning, now I'm down to shirtsleeves.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 183
  • Country/sea: Bolivia
  • Place: Copacabana
  • Book page no: 246

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