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Full Circle

Day 197: Sepahua

Sepahua, Peru 
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Sepahua. A soldier guards the river against contrabandidos.
Michael Palin - Full CircleAt seven o'clock the young soldiers from Lima, who have been given the unenviable task of guarding the beach at Sepahua, appear from the town carrying two chairs, a table and three Kalashnikov rifles. Their arrival coincides with the start of a slow, deliberate downpour and pretty soon they pack up and traipse off the way they've come. Their departure does not produce a tidal wave of narcos and contrabandidos. In fact the first boat to make a landing is a dug-out full of schoolchildren in neat grey pinafores and white cotton shirts, standing in a solemn line as they cross the wide Urubamba from the misty western shore. I expect them at any moment to break into 'The Hills are Alive!'. Clem is feeling worse today and cannot rise from his bed unaided. A marvellous improvised chair is made for him out of boxes and benches in which he can sit upright and supported. From a distance he looks like some mediaeval monarch.

I spend half an hour in a futile attempt to rid my tent of sand. Have no clean clothes left. It's just a question of wearing what is least disgusting. In the middle of the morning the last of the rain clears leaving behind a blanket of suffocating heat. The only possible defence against this energy-sapping airlessness is not to move at all, but enquiries need to be made about flights out, and Barry and myself walk along the beach and into town.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 197
  • Country/sea: Peru
  • Place: Sepahua
  • Book page no: 268

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