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Full Circle

Day 198: Sepahua to Pucallpa

Sepahua, Peru 
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Sepahua. Waiting for the airline office (behind me) to open.
Michael Palin - Full CircleAfter our seventh night by the Urubamba we carry all our gear up the river bank for what we hope and pray is the last time. Almost the first people we run into are the American missionaries.

'I thought you were going to Lima last night?' I ask them.

'So did we, but the flight never arrived.'

'Any reason given?'

They shake their heads.

'It's the way things happen here.'

The prospect of spending another night on a sandbank is so unthinkable that I find myself scanning Sepahua's fly-blown waterfront for some alternative accommodation. Nothing, apart from the bar and the snooker hall, looks a serious possibility.

There is a small airline office attached to the general store, and the lady who looks after it, having completed the sale of some powdered milk, comes through to give us news of our flight to Pucallpa. Fierce thunderstorms are forecast. She recommends we catch whatever flight comes in today. Wherever it's going.

Two o'clock in the afternoon: Lunch at Lima airport. Six o'clock in the evening: Beer at the Hotel Sol del Oriente in Pucallpa, having flown to the Pacific Ocean and back, a round trip of six hundred miles, the only way to get ourselves two hundred and seven miles further up river.

This sprawling jungle town of a hundred thousand souls is a rude shock after the river banks. It swirls with noise. My room has a view of a wall topped with broken glass and beyond it an adult movie-house showing Pretty Anal. A visiting football team staying at the hotel is up most of the night replaying the game in the corridors of the hotel, and the restaurant can't even raise a chicken sandwich. Come back sand and toilet tents, all is forgiven.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 198
  • Country/sea: Peru
  • Place: Sepahua
  • Book page no: 269

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