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Full Circle

Day 210: On the Amazon

Michael Palin - Full CircleThe tour activities, which begin this morning at 5.45, are written up in chalk on a blackboard outside the dining cabin. Highlight of today is an evening expedition into a lake near the town of Caballococha to see and hear Amazon river night life. Bats not baccarat. Once in the middle of this great black lake Daniel orders the engine to be cut and is in the middle of a deeply felt dissertation on the unity and interdependence of all natural life when a cloud of mosquitoes gathers around him, attacking him so fiercely that he is forced to sit down and order the boat to get moving, and fast.

When we are back on the El Arca, Daniel is at pains to correct any negative impression he might have given about mosquitoes. 'Like any insect, they have many uses. One. They pollinate a certain kind of orchid. Two. They are important as food for bats.' There is a pause and an expectant silence.

'So, tomorrow at six o'clock. OK?'

Later the ship's generator breaks down, so no air-con, no pump for water, no light in the cabin. We are moored up for the night and the air is stagnant, muggy and lifeless. I have doused myself in so many layers of insect repellent that my skin feels like fly-paper. Open the cabin window as far as it will go and wait for the bat food to start buzzing round me. And this was supposed to be the comfortable part of the journey.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 210
  • Country/sea: Peru
  • Place: Caballococha
  • Book page no: 275

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