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Full Circle

Day 211: From the Amazon to Bogotá

Michael Palin - Full CircleGenerator still out, so wash myself with what remains of my Kwik-Wipes.

By half-past eight we are at Las Tres Fronteras, the only point from which Brazil, Peru and Colombia - the first, third and fourth largest countries of South America - can all be seen at once.

Key locations on the map are rarely up to much when you actually get to them and this is no exception. Under low skies and thick, oppressive humidity, this epic crossroads looks what it is - low, cleared banks alongside a wide, sluggish, muddy river, Just another corner of the huge Amazon basin.

Black-shirted Peruvian customs and immigration board us, then we bid farewell to our fellow-travellers, off-load our equipment into two fast dinghies and head across the mile-wide stream leaving behind the El Arca, and Peru.

Leticia (latin for happiness) is the Colombian frontier town. There are problems right away. The coca-fields we had hoped to film here have been destroyed by a recent US-encouraged offensive (surprise, surprise) and what hotels there are in Leticia are full of congressmen down from Bogotá for a, wait for it, bio-diversity conference. We rest and wash at the Hotel Anaconda while our redoubtable fixer, Marcey, kicks whatever ass she can to get us on a plane north.

She is successful with the last flight of the day. Around midnight our British Aerospace 146 carries us over the Equator and out of the jungle. From sea level to 8000 feet. From thirty-eight degrees to ten degrees. From the southern to the northern hemisphere. To our twelfth capital of the journey so far, Bogotá, Colombia.

The hotel, which we reach at 2 a.m., is classy and comfortable. Linen sheets and classical music playing on the radio. Only a chain of angry red bites around my ankles reminds me of where I've come from.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 211
  • Country/sea: Peru
  • Place: Las Tres Fronteras
  • Book page no: 276

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