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Full Circle

Day 179: Arica to La Paz

Michael Palin - Full CircleA single ticket to La Paz costs fifty-two dollars, 'in clean US bills only', my guidebook adds. Once paid, there is nothing to do but wait. When the train that is to take us over the Andes finally arrives there is a palpable sense of anti-climax amongst the sprinkling of mainly foreign travellers who have been checking their watches with increasing anxiety for the past hour. All that stands between us and Bolivia is a single dusty, silver-grey rail-bus, designed and built in Germany thirty years ago to potter round the suburbs of Munich. Like Pringle Stokes and John Roberts Jones it seems destined to end its life far from home. And probably quite soon.

Every item of heavy baggage, and we have forty-eight alone, is hoisted onto the roof by the stationmaster assisted by his wife, an endlessly cheerful lady in a beige cardigan. Vitaliano, the driver, helps from time to time. He has been driving the Ferrobus since 1992, he says, and adds proudly: 'I have been filmed four times.' (Not exactly what our director wants to hear.)
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 179
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Arica
  • Book page no: 235

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