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Full Circle

Day 191: Quillabamba to Kiteni

Michael Palin - Full CircleThe day gets hotter. There are fewer people on the road. The Andes are levelling off into foothills and, never far from us, the Urubamba grows swifter and stronger.

Travel in this part of Peru is not encouraged. A Maoist revolutionary group known as Sendero Luminoso - the Shining Path - pursued a guerrilla war against the Peruvian government for most of the 1980s and early 1990s which resulted in more than 30,000 deaths. Since Alberto Fujimori, Japanese son of immigrants from across the Pacific Rim, was elected President of Peru in 1990, he has taken a tough line against the terrorists, culminating in the arrest and trial of the leader of Shining Path, Abimael Guzman. Officially they are no longer a threat, but the existence of police road blocks, and checks on our travel documents, show that all is not completely resolved.

If Quillabamba was the end of the railway line then Kiteni, which we reach in late afternoon, is the end of the road. There is a short trail beyond, but to all intents and purposes there is no way north from here except by river.

We rumble down the main street, which can only claim to be a street because it has buildings on both sides. In every other respect it is a patch of waste ground. A Peruvian flag hangs limply from a building with barbed wire-topped walls around it. There is a big satellite dish, a shop called 'Video Dick' and a smell of sewage.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 191
  • Country/sea: Peru
  • Place: Kiteni
  • Book page no: 258

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