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Full Circle

Day 191: Quillabamba to Kiteni

Michael Palin - Full CircleWe ask where we can camp for the night and are directed through the village to a hard grass football pitch. Local children are in the middle of a game supervised by a very white man who turns out to be a theology teacher from Armagh in Northern Ireland. As Barry and his team set up camp on the centre circle, the children watch our every move as if we are men from Mars. We eat around a table in an open-sided mosquito-netted mess tent. Feel like a circus exhibit. Still, I'll do anything for soup, chicken and rice and a carton or three of Chilean wine.

Pre-bed activity is adventurous to say the least. The lavatory is a sackcloth-covered frame of sticks over a hole in the ground (so foul that my fastidious bowels fail to function) and the bathroom is a boulder-strewn stream a short walk away. Slither about among the rocks trying to find a pool deep enough to immerse myself. A chorus of bullfrogs accompanies me. Wash, gather all my things together and make my way across stepping stones back to the bank. Only when I get back to my tent do I notice I have left behind the metal soapdish I've carried with me from Alaska. Think of going back but know I won't find it in the dark. For some reason, this loss affects me. It isn't anything very precious, but the fact that I've kept it safe for many months and thousands of miles seems important. At this stage, losing anything feels like a bad omen. A sign I'm falling apart.

As I lie in bed I can hear sounds of little feet approaching, withdrawing , whispering and approaching again. Somewhere disco music is playing.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 191
  • Country/sea: Peru
  • Place: Kiteni
  • Book page no: 259

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