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Full Circle

Day 226: Tijuana, Baja California

 
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Michael Palin - Full CircleAn hour later, with the sun at its highest in a cloudless sky, a girl, not more than seventeen or eighteen, better dressed than the rest, secures white strips of cotton over her trousers as kneepads and, gesticulating to the rest of the group to wait, squeezes beneath the fence and is gone. Unlike the man before her she moves like a soldier, at a fast cat-like crouch, weaving and ducking and using the river bed for cover.

Arturo nods and turns to me. 'She's the pollero.'

Nothing moves for several minutes. Then she's up and running on. At this point another seven people, their possessions in half-empty shoulder bags, dodge through and race up the river bed. They freeze, then move, freeze and move, following the girl as she switches across from the main river bed to a steep ditch alongside a fence. Arturo watches, this time with almost painful concentration. 'They only have to make another two hundred yards to the road then there will be cars to take them on.'

The group have now reached the girl and are momentarily out of our sight. For a moment all is absolutely still. Everyone here is silently cheering them on. Then someone points. I lend Arturo my binoculars and he squints into the distance. The Broncos appear from nowhere and with slow, remorseless, almost choreographed predictability they home in on the pollos. For good measure, a helicopter chatters in and begins to circle the group. One of the pollos next to me hurls a plastic bottle at the fence, but there's nothing anyone can do, and no one wants to watch any more.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 226
  • Country/sea: Mexico
  • Place: Tijuana
  • Book page no: 293

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