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Full Circle

Day 184: Puno to Cuzco

Michael Palin - Full CircleWake at five forty-five. Immense view over the reeds and mud-flats from my window. Our hotel stands on a promontory near the town. It's long, low and modern, like some sinister medical research centre. They provided a thoughtful English translation of the Spanish telephone instructions, but I gave up after reading it twelve times.

We have to be at the station early to catch the Cuzco train. First news at breakfast is that there is a railway strike. Rumour races around fed by a wealth of information, all completely contradictory. But when we get there the train is in the station and a man is selling fluffy llamas on the platform so all's well.

There are three classes on the train, Primera or First which is quite rough, Segunda which is very rough and Inka which is for tourists. Inka class is air-conditioned and protected from the rest of the train by locked doors. These become a source of great frustration as we try to film. Tempers flare. As we've not even left the station this is not auspicious. But we leave Puno on time, despite the strike rumours, and, after much haggling, I am allowed to travel in the non-air-conditioned splendour of Primera Class. It's axiomatic that wherever there is least space you will find people with the largest and most bulky luggage. Huge shapeless bundles are spread across the gangway. They are negotiated skilfully by a steady stream of vendors offering water, cigarettes, oranges, empanadas, chocolate, coca tea, even guitar solos. All human life is here, as the News of the World used to say, except of course for those who have come to see the country in style. They're locked in Inka class, looking at each other.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 184
  • Country/sea: Peru
  • Place: Puno
  • Book page no: 248

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