We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. Click here to find out more. Allow cookies

arrow Register here

Forgotten password?

Full Circle

Day 195: On the Camisea and Urubamba River

Michael Palin - Full CircleWhen everyone is assembled a grace is spoken - which must indicate a missionary influence - and juanitos (named after John, the saint whose day is being celebrated) are passed around. These consist of fish and rice, or tapir meat and rice, wrapped neatly in a bijao leaf. There is desultory talk but not much else.

It might be our presence that inhibits them, but I think it is more than that. As we leave, the headman confirms that the Shell oil company provided them with tin roofs in return for their co-operation and that he expects the petroleros to return soon, in numbers, to activate the wells they have explored, and in some cases, already dug. He is happy that they are coming back, but it might account for the listlessness of the village. Everyone in Shivankoreni knows that very soon things will never be the same again.

An hour or so up the Urubamba the high whine of a speedboat can be heard from a tributary river and there emerges a fast aluminium hulled dinghy beneath whose sun canopy sit a dozen oil men. They are arranged in orderly rows, like Play People, with matching yellow hard hats and orange life preservers. It's impossible to see their faces and they barely glance our way as they sweep past and disappear down river leaving us to rock about in their wash and their indefinable aura of hostility.
Choose another day from Full Circle


  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 195
  • Country/sea: Peru
  • Place: Shivankoreni
  • Book page no: 266

Bookmarks will keep your place in one or more series. But you'll need to register and/or log in.