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Full Circle

Day 227: Tijuana to San Diego, California

Michael Palin - Full CircleThe technology available to the Border Patrol is becoming even more sophisticated. At midnight I stand on a hill beside the Pacific on which is parked a vehicle with a camera raised on an eighteen foot arm sending infrared pictures of any movement within two miles. Working alongside these night-vision scopes are helicopters armed with powerful searchlights and sensors that detect body heat. They're thudding around above us relaying pictures to the monitors we're clustered around.

In all I have seen around the Pacific Rim, I have rarely felt the difference between the First and Third Worlds as strongly as I do now, watching the potency and sophistication of modern technology reducing human beings to maggot-like figures on a screen. The Aztecs and the Incas were destroyed by gunpowder, armour and war-horses, and the Red Indians by rifles and whisky. Progress trundled over them and, here on the borders of the USA and Mexico, as we stand watching human activity reduced to the level of a video game, I can feel the same steamroller at work.

The American paranoia that is responsible for all this will not be assuaged by events filtering through to us over the car radios. A bomb has exploded at the Atlanta Olympics. Deaths are reported. Ron shakes his head. The helicopter's searchlight rakes the fence one last time and is gone.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 227
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: San Diego - California
  • Book page no: 296

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