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Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998

Subject: Newsletter from Panama

We're in Panama at the mo. We’ve spent a week looking for a boat to go to Colombia but until this morning it was all to no avail. But this morning we struck lucky.

We’re leaving tomorrow (Tuesday) by boat to Jaque. We know the route as some friends of ours have done it and left us a 6 page letter at the British Embassy (where we also picked up some recent copies of the Times & Telegraph - the news is as boring as ever!) and we will get a launch from there to Jurado & then another boat to Bienventura (Colombia). Their letter makes it sound like hell on earth (conmen, several near capsizings & murdered sailors with their faces razed off etc. Most of the characters they refer to on the trip have nicknames like "Mr Devious", "Mr Shark") but we decided it’s preferable to the plane - and it’ll save us about $140.

We’re staying at the Foyo (opposite the Panama some friends suggested was the cheapest hotel. Stani is beginning to wonder their hotel suggestions - they obviously never saw the Panama - it has no roof or back wall & looks ready for demolition - at $6 a night & it’s actually really nice & they’re very relaxed here. Also the other reason we liked it was that as we were checking in we met another couple (English guy & Cuban girl) who are cycling from Arizona to Brazil - well he is - she joined on route from Costa Rica.

But there’s this dreadful old American on the top floor that’s as boring as hell & once he starts talking it’s difficult to stop him!

He also designs guns for the military (or did) & when Stani suggested she really didn’t want to discuss them & had strongly opposing views to his pro gun attitude , he got all narky & said that she was an indoctrinated liberal & that he hadn’t heard a single new idea out of her mouth that he hadn’t heard from every other English person he’d met (He was specific about the ENGLISH as he’s "Scottish" - or his great great great great granddad was - he actually said he expected she could recognise the Scottish in his accent!!!!!!! Sure!)

Anyway we’re thrilled to be going tomorrow as although the Panamians are probably the nicest people in Central America (- what’s the big deal about the Costa Ricans (sorry Ticos!)- we thought they sucked!) we’re dying to get on & get into S. America.

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Stani & Richard

Next Newletter:  Colombia 17 Nov 1998

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