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From My Notebook 48 Years Ago: Costa Rica to Nicaragua

June 4, 2023

In May 1975 I was making my way up through Central America. After 18 months on the road, in Africa and South America, I was almost half way round the track I’d set myself. Feeling a bit weary I was bedazzled by the prospect of California and, moving faster than I should have, I crossed into Nicaragua from Costa Rica.   May 11 Drove up […]

From My Notebook 48 Years Ago: Leaving Panama

May 28, 2023

I spent a lot of my early life very close to Portobello Road, in North Kensington, so I felt a particular attachment to the Spanish port of that name. This is where Spain counted and loaded its treasure fleets.   An obvious target for pirates and privateers, it was well defended. You can see the canon still lined up below, facing the Caribbean.     […]

From My Notebook 48 Years Ago: In The Zone

May 21, 2023

From the rough and ready life on the road in 1975 I’m transported to the big rock candy mountain, a bubble of luxury kept inflated by the US Navy and its Marines.   April 15th, a Monday Life in the Canal Zone begins on Rodman Marine Base. Thirties barracks buildings, big, spacious, landscaped – now a golf course runs through the middle. Captain John B. […]

From My Notebook 48 Years Ago In Panama

May 14, 2023

In 1975 the Panama Canal and roughly 5 miles either side of it was still US territory and called the Canal Zone. Politically I was trying to stay neutral, although the Vietnam War was at its height . . . I had no idea what to expect, but my sponsors, the Lucas company, had an important depot in Panama.   11th April, 1975 Leave San […]

From My Notebook 48 Years Ago In Cartagena: A Boat To San Andrés

May 7, 2023

Still following my notes from 48 years ago in Cartagena on the Caribbean coast. Trying to get to Panama, but with no idea how to get there, I took my bike on a boat to a pirate island, San Andrés.   At sea There were flying fish, but no albatross this time. It was a fairly easy sea. Ship was “Ciudad de Zap … something […]

From My Notebook 48 Years Ago This Month In Colombia

April 30, 2023

I’m back again, after three weeks in California and another week recovering from my first dose of Covid: but I’ve had five vaccinations and apart from one day of sickness and a few other days just feeling tired and unbalanced, I’m fine. So as promised I’m going to plunge you back into my diaries of 1975, and I am just leaving Medellin, Colombia, hoping to […]

From My Notebook 48 Years Ago This Week: The Road To Medellin

March 19, 2023

Well, I’ve got my work cut out. Hundreds of you came out of the woodwork to tell me to keep at it, so in deference to my readers here is a bumper edition from my South American notebook of 1975.   Good trips, bad trips – the road to Medellin After Bruno’s unfortunate meeting with the front of a lorry, which reduced his Renault to […]

From My Notebook 48 Years Ago This Week: In Colombia

March 12, 2023

Feb 4 Into the Cauca valley. Tropical. Bananas. Music. Good asphalt road. I flew. Up a mountain. Down again. Up again, and then sat there watching Bruno’s van appear over the previous summit. (The van had a damaged cardan, or half-axle) Went on to Popayan. Pretty town. Colonial Facades. Churches with beautiful carved wood, gilt and maroon on white. Remember the pulpit of San Francisco. […]

From My Notebook 48 Years Ago This Week: From Quito to Otavalo and Pasto

March 3, 2023

Feb 21 Leave Quito. Too late. Fantastic downpour & hail. Inches of water on roads. Bike fails on way out, but only for a short time. Reach Otavalo at nightfall. Frozen. Indian café. Find Peace Corps house. Ray (Raimundo) receives us. Sleep in kitchen. Ray illustrates textbooks to help Quetchua-speaking Indians to learn Spanish. Very pleased with progress of program. Feb 22 Saturday. Market at […]

From My Notebook 48 Years Ago in Ecuador

February 26, 2023

Four days on the road to Quito Feb 14, 1975 We Left Guayaquil in the rain, over the bridge again and back along the same road to El Triumfo, a busy, muddy cross-roads with roadside stalls selling bananas, pineapples, small mangoes, and muddy-looking juice. Bought two pineapples for 4 sucres (7p). These stalls always look crammed with a variety of foods until you look closely […]