PAUL K LYONS
LETTERS - 1976 - APRIL
Lights of a land
Quickly slipping into a dream
Into stars that are a wheel
Leaving days of gold
Leaving days of cold
Leaving my spit upon centuries of spit
Leaving my tears on these shores
3 April, Auckland
Today 3 April, I am leaving New Zealand after a sojourn of 14 months here. I am working my passage to Panama on an enormous container boat 'The Columbus America' - I was so glad finally to have my journey sorted. I really had to work on the ship's captain to get the job, but, where there is a will there is a way. I have waited almost three weeks for this boat now. I have my own private cabin, and private shower room. I share a block with the another work-a-way. We have beautiful German food: three hot meals a day, plus German bread and sausage and cheese, lemon tea and excellent coffee whenever we want. We are not worked hard, as long as we don't make a nuisance of ourselves. I should be arriving in Panama about the 15th.
5 April (028 41 S, 155 26 W)
The sea is a most royal blue as we approach the tropics. No sight of land or other ships now since Auckland. The crew are not friendly. The boat is luxury. We are greasing and cleaning turnbolts. I spend a couple of hours a day on Spanish. I read a different book each day and write a letter. I play cribbage, backgammon and scrabble with the other work-away. Two weeks of this will be quite fun.
It is getting warmer and more humid. I do not look forward to the heat of the tropics. Travelling will be quite a hardship after the luxury of the ship. I do not think I shall travel as rough as I did in Asia.
I very much wish to visit the Galapagos Islands but I think it will be difficult.
Columbus Line run regular ships to South America from Hamburg. I may well be tempted to come home like this rather than tramping north to the States and Canada before coming home.
So the travelling is begun again, and I'm travelling rough and hard. Four days in Panama City/Colon. We had an incredible trip from Panama to Columbia on tiny open deck cargo boats that disappear in every wave. From beautiful island to beautiful island - white sand and coconut palms, hundreds of them scattered down the coast. Some of them are inhabited by beautiful Indians wearing colourful costumes. The girls have rings through their noses.
I'm now in Columbia, but am rushing out of the place because there's so much thieving. I have had my wallet snatched from in front of my eyes. I've been pickpocketed; my shoulder bag has been knifed open, and I was the subject of an attempted assault!. I lost a hundred dollars or so, but nothing else so far. There is a constant feeling of paranoia here, especially in the evening.
Paul K Lyons
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