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Book Reviews

The Darin Gap

Travels in the Rainforest of Panama

The Pan-American Highway running between Alaska and Argentinas Tierra del Fuego is fairly uninterrupted but for a sixty-mile mire of fierce jungle in the Darién province of Panama. Replete with the usual suspects of snake croc and three tribes of violent natives complemented by hardened Colombian guerrillas on the lam it is not the sort of place anyone in their right mind would seek out. And Martin Mitchinson author of The Darién Gap: Travels in the Rainforest of Panama (Harbour Publishing 978-1-55017-421-2) readily admits his eighteen-month search for intrigue and exotica threatened his sanity. A travel writer and veteran traveler of Central and South America Mitchinson tells a riveting tale of life in one of the worlds most storied-from Spanish conquistadores to pirates-and remote regions. In the midst of a particularly grueling breakdown one night terrified by alligators and guerillas outside his tent he writes about his itinerant life: “I really want to go home. Ive felt that way for twenty years. I want a good nights sleep. I want a hot bath and a family Christmas. But I was hoping that I would sail home. I wanted to return someday from an epic journey. Not crying like a baby and helplessly weeping in the mud. Desperate for not writing. No well-told story. No lines of poetry. No art. No passion. No battle between good and evil with scenes so horrible that they mark me with a sadness that never fully leaves my eyes. I think every traveler wants a version of that. From there we believe with the wisdom that comes from hardship maybe well finally be able to work our way home again.”

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