On the Road 1969 - Vancouver to Panama

Tica Bus,  Central America 1969

Some time late in 1968, I was struck by a sudden urge to travel and started thinking about making a trip to South America. Now all these years later I cannot remember exactly why I chose South America, perhaps it was because I heard that I had a distant Uncle in Argentina, or maybe it was just the thought of having to endure another Vancouver winter, however I do remember that a big part of the decision was made when I discovered that I could buy a Greyhound Bus ticket all the way to Panama for the amazingly cheap price of $135.

The trip to Panama was quite an adventure for my first time on the road especially as I only knew handful of words in Spanish, but I won't go into details about that here as this story starts with my meeting an English couple who joined the bus somewhere in Central America, They were also on their way to South America and just about the only other English speaking people on the Bus. I soon learned that they had previously lived in Brazil but were now residing in the New Hebrides and just traveling back to Brazil on Business.

Eventually we got around to talking about the Pacific about Tahiti and about how good life was in the Islands. Up till this point I had never even considered traveling to the South Seas, but I think intuitively I was broadly searching for some easy living in a sunny climate, and life in the Islands sounded more like what I was really looking for. So the discussion soon turned to some serious planning of how to get there. They told me about a boat which made the trip every few months from Panama, very inexpensive and stopping at Tahiti on the way to the New Hebrides. They said that if I ever made it down that way I was welcome to stay at their place in Port Villa.

It is strange how a chance meeting can sometimes change entirely ones life and destiny. We parted company in Panama and I went on to South America where things did not pan out so well for me. Then one day while wandering about in down town Lima I stumbled into a Shipping Agency and decided to inquire if they knew anything about cheap boats heading to Tahiti. As luck would have it they were agents for the very boat I had in mind and informed me that it was soon to be arriving in Panama! I immediately booked a third class ticket and caught the first plane back to Panama.

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