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Is There a Hole in the Boat?: Tales of Travel in Panama without a Car Paperback – June 16, 2006
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DuFord introduces us to the people of Panama, and he does it hilariously and most perceptively. -- The Panama News, August 20 - September 2, 2006
From the Back Cover
Join Darrin DuFord as he hikes, bribes, and barters his way across Panama, a perennially overlooked filament of the tropics where DuFord encounters a startling richness of cultures between the nations two coastlines. Sitting down with everyone from scientists to town barflies, DuFord samples such local delicacies as fermented corn homebrew and slow-barbecued jungle rodent while, at every turn, taking the more vernacular--and much more enriching--options of transportation.
Whether jostling in the back of a pickup truck serving as the local bus or uncovering how the country is tackling its ecological quandaries, DuFord opens a window into the little-known day to day struggles and pleasures of the Panamanian people. Is There a Hole in the Boat? reveals a Panama that is not simply a place to watch bloated cruise ships edge along the walls of the Canal. Its a land where the machete can slash through just about anything--except the nations spirit.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
DuFord deliberately set out to travel Panama as the natives do. By land, he hikes, bribes and barters his way from place to place in colorfully painted buses, dilapidated taxis and pick ups. By river and sea he crams his American frame into dugouts made for natives half his size, forced to bail water from leaky boats. Other times, he experiences the unique flora and fauna on foot with native guides who take delight in pointing out poisonous snakes and spiders and rats as big as cats. DuFord meets all the biting wildlife you can imagine close up. For nourishment, he bravely eats and drinks whatever the natives offer, delicacies not found in the North American diet.
Except for the Canal Zone, most of Panama is a land without Western amenities. Potable running water is a luxury. Public transportation is a raucous adventure. Areas of clear cut rainforest deplete native food sources at an alarming rate. Still, Panama's people are hopeful and adaptable, cheerful, warm and welcoming. From native kings to sly guides to scientists, the stars of DuFord's travels are the people he meets along the way.
This author's writing style is personable, his book delightful. Readers will learn a lot about Panama and its people, and enjoy themselves immensely in the process.
The book is about the author's travel through Panama, and is filled with tales of politics, food, and day to day life in a tropical no man's land. Parts of the book made me laugh out loud, and there were times when the world around me seemed to disappear and I was there in Panama with the author, up to my knees in mud. Other times I found my mind wandering, completely uninterested in the story before me.
If you enjoy travel narratives, or are just interested in Panama, you should definitely check out this book. True, parts of it may have bored me, but just because it doesn't fall within my realm of interests doesn't mean you won't enjoy it. This book is full of information and description; those of you interested in Panama will LOVE it. The author also includes a pretty extensive bibliography at the end, for further reading pleasure.
He drinks a lemongrass tea, quenches his thirst with sea grapes and samples exotic fruit shakes. The villagers' love of music gives him opportunity to exchange his band's CD for a boat ride and he learns how to barter and survive through creative means. The stories of fishing tilapia made me hungry as he describes everything from the boat ride to the final preparation and delicious feast.
Many of the most intriguing stories include details of the lives of the villagers and how they survive, even in places where they must find creative means to obtain water. A journey to find a fresh palm heart from a tree becomes as much an adventure as stories of medicine men, ancient curses, celebrations and trips to a famous hermit's beach hideout. Villagers must travel to the city to check their email and they seem to face their life challenges with a sense of humor and patience.
Darrin DuFord's powers of description glow with a precision that creates flashes of images in the mind's eye making this as visually stunning and creatively intoxicating. As an extremely talented travel writer, his articles have also appeared in The Panama News and Transitions Abroad. His latest recipes and articles can also be found on his website "Omnivorous Traveler." I can highly recommend this to you if you enjoy culinary adventures and vivid descriptions of exotic locales.
~The Rebecca Review
Darrin DuFord tells of traveling through Panama using the same transportation as the local people. He travels by foot, bus, and in the back of pick-up trucks across miles of paved and unpaved roads. In his travels he immerses himself, and the reader, in the multiple cultures to be found in Panama, some of which remain indigenous. Sampling the many foods and drinks of the cultures while observing everyday life and participating in some traditional celebrations, the author shows that there is much more to Panama than the Panama Canal. Along the way, the author also touches on some of the issues facing the Panamanian people, such as the destruction of the jungle and the declining iguana and lobster populations.
Mr. DuFord has a style of writing that brings the landscape to life and makes even the most questionable meal, such as bush rat, sounds delicious. He makes you feel as if you are experiencing Panama along with him and gives you enough of a taste of a lesser-known Panama to make you want more. The reader will enjoy his descriptions of riding on the Panamanian public buses as much as when he meets the King of the Naso people or when he visits a hermit who lives alone on island. You will appreciate the ease of traveling in the United States, traffic, potholes and all, once you read the entertaining descriptions of the his trips across the country, yet, at the same time, you will find yourself wanting to take those same journeys in order to get to know the real Panama.
Mr. DuFord gives the reader a glimpse into Panama and the people who call it home. If you are interested in travel or other cultures, add "Is There a Hole in the Boat?" to your reading list. You will not be disappointed.
Received book free of charge.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Is There a Hole in the Boat? is the authors account of traveling through Panama using the same transportation methods that are used by the locals. Read morePublished on April 30, 2007 by Terry South
Is There a Hole in the Boat? is a book of travel stories about the author's visits to Panama. This is not a standard "go here and see this" style of travel book. Read morePublished on February 9, 2007 by Armchair Interviews