Sunday, July 26, 2020


On 14 June 1962, aboard the Dutch freighter on which we were leaving Paraguay, I wrote the following in my diary while waiting for cargo to be loaded:

"So here we are now, on the way out of Paraguay, an epoch, an epic, something unique out of all the epochs of our lives. We go out by the river, as we came in, the beautiful wild indifferent river, its banks deserted, wild birds gliding, a feeling of frontier without the danger or the challenge. This is shy nature, not agressive, not opulent like Brazil, it is just there, lives its own life and leaves you alone, doesn’t try to seduce you or to join you or to give you anything at all. It would really be better in Paraguay to live somewhere quite isolated along this wild river coast with no village nearby, no hint of any improvements……What will Europe feel like now?"

We were at sea for over two months, the only passengers. Reg and I were lucky to have been granted passage by a friendly captain whose ship had been docked in AsunciĆ²n. He wasn’t supposed to accept passengers and the need for secrecy meant we had to board late at night from San Antonio, helped by friends who rowed us and our baggage to the ship. We said tearful farewells and climbed on board via rope ladder.

The ship was spicspan clean and we had our own spartan cabin. The food was simple - cabbage, potatoes, meat - and the crew were friendly. I spent my time drawing and writing and Reg would play the guitar for us to sing folk songs with the captain and crew. When the ship docked at ports along the way to load or unload cargo, we could get off and explore the surroundings. Both of us overcame a couple of bouts of sickness and eventually landed safely in Rotterdam, thence back into ‘civilization’ ...and Rome.

Dutch freighter on which we sailed from San Antonio, Paraguay to Rotterdam in 1962

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