THE DIARIES OF PAUL K LYONS - 1976
In April 1976 I left New Zealand, and worked my passage on a container ship to Panama. From there I boat-hopped through the St Blas islands to Colombia. I travelled through Colombia, Ecuador (including the extraordinary Galapagos Islands), Bolivia and Peru. I was struck down with hepatitis (contracted in Panama) in Lima and stayed put for a month while I recovered. For the last three months of the year, I lived in Viña del Mar, Chile.
My experience of travelling in South America proved very different from that of my time in Asia, thanks, I’m sure to my life in Dunedin. Whereas for the most part I had travelled hard, alone in Asia, in South America I was rarely without companions, and life on the road was more light-hearted, fun. Also, I was slowing down, I wanted to become involved in the places I was visiting not just pass through them - hence my sojourn in Viña del Mar. Again, luck was with me. In one weekend, I chanced on a job (as in ‘Inspector’ at an English school), a cheap lodger’s room in a plush part of town, and a beautiful young student to fall in love with (whose family also happened to own a summer villa in a beautiful fishing/beach village not far along the coast).
I have no diary covering the last two months in New Zealand or the first three months in South America. This is because my bag (with diary) was stolen south of Lima, just when I’d shaken off the hepatitis and started travelling again. The only record I have of my travels during this period is in a few letters which, together, I’ve called Diary 2.5.
Diary 3 starts in July 1976 and finishes half way through December, when Diary 4 starts. For the first time, my diary jottings start to include short, fictional stories, usually based on something I’ve seen or noticed. It is as though I want, through my writing, to bring more depth to how I am experiencing people and places.
Paul K. Lyons (September 2007)