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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

8.9823792, -79.5198696

Wed 19. [19 January 1898] Up at 6, breakfasted and took an
affectionate leave of all the officers and the Captain. The latter like an
angel gave me his stylographic pen, I having lost mine. Our train left
at 8. Mr Sharman accompanied us to the station and saw us off. We
went first across endless marsh with here and there a village of
chinese and negro hovels - the first being Monkey Town, the
cemetary [sic]. Rank vegetation everywhere - Arums, eucharis,
bamboos, palms, bananas, breadfruit, masses of flowering trees, and
creepers swallowing everything. Papyrus and rushes in all the open
places. Occasionally a little hill all covered with vegetation. Passed
along the Canal - all along it in the line masses of machinery of all
sorts, some not even unpacked, left to rot. The country then became
a little less marshy and more hilly, though everywhere the same thick
vegetation. Mists hung in places over the marshes, they lifted and the
sun came out. Heaps of tiny places at all of which we stopped, huts
roofed with thatch or tin, mostly shops, what the people live on
Heaven knows - there is no cultivation and nothing edible but
bananas. Reached Panama at 10.45. Hotel Grand Central in the
Cathedral square, quite civilized. Very hot, lunched early and rested
a little. Our waiter speaks a little Italian and with that and English we
rub along. After ineffectual tea of chocolate and bread M [Maurice]
and I and Miss Pattinson drove out to the Boca, the mountain of the
Canal. Extraordinarily bad roads. Past the cemetary - the Chinese
cemetary apart. Charming views out over the bay with the little
wooded round topped islands, a mere continuation of the round
topped hills of the continent, peering out of it and the ships anchored
under them. A little work going on at the Boca. They have just built a
big new dock shed at great expense. Houses planted up one of the
little hills. Afterwards walked down onto the beach and picked up
shells. M and I then conversed with one of our fellow passengers of
the Para, Mr Hamilton, a commercial traveller. Very nasty dinner at 6.
Sat on the balcony and watched the palms and the Fleur de la Reine
in the Square lit up by the electric light and the two cathedral spires
which looked quite well. Early to bed. Very hot and stuffy.

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