Martin Mitchinson, The Darien Gap

Martin Mitchinson, The Darien Gap

Have you ever thought about driving from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego? Of course you have. Who hasn’t? But there is a slight problem when you reach Darien, the southernmost province of Panama; the highway stops 60 miles short of Columbia. The Darien Gap is the break in a highway that should be uninterrupted, but […]

Have you ever thought about driving from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego? Of course you have. Who hasn’t? But there is a slight problem when you reach Darien, the southernmost province of Panama; the highway stops 60 miles short of Columbia.

The Darien Gap is the break in a highway that should be uninterrupted, but is nowhere close to being filled in. Darien has found itself the focus of pirates, explorers and colonizers since the early 1500s but development has, for the most part, passed this part of the world by. It has often been referred to a backwater region populated primarily by Colombia guerillas, but Martin Mitchinson has set out to dissuade this theory.

Originally from Saskatoon, Mitchinson made his way south to explore the path of Balboa and, with the help of two Kuna guides, cross the continental divide. It is obvious from the writing that he has put the time in to understand the region. In addition to the description of his own travels, he brings the history of the region into play and makes the whole experience not only an enjoyable read but a humorous one, too. But the humor in the book comes not from him making fun of Darien but from Michinson poking fun at himself. It is this attitude that makes this book such a good read.