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Spies, Crooks and Others Along the Way: Noonsite Book Of The Month

By doina — last modified Feb 10, 2006 11:50 AM

Published: 2006-02-10 11:50:26
Topics: Books,Charts and DVDs
Countries: Panama

To coincide with Panama being Port of the Month in February we have chosen as our Book of the Month "Spies, Crooks and Others Along the Way" by Sandra Snyder as much of this entertaining book takes place in Panama.

Sandra Snyder and her husband Dave Wilson have spent many years sailing their boat Aura along the coasts of North and Central America as well as throughout the Caribbean before settling down in Panama where they have lived for the last ten years. Very early in her book, Sandra points out that “This is not a book about sailing. It is a book about the people we met along the way.” And what strange characters they have met indeed! From a Texan murderer living on his boat in Panama to some amazingly incompetent sailors, not to speak of several spies (real or imagined), one of whom, worryingly, shared the name of this reviewer. Interspersed with hilarious descriptions of such weird characters are colourful vignettes of places visited and food eaten.

The author is convinced that her whole life has been marked by some amazing coincidences, of which a number are described in her book, such as meeting by chance the Mexican designer of her favourite set of postage stamps or coming across people that she had not seen for decades in the most unlikely places. The most incredible coincidence – if it can described as such – is the story of a stray cat that they picked up in a port and named Sailor and who turned out to be the reincarnation of the author’s mother. To add weight to this conviction, Sandra describes the various mannerisms that Sailor had in common with her deceased mother. All this sounds so convincing that anyone would be hard put not to believe it. This is probably due to the author’s direct style as one feels that she writes from the heart, and every experience is described with disarming candour. Besides her candour, Sandra also has a wicked sense of humour that allows her to get away with some sharp comments on the hypocrisy of missionaries, or the antics of some dumb blondes (her description) who should have never gone cruising. The descriptions are so vivid that they must come from the pages of a detailed diary. The result is a highly enjoyable memoir that sweeps you along on a romp of one incredible incident after another.

Many of the stories were picked up at the Pedro Miguel Boat Club in Panama, where Sandra and Dave spent a long time and had the opportunity to meet a whole array of interesting people who also lived on their boats in this delightful place which is now under threat to be closed down by the Panama Canal Authority.

The book is available at Borders Books in the USA, local book stores in Panama and can be ordered on line at Sandra Snyder is also the author of “Living in Panama”, an authoritative day-to-day guide to life in Panama. Available in bookstores in Panama or on line at:

Published by Tantoes 2005. ISBN 9962-02-849-3. Recommended price $15.95. Email [email protected]

Read more about Panama at Noonsite Ports Of The Month: Balboa and Colon, Panama