Tuesday 23rd October 2012 (Letter 4th December 1882)

GCC has to vaccinate himself against smallpox, and his time in Chiriquí draws closer to an end

DAVID, CHIRIQUI, PANAMA
Dec 4th 1882

My dear Mother,

I have only just received your letter of Sept. 30th; it had been much delayed on the way. I got the papers at the same time, just after I was vaccinated, and had to keep out of the sun. The foreigners got some lymph recently from Germany, and with this they have been vaccinating one another, smallpox is often bad in David, and worse in Panama. Shall again very soon have to leave all the friends I have made in Chiriquí and visit other places on the way to Panama etc. Directly after Christmas, shall, all being well, start for Tolé, Calobre and perhaps Veraguas, arriving perhaps in Panama in March. Mr. Salvin wishes me to travel widely this dry season, I may go all the way to Panama by land (it is very far, 300 miles) or return again to David, and thence by sailing vessel, the latter most likely.

It is now very hot and dry, I think the rains are all over at last; with the change of seasons, there is often a little sickness in these places. Leopoldo was down with fever the other day, and when he got well, I got a slight touch, but am all right again now.

I also got a letter from Mr. Salvin with yours; his letter was so long on the road that it came too late to follow out his instructions exactly. I have all my work cut out for the next three or four months, the return home will be in the spring, a little more than four years in all, about the time of Walker’s present commission in the Pacific. Shall try and spend Christmas with friends at Bugaba, though I ought to be travelling before, but as it is near, and it is not easy to start off on these trips in a moment, shall probably remain, and make a start directly afterwards. I wish I could send you a little of our warm weather, we could spare a little of it. I was almost baked today coming on horseback from Bugaba. I scarcely dare to venture to think how I shall like England again; even the towns in these countries I do not like as well as the country. I think the rains are at last at an end; we have not had any since the end of November and it may not rain again for three or four months; in Bugaba the second crop of maize will soon be ripe, everywhere they are making some small tobacco plantations (tobacco is worth about 6d a pound in Chiriquí, or at most 9d). In the woods, the rivers are all getting lower and lower, the River Piedra is quite low and easy to ford now, so different to what it was a fortnight ago.

We still see the Comet, about three months it has lasted, but not so bright as before when it was brilliant; I wonder whether you see it in England? The longer you remain in these places, the less you like leaving; I know I was quite sorry to leave Guatemala and it will be the same or worse when I leave Chiriquí. The coffee business seems likely to be a failure in Chiriquí, coffee having gone down so much in price, my old friend Ezequiel Gutierrez in Nance Bonito has gone off, unable to make it pay. Next Saturday one of the settlers in Bugabita is going to have a sort of party, I intend going if possible, the other day they had one but I could not go, it rained in torrents. I now have learned a good deal of Spanish and get on pretty well with the people, though I do not speak it fluently, still well enough to get on. It is getting late and I must close as I am off again to Bugaba tomorrow.

With best love to all,
I remain etc.

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