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Dear Dave,

Just a note to say that I enjoyed reading the 'Imaginary Tale' in the last B.B.  Your anonymous writer copied the style in which I wrote the original pieces very well, I thought.

Might I also congratulate the artist who did the present B.B. cover?  I think that the bat is an interesting blend of old and new and the whole cover is probably the best ever.  A pity about the low definition of the photographic material but this is doubtless due to the printing process.

Cheers, Alfie


March 12th.

Buenos dias, Poco Rascals!

I'm just spending a couple of days around base camp on antibiotics as I’ve had a weeks worth of Martini arse (any time, any place, anywhere).  Its hell here, with the temperature in the 90's, not a cloud in the sky, bananas, oranges, papayas and pine apples brought into camp by nubile Nahuat Indian girls, and four different local brews for 12p a bottle!

The mountains around here are mostly planted with coffee and bananas, but judging by the reaction in one or two remote spots there may be some more lucrative but illicit crops! Anything that hasn't been cultivated is covered in thick jungle.  The sierra in the area rises up to over 3,000 metres but it looks like there is a realistic depth potential of about 1,500 metres.

The caving around here is superb!  Five weeks into the expedition we've found about fourteen kilometres of cave and well over 150 entrances.  We've only scratched the surface so far though - people are now beginning to understand why we are here and are going out of their way to show us the really big entrances.

Of the caves and shafts discovered so far there are a few that are particularly noteworthy.  Sotano Poco Mendip was an Alum Pot sized entrance in the heart of the jungle.  A superb 200 foot free hang landed on a ledge with a second, 300 foot free-hang in a big shaft.  This hole was pushed by Steve Milner and I, and closed down after a third, 40 foot pitch.

Meanwhile Rupert Skorupka, Tim Gould and Steve Thomas were pushing Sotano Hermanos Pelligrosa (Dangerous Brothers!)  This closed down after a 400 foot pitch, then a 600 foot pitch and a few short drops.

Some big resurgences have been pushed for a few kilometres and some large, well decorated fossil cave has been found.  Steve M., Slug, Big Nose, Noddy, Pat the Canadian Bug man and I pushed Sotano Xochiotepec for 2 - 3 kilometres of really good, sporting cave including an impressively large, well decorated fossil passage called Bertie's Promenade!

We've done a lot of reconnaissance and have a great number of really good leads to go at.  Yesterday Mongo descended to the end of a 600 foot rope and dropped a stone which descended for a further five seconds!! The shaft, now named EI Sotano, The Shed Spreader, looks like it should be about a thousand feet deep.

One cave around here has been particularly aptly named ­Cueva de Wessex.  This is small, insignificant, wet, smelly, full of shit, noisy and doesn't go anywhere!

This 'British Expedition' now has two cavers from Vancouver, one American, two Dutch, ( Lawrence 'It's all happening guys' Smetz and Wim Hoody-Hoody-Hoo), two Belgians (the Belches!) a couple of Mexicans and a couple of extraordinary characters from a place called 'Unterslodge.  Nobody can understand them but we think their names are InthatrightDarn and I-fu .. ingspect!

The latest thing in Base Camp is expedition regulation haircuts, but as usual Mongo has gone over the top and had his head shaved - he's the spitting image of Buster Blood-Vessel!!  Bob and Darn have just got back from a remote jungle village where 'ze Englishman who cannot ski' is the talk of the town and we've just received a postcard from Blitz in China.

Ignore anything anyone else tells you ... THIS is the best place in the World!!

Cheers  Gonzo

P.S. Big Jane sends her love to Zot.

P.P.S. One of us has got to go on Wogan when we get back!