Travel: Yeee-hah - so long Buenos Aires, howdy Bucharest

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The Independent Travel
Sam Hutt has two incarnations - by day he is a gynaecologist, by night the maudlin country and western singer Hank Wangford. One of his greatest achievements is securing a temporary passport in the name of Hank Wangford. He and his band were due to play in Switzerland, but he'd forgotten his passport. Somebody at the passport office said: "Oh, you're Hank Wangford, aren't you?" and promptly issued a passport for his alter ego.

The stamps in his permanent passport bear testimony to his double life. Since 1990 he has been travelling to Romania to organise contraceptive and well woman clinics. Under Ceausescu, contraception was illegal and state doctors examined women internally at their place of work, to check they were not wearing contraceptive devices. Hutt tells of doctors performing abortions without anaesthetic, while chatting to their chums and smoking cigarettes; and how a 32-year-old woman who has had seven children and 25 abortions is not unusual. His work in Romania relies heavily on donations, but he has managed 18 visits in six years. Stamps dated 1992 show that Hutt made trips to South America and Mexico, for a radio programme about cowboys. He retraced his steps in 1994 to write a book called Lost Cowboys - From Patagonia to the Alamo. His stamp for Mexico brings back memories. In South America he acquired a taste for the green tea called mate which is sipped from a gourd through a tube.

He liked the drink so much he equipped himself with a gourd and seven kilos of mate herb. The gourd looked suspiciously like a dope-smoking device and a customs officer in Mexico took one look at the little packets of green herb and said: "Marijuana". "It's tea," said Hutt. "You think I'm stupid? It's marijuana," insisted the officer. "How stupid do you think I am?" replied Hutt, "do you think I'm going to smuggle marijuana into Mexico?" With that, the customs officer let him go.

Hutt's stamp of Argentina puts him in mind of another tangle with the law. He was stopped in Buenos Aires by two cops on Harley-Davidsons wearing mirror shades and riding boots with gold spurs. His crime? Going the right way round a roundabout and stopping at a red light. His punishment? The confiscation of his passport for two weeks. "But," cried Hutt, "I am leaving tomorrow!" "I am sure there's a way we can 'regulate' this," grinned one of the cops, scribbling the words 'thirty dollars' on a piece of paper. After Hutt gave them the money, the pair handed back his passport and raced off, spurs shining in the sun. Hutt's experiences haven't put him off though. He is hoping to retrace his steps to make a film.



Place of Birth WELWYN

Date of Birth 15 NOVEMBER 1940

Place of Issue GLASGOW