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The real, true Sanford story: No one would ever believe it

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Lynn Hummel Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

I have inside sources. Here is the story of what really happened to S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford on his recent trip to Argentina. It didn't happen the way it has been reported to us and it didn't happen the way he confessed it.

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Gov. Sanford really did intend to go hiking all alone on the Appalachian Trail to get away from the pressures of his office for a few days.

He put on his hiking boots, his hiking shorts, his camouflage shirt and very carefully loaded his backpack with the things a hiker needs for a few days on the trail: powdered eggs, beef jerky, Vienna sausages, crackers, marshmallows and toilet paper.

The man was totally prepared. Up to the point of departure, everything was going fine.

To get a head start on his hiking trip, he needed to get on a plane. That's when the trouble started.

He ordered a ticket for "Appalachian," but a simple computer spelling error spit out a ticket for "Argentina," which the governor didn't notice.

Sanford decided to take a little nap during the flight and when he woke up and exited the plane, he was -- surprise! -- in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

He was bewildered. He did not hear a single word of English except "hey you." He shouted out "Does anybody here speak English?" No response. He repeated his plea several times.

Finally, an attractive Argentinean woman came forward. "I speak English," she said "can I help you?"

Sanford thought he had found the Good Samaritan. He explained that he was a poor hiker who had been misdirected by computer error and he had no credit card (who would carry a credit card on a hiking trip?) and he had only four days' supply of toilet paper, beef jerky, Vienna sausages and crackers.

He didn't mention that he was the governor of South Carolina. After all, he was trying to forget about his job.

The woman had the heart of Mother Teresa. Her name was Maria Belen Shapur. She was 43 years old, divorced, and she not only spoke English and Spanish, but Portuguese and Chinese as well. She thought this guy in hiking boots and shorts was an American homeless person.

Her Mother Teresa heart went out to him and she was determined to protect him from the harsh Argentine sun and the frightening din and chatter of foreign languages in Buenos Aires.

Ms. Shapur showed Sanford the warm hospitality reflecting the best of Argentina. She escorted him around the way we in America would escort a Boy Scout from Norway: she took him to museums, concerts, restaurants and to a barbeque where he tasted the favorite Argentine dish, asado con cuero (a whole steer roasted) with mate' (a tea) to drink. No alcohol was consumed.

She taught him a Spanish folk dance called the Argentine tango as well as the resbalosa, the zamacueca, the vidalita and the tristes.

And that was it. He slept in his sleeping bag on her living room floor. Nothing happened. No romance, no hanky panky. After four days she washed his dirty socks and put him on the plane for home.

I know what you're thinking. If that's what really happened (and didn't happen) why would a guy come home and confess that he'd left his wife and four sons at home on Father's Day and had an affair in Argentina?

The answer is that he thought nobody -- absolutely nobody -- would believe the Boy Scout, folk dancing, sleeping bag on the living room floor bit, so he might as well make up a story they would believe.

Besides, some of the good old boys in South Carolina might just decide that a governor who spent a "roamin' holiday' with an "Argentine Firecracker" (as the press called her) was some kind of man.

Now that you know, believe only the best about Gov. Sanford. Good scouts don't get condemned, they get merit badges.

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