Tuesday 04th August 2015 –
It’s almost time. There are less than two weeks to go until I set off on a trip that I can only assume I will come back from. I mean, I can hope to, but I’m not going to get much of an option. My fate has been decided, or at least was decided when I decided that South America was my final decision. That’s right. It’s all very morbid, but as everybody has assured me, I will most definitely be forced to carry drugs over borders, be used and abused in a Spanish speaking prison and have my face plastered all over the news upon the international discovery of my demise. This is the life I surely must know I have determined for myself. This is the life I have spent the past two years saving for.
For a long time it’s all I’ve wanted to do. Pretty much just have a wander and see what places are like. More adventuring than travelling I’d describe it as, but then what’s travel without the adventure to go with it? If you’re not getting lost then you’re not seeing enough. When my childhood dreams of being an astronaut were ruined by the realisation that I was not smart enough (and that the rest of physics is mind numbingly tedious) it at least narrowed down the spectrum to “only this planet”. Unfortunately, funding issues have meant that I have had to scale down some of the (some have said silly) ambitions for now.
So, that is where I was for a considerable time; pondering which bits of the world to cut out of my trip. As everybody says, this could be the only one I could ever get to go on! I’ll have to get on with my life afterward and get a real job. I cut out the possibility of an awesome overland trip through Europe and into Asia, mostly on the basis that the (indispensable) Scandinavian portion would be so expensive. I also cut out the possibility of a trip through South East Asia on account of my inner idiot, which decided I couldn’t go there for a first trip as that’s where everybody goes. It wanted to be different. It obviously did not account for my level of ineptitude before making that decision.
The lightbulb popped when I happened across an article on the Darien Gap, the jungle area in Panama separating South America with Central America. Supposedly impassable on foot (unless you’re in with the drug gangs or just really, really daring/stupid) the only way of making it past is by flying over or sailing around. The thought of the danger and unknown wilderness seduced my impressively gullible brain and the ruling was made. South and Central America it was.
The result of this became a sprawling loop of an itinerary stretching from Guyana in the north, down to the most southerly portions of Argentina and Chile, back up the west coast to Colombia and through to Mexico and, perhaps, the US. Ambitious though it may be, I have designated approximately a year to undertake the journey, give or take a bit depending on how far the budget stretches, which hopefully should get me most of the way. Serious side-tracking, however, has not been accounted for so it may well end up that the journey completely changes during the course. Let’s hope that it doesn’t change in the morbid way suggested above.
Admittedly there is an inherent possibility of danger, at least more so than sunny Britain. But that’s the adventure, the thrill, right? The status quo present back in the old world will no longer be; a new world will be born with a different set of circumstances. After the anticipated forty-two hour journey from leaving my home to arriving at Cheddi Jagan airport in Guyana I could find myself face to face with many of the original inhabitants and cast as an otherworldly deity amongst a society that has been rarely been seen by the outer world. Alternatively, and some may say more likely, I could find that I’m not part of a 16th century explorer’s account and that my appearance only marks another foreign idiot who has arrived to gawp at everything like a fish at feeding time. Maybe it’ll be something else entirely. Predict at your peril.