If I were not an explorer, something else I’d like to be……
I sometimes wonder why I do what I do, but I just can’t imagine doing anything else! I can see the advantages of being a window cleaner or an engine driver, but I can’t see the levels of satisfaction or achievement topping those associated with exploration.
However….the highs need to be high in order to outweigh some of the terrifying lows and disappointments that come with this lifestyle; hence my beginning this post with something funny. This latest trip had been quite a roller coaster despite its simple enough plan, and I want to keep in mind that I still have my health, my friends, and I can still laugh after all I’ve been through and all I’ve seen.
I shall be interspersing the detailing of these exploits with excerpts from the journal I kept along the way; there were some dark times and I shall aim to be as honest and forthcoming as I possibly can……certainly beyond that at which I feel comfortable; I see no real point otherwise. I hope it is entertaining and informative and gives an insight into what it is that drives me and my kind.
As to a conclusion and a label of ‘success’……I shall perhaps leave that up to you.
I begin with a diary entry from the night before our morning drop:
Day 1 – 2.34 am – I have just awoken from a most troublesome dream; I was standing in an open field of rotten corn, I was wearing a pair of Bermuda shorts and a pastel pink dinner jacket, my feet were bare but remarkably clean considering the filth that surrounded me. My father approached me in a golf buggy; he was the passenger, and Joseph Kabila the Congolese President was driving. My father said but six words, ‘My son, let me live again,’ and handed me a bracelet made from chicken teeth. Joseph spun the wheel and they raced off the way they’d come, I tried to follow but found my progress blocked by the concierge of a posh hotel…..it seemed that my room had been melted down for the war effort.
I know not what this dream means, but it fills me with great foreboding regarding this trip; I was never under the impression that I owed my father anything, or that my work was dishonouring his memory in any way; we had parted on very good terms, and my consciousness at least was unaware of any friction between our ideologies. My heart is all of a flutter now. With three hours to go before our transportation arrives, I can’t see myself filling any of it with sleep.
7.13 am – We are already now running late since I slept through my alarm; if this is the way of things, I shall be a shell of a man before the day is out!
A bad start….or at least not a promising one; our four-man team was on the bus to the airport where we would be helicoptered in over ‘Harringtons’. We would meet our guide next door at the ‘Aslam Halal Butchers’. Our original plan to parachute in was changed at the last-minute to a simple-slide-down-a-rope-from-a-much-lower-altitude-therefore-reducing-the-risk-of-death-quite-significantly ploy, this was also affected by the fact that we were behind schedule….and that there were only three parachutes……
Mr Harrington was most kind and generous, both with his welcome and his produce; I was still stressing over the entire venture so was not hungry but nonetheless took the bounty of pies that was offered me. Things were now looking up; our goodwill mission previously had obviously gone down well and Mr Harrington assured us that the locals would be very accepting of our presence and would do all they could to help – I must stress that the real reason for our being there was not made clear to the local population for fear of reprisals and/or ‘nutter-bashing’; we had told them that we were [remember to insert weird thing here before publishing] – but things then turned again; Mr Harrington told us that our guide from the butchers had had to take his uncle Jamal to the hospital because he got a child’s foot stuck in his throat…..I’d like to say there was a mistranslation involved, but there was not…….Mr Harrington told us that we had no need for a guide, it was a simple enough route and should we get into any real trouble we were to phone ‘this number’ and ask to speak to ‘Bumpy Larry’ and quote the promotional code ‘Sucker 354’, then key in ‘468751’ and follow it up with a rendition of ‘Come All Ye Faithful’ (one verse would be ample, just so long as it was in the original Latin), he said don’t bother calling the rozzers as they wouldn’t bother picking their noses for a bunch of posh twats like us! I thanked him most graciously and we headed on our way.
True to form, two of the team had forgotten vital equipment, so we headed over the road to ‘The Travel Shop’ for supplies, only to find that they were actually a travel agents and stocked nothing of what we needed – I cursed our “intelligence” with a brevity and tone suited to the female company present, but once outside and on our way to ‘Shoe Zone’ – a recommendation by the travel agent ladies – I let fly with language of such depth of hatred and visceral turpitude that I verily scared myself!
9.15 pm – I mean what’s the fucking point in sending someone to do a fucking job when they’re a complete and utter fucking moron?! I don’t know that the fucker even fucking came here! What do I fucking pay him for?! You can see from across the fucking road that it’s a fucking travel agent, fucking twat! I mean what the fuck else are we going to fucking find that he hasn’t given us correct fucking information for?! I’ve a good fucking mind to cancel the fucking expedition, go round his fucking house and punch him in the fucking throat!
We spent the remainder of the day trying to cross Tooting High Street and attempting to explain to every member of ‘Shoe Zone’ staff what a crampon was; it seemed to me however that we’d struggle to explain what a bloody shoe was to most of them, so we gave up and went next door to TKMaxx…..TkMaxx…..TKMAXX……Tkmaxx……that place….you know the one…..we bought some bargain-priced, high-quality T-shirts in all the wrong sizes and then set up camp on their flat roof.
We were short of our intended first day destination of ‘Tooting Dental Care’ but at that point I wasn’t worried about our schedule; I was concerned for our sanity.