Letter to a friend..

After being out of contact with a friend for a while he set me the task of telling him of the:

TOP 3……SCARIEST
TOP 3……MOST BEAUTIFUL
TOP 3……FUNNIEST

things that have happened on my recent venture. It took me a while so I attached a copy of my response below.

“I think i will begin with the most beautiful things, a beautiful beginning makes sense.
I feel somewhat obliged and proud to mention my beloved Bolivian girlfriend, Claudia, as number one on the beautiful list. Now those formalities are out of the way I can move on to the other beautiful things in my life. Of which there have been many. During the last 25000 km on the bike I have discovered what this adventure riding is all about. It took a while but I think I have it sussed, and will apply this theory to the planned route for the next half of the globe. It’s the times you find yourself leaning right then left then right again in a smooth motion, eyes focused on the inside of the corner and the bike just doing the work. This when added to either a wind along the side of an open body of water or crossing a mountain range that you think you have successfully crossed three times before another ridge presents itself. This is my current recipe for beauty, while I’m sure sunsets on coconut covered islands and even humans have displayed equally as beautiful delights ill leave it at that for now.

As for the funniest…
Claudia reminds me of my spear fishing experiences. Firstly on the Colombian coast off Taganga, I spent a good hour in the shallows taking shot after shot at the abundance of colourful fish swimming beneath me, blue yellow, green and grey. Again and again I reel the spear in with nothing attached, I was ready to give up but then my human brain began to analyse. I decided to paddle up the side of a rock cliff, rounding a corner, I see the first orange fish id seen in my not so extensive diving career. It swam quickly into a craves in the rocks and with that, my instinctive hunting skills kicked in.

I sat, perched at the entrance, spear gun pointed at the only foreseeable escape route for this rare and beautiful specimen. As expected it emerged, naive to what was waiting, there was the familiar shink! The spear was released… I got the little ganger in the gills!!
I decided then to bask in my manliness and present my catch to the other mere mortals in the vicinity, only to be shut down and criticised for shooting Nemo. Ooh shit.. Don’t tell little Poly I shot Nemo while he was on holiday in Colombia, I fear a toddler uprise.

My spear fishing abilities haven’t progressed, I was diving with some natives of the Panamanian coast in the San Blass. I was using an actual spear propelled by rubber you wrap over your hand. Another unsuccessful hour in the water, one of the local boys, I thought, was feeling sorry for me so he guided me down to an underwater overhanging, well beneath my normal dive limit. Struggling, as the fresh air became sparse in my lungs he points out a big fish with the demeanour of a clown hiding in the cave. Without a thought I send the spear hurtling into it. The reaction was far from what I expected, instantaneously I had a spiky balloon the size of a beach ball on the end of the spear. As I struggled back to the surface I had to swim past two of the native lads in a fit of bubbles, finding it hilarious at the expense of my pride, the puffer fish and the task I had ahead of getting the bloody thing off the spear.

Outside of the water it’s the little things, medium sized pig scampering across a busy road oblivious to the chaos it causing, birds pooing on unsuspecting victims asleep in a hammock or a tourists interpretation of what lies within the soup.. Priceless!

Oh yea… the three most scariest…

It’s difficult to explain the three most scariest, not because I’m super tough and scared of nothing! but it’s those frightfully frequent moments when you pop out from around a corner and “Senior Perucho�, driving his shit heap of a bus has never quite grasped the concept of his side of the road. Those moments are intense and riddled with fear. Its only through the mystical powers of luck that I can write to you today and remember the time the three of us took on the infamous “Death Road� in Bolivia. We were presented with a landslide that had fallen over the road earlier that day. What was left was a one foot gap between the rubble and a cliff edge that broke away to a valley, 1000 meters deep, containing the remnants of previously failed passing’s. Needless to say we balanced through the gap, pushing the memories of our previous falls to the back of the mind before throttling away to the road ahead.

Another more recent event was in the motorcycle powered boat, three weeks at sea and the machine was not as oiled as it used to be. We decided an hour from sunset to head out of the protected waters between a five meter gap between two reefs into the swell and towards an island on the horizon. When the first waves hit us it was fun, even exciting as we powered in our homemade vessel over the rolling hills. We got out past swimming distance before the chain sprung off, throwing anchor, it only just caught the bottom. My comrade Rolly fixed the chain, and now knowing the depth, I untied the anchor with the intention to attach another rope to add to its 50m length.

Back in gear we cruised along to the ringing sound of a very near motorbike, I battled at the helm to keep the boat straight. Each wave twisted the vessel (more akin to a bathtub) 90º from the target as it pivoted on the top of the wave. The intended island would only briefly be visible before it disappear as we plunged off the back of the wave before creating a wall of water as the nose of the boat hit the next water mountain to manoeuvre over.

Right on cue, another chain went, 2/3rds of the way to our destination and sanctuary from the seas. Like clockwork I threw the anchor overboard. As the rope whistled away I wondered if it was tied on but after seeing the new extension tied securely, I presumed I had completed this job earlier. How wrong I was, the tail of the rope slipped away, not offering a second to react. Announcing the loss of the anchor to the others was the hard bit, with no method to tie up, it was a game of chance. The unanswered MAYDAY radio call didn’t seem to calm the tension.

To Rolys credit, he got us going again and half an hour after the sun had disappeared, Claudia was huddled under a plastic sheet nursing the pet kitten and Roly was using his hands and a piece of metal to tension two of the chains at the back. I steered Audacia, (the boat) straight onto the nearest reef, risking a hole in the side and damaging the coral (sorry coral). Temporarily safe, we were then within wading distance to the palm tree covered island and our place of rest for that night.

There is only one thing that tops all of this, the scariest of scariest, continuing to haunt me as I progress on my destiny. Many travelers have shared in this fear before me, and many will fear this in the journeys to come. Two words, Bank Balance, I quiver as I write it.”