Saturday, 18 June 2011

And so, home.

Before I went on the HotRock trip somebody asked me if I was nervous about going on such an undertaking with a bunch of strangers, to which question I replied, no of course not. They will, I said, be all of a kind -  anyone who signs up to live on a truck for months, travelling about unwashed, unkempt and under-fed through remote and potentially dangerous terrain, climbing in remote areas, and capable of putting up with the others in the close confines of the truck will be a decent sort. How wrong I was. They were (and, assuming the truck hasn't come off the road above some Peruvian ravine, still are) the most excellent sorts, now good friends, with whom it was a great privilege to share the journey.

Some were on the truck for ever, some only for a few weeks. Some enjoyed a light ale or two (or in some cases, twenty two), some were teetotal (we forgave them this - just). Some were proper climbers, some (like me) bumblies. Some (in fact most) were from Britain, some ( a few) were not (some were Australian, unfortunately, but we forgave them this - just). Some were loud (they know who they are), some (but not that many) were quiet. Some were in pairs (either arrived as such or formed during the trip), some single. Some took every opportunity to wash, some simply revelled in the grime and squalor. Some were tidy and organised, some had all their stuff put in the Shit Box. Some shared their biscuits, some simply ate those of others. But all added something to the group, to the atmosphere (in a number of ways, some of these - courtesy of the lentils - unfortunate), to the expedition, and to my time on the truck. And I am pleased to have met them all.

At one point, I think it was at Serra do CipĆ³ in Brazil, there was on the truck a slightly drunken late night discussion (Hot Rock late night that is, about half nine) about how the Hot Rock experience might change those who go on it, especially those on the truck for a long time. Confidently I asserted that, being an old git, it was unlikely to change me - but I now suspect I was wrong. I suspect also that it is too soon for me to identify any way in which I might have changed, and that (if I have) others will notice it first before I do. I hope any such changes will be for the better.

There are some things that I either took with me or acquired over there but which have been left behind, and similarly there are some things I have brought back with me. These things are listed below, in no particular order of importance.

Things I left behind

- A cheap pair of approach shoes, Karrimor by brand, bought from TK Max, that fell apart after only 10 days.
- A tent, bought from Go Outdoors, that fell apart after about 50 days.
- My then-new headtorch that was lost after 5 days.
- Most of my enormous First Aid kit, the most useful items of which were the Imodium and rehydration sachets.
- An ancient and uncomfortable Karrimat sleeping mat, taken because of the advice from Duncan that Thermorests are rubbish as they are bound to get punctured.
- My best wishes to all still on the truck for the remainder of their respective journeys.
- A very smelly pair of fancy Brazilian trainers I bought by mistake in Rio de Janeiro.
- 'The Moonstone' by Wilkie Collins. I noticed that nobody else wanted to read it. They were all reading that Stig Larsen nonsense.
- Most of my clothes, donated to Simon and Owen.
- Two camaras, both Sony, one destroyed by mistake, the other pink, broken and shit.
- The oldest piece of outdoor gear I owned, a yellow plastic bowl I bought at college in 1987.
- My single rope, ruined.

- 5.5 kg in weight
- some underwear...

- Some fancy souvenirs, including Rio beach tighty whities and the object of desire.
- A re-affirmed view that for most things in life, less is more.
- A new and very pricey pair of walking boots to replace the crap Karrimors.
- A new and very pricey Thermorest to replace the crap Karrimor sleeping mat,
bought because of the advice from Duncan that Thermorests are rubbish as they are bound to get damaged.

- A small patch that repaired the Thermorest puncture. So Dunc was right after all. But also wrong, as I slept so much better after I bought it, and they can be repaired.
- A sufficiently strong dislike of lentils to make me chuck those I had in my cupboard in the bin.
- A determination to remain (relatively) thin.
- A determination to return to South America to explore those areas I have not yet visited - Equador, Colombia, Paraguay, Venezuela.
- A great respect for the people of South America, who (generally) live lives more difficult than ours with, generally, greater openness and generosity than we have in the West.

- A desire to learn to surf.
- Many new friendships, some of which will, perforce, only be transitory but some of which will, I hope, be enduring.
- A nice new little Panasonic Lumix camera with which I am very pleased.
- A little in excess of 25,000 photographs.
- Having enjoyed writing this blog very much, both a re-awakened pleasure in writing and a desire to carry on doing so.
-An embryonic short story, which may or not get finished.
- A somewhat hairier appearance
- An absence of syphillis (what the hell is this all about, I hear you cry).
- Gratitude to Roger, Simon and Andy for having run the trip so well - we always got there!
- A big credit card bill.
- An intention to purge the Facebook Friends list, an activity that has now been carried out.

And so it is now time to bring this blog to a close. Thank you for reading it, I hope it was an enjoyable experience. I certainly enjoyed writing it. Genuinely, if you have any feedback (good or bad) on its quality, please let me know. Now, off to plan the next adventure...

Hair, beard and poncho
Things I brought back.


  1. Didn't I see you playing pan pipes outside the shopping centre today!

  2. Oi Mr Hairy

    .... purge your facebook friends list, why am I not on the list waiting to be be purged huh?

    Great to have you back and can't wait to see you in a few weeks!!!!