As I write this post, I am seated, quite comfortably I might add, in the VIP lounge of LAN Chile at Santiago International Airport. I would like to tell you that they heard of Nathe’s and my exploits and have bumped me up to first class for the trip home. But if I did tell you that I would be lying. You pay $30 US (we were here 6 months ago and paid just $20!) and you get to hang in this sweet lounge. Seeing as I have or had a 22 hour wait here it is money well spent. I can use Wi-fi, there is awesome showers, lounges, tv, other computers, heaps of food, drink and a well stocked bar. I even think I may make myself something of the alcoholic variety, but I will wait until midday.
First things first. While we appreciate any and to be frank all publicity we can garner for the expedition, the one thing that really kills us is inaccurate reporting. More than once, in articles about the expedition, the Amazon River has been referred to as the second longest river in the world! Journalists, have taken the decision into their own hands to brand the river so. This is wildly inaccurate and careless investigation. Please read the following from Wiki. These are the facts Jack!
“While debate as to whether the Amazon or the Nile is the world’s longest river has gone on for many years, the historic (yeh like, um, the Bible! – added by me) consensus of geographic authorities has been to regard the Amazon as the second longest river in the world, with the Nile being the longest. However, the Amazon has been measured by different geographers as being anywhere between 6,259 kilometres (3,889 mi) and 6,800 kilometres (4,225 mi) long. The Nile River in Africa is reported to be anywhere from 5,499 kilometres (3,417 mi) to 6,690 kilometres (4,157 mi). The differences in these measurements often result from the use of different definitions.”
“A recent study by Brazilian scientists claims that the Amazon is actually longer than the Nile. Using Nevado Mismi, which was labeled by the National Geographic Society as the Amazon’s source back in 2001, these scientists have made new calculations of the Amazon’s length. They now estimate that the Amazon is 65 miles longer than the Nile, and Guido Gelli, director of science at the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), told the Brazilian TV network Globo in June 2007 that it could be considered as a fact that the Amazon was the longest river in the world. However, other geographers have had access to the same data since 2001, and a consensus has yet to emerge to support the claims of these Brazilian scientists.”
“Regardless of the actual length, the Amazon carries by far the greatest volume of any of Earth’s rivers.” OK?
Anyways, following on, I left Belem early Thursday morning and have made it to Chile. At 11pm this evening I shall make the flight to Auckland then onto Sydney. From Sydney I have a flight to Mackay, QLD, Australia arriving midday to make it just in time to surprise my grandma for her birthday. She will be well pleased. I hear she has become a bit of a celebrity at her retirement village thanks to her family connections to the expedition. Great to hear.
My last night in Belem was spent packing late and trying to extricate myself from that bloody beard which took several razors and some time. Funny looking oke staring back at me in the mirror now. He does not look quite so tough or mean, which just goes to show appearances mean nothing. Inside, this bloke is stronger in heart and spirit than he has ever been. I woke Nathe and we had a handshake and a quick hug and I was off. My mind was racing. This really was it. It’s over. The expedition is over. No more rowing, no more shifts, tides, headwinds, pain, swearing or river.
However, in saying that, since we reached that lighthouse it has been non-stop with emailing, phone calls, logistics etc. Nathe and I both at the point with trying to ship gear home where we just wanted it over. Because I am missioning to get home for my grandma’s birthday Nathe has been shouldered with the final sorting of the gear. Sorry bru! It’s packed, it’s ready to go. We must just agree on the price and off it goes. Enough already!
So back to Oz for me and back on the river for Nathe! Next week he will head back up the river we traveled downstream on for 5 months. He will be udertaking post expedition work, ensuring we have adequate footage & information on a lot of the deforestation areas. This means re-visiting some of the amazing places we stopped in but could not really appreciate or take in. Too numerous to mention and the people in these places amazing. All the way back to Peru visiting the many friends we made along the way. Nice, Mario, villagers. Unfortunately, Petronio will be away at the very time Nathe will make it to Lima, a real shame. In about a month, Nathe will head back for what I hope for him is a bit of rest!
On my final evening we celebrated our success in style. A roadside stall burger and a walk to McDonalds in the mall for a grande McSuper Shake. We sure know how to party. Crazy!
More and more the media are taking an interest, of a kind (see above), in our feat. Today the Courier Mail in Queensland will run an article in their outdoor section. The Sunshine Coast Daily (QLD) and my own local, the Coolum Advertiser are also running stories. More are on the way, thanks in no small part to the massive work done by Angela Hanley, expedition administration officer extraordinaire!
By far the most respected expedition website online, ExplorersWeb have also posted the first 2 in a 3 part series of interviews of the expedition. Awesome! Check them out.
I suppose the biggest news is that Monday, 3rd of March at 6.15am QLD time, 7.15am NSW time (Australia, of course) the expedition has a spot on Sunrise, Australia’s most popular morning show! Pretty stoked! Mel and Kochie will be firing off a few questions to me from Sydney, NSW while I am in the Channel 7 studios in Mackay, QLD. It’s a real bummer that Nathe cannot be there for the interview. Pure circumstance means Nathe is in Brasil and I am in Australia. Seven wants the exclusive and want it fast. What can you do? So it is with mixed feelings that we feel joy at this good fortune. Anyway, I just hope I can interrupt Kochie long enough to thank some of our sponsors and thank my mate for the journey we undertook together. Tune in! Can they bleep out swear words on live TV? (Kidding!!!)
Also, we will be interviewed on ABC radio (Brisbane) that same day. The interview will air on their Morning Show radio programme hosted by Spencer Howson. So again if you get the chance tune in!
I leave behind in Brasil a bloke who was already my mate. After our experiences together over the last 6 months we now have something much more than that. In the past, Nathe and I never caught up for drinks, to party, to watch the footy or anything like that. We climbed, we did adventure races, we paddled and for the past 4 years planned this expedition. But the bond we have was forged under the most extreme of conditions and that can never be broken. We won’t, in all likelihood, see each other so much over the next few years. Me in Europe, Nathe in Australia and Africa, but no matter, that unbreakable link will remain for our lifetimes. I want to thank Welchy for being alongside me for the whole of the expedition. When I did it tough in the whitewater, he promised he would be right beside me every step of the way to the ocean. He was true to his word. We made it to that lighthouse and there we were, side by side. Cheers Nathe, you unstoppable, stubborn, determined SOB!
Oh, I fly into Mackay, Australia at 12.05pm, Sunday 2nd March and return to Brisbane at 6.10pm, Tuesday 4th March. Just for all those autograph hunters. I can picture it now, the hordes of people, the girls screaming. You know like when the Beatles came out to Australia! Wake up, you clown your dreaming again!