Wednesday, 7 April 2010

No.273 Of Epic Journeys & Epic Memories

Its' "Oh yes it is. Oh no it isn't time again". According to the radio this morning a fruit and veg heavy diet does not actually reduce your risk of cancer. But they didn't say what does. Chocolate?

The radio programme also asked can you remember where you were exactly 20 years ago? As it turns out I can because twenty years ago exactly today I was at a human rights conference in Caracas, Venezuela. It was there that I met a fellow aspiring do-gooder of a student lawyer called Oswaldo who was a local and like me then out to change the world. At the end of the conference after just a few days knowing him I asked Oswaldo what plans he had for the following week. When he replied "Nada" in my broken Spanish I suggested that we go travelling. "Loco hombre" was his reply. But the next day we were on a plane to Quito in Ecuador with a plan to take a series of buses through Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela right back to his front door.

What followed was what turned out to be an epic journey over many days on many campesino buses shared with locals in their ponchos carrying their poultry to market. Buses that wound their way round narrow mountain passes sometimes slowly sometimes, when in bandit country, at breakneck speed.

I don't remember getting much sleep during these days. It was very hot and every B&B we stopped at seemed to be within vicinity of the local town square which always seemed to have a game of bingo going on. It was like we were following the "Bingo route" of Latin America. Every night we would lie awake listening to a distant voice shout "Doce, vingt-uno, ocho". It drove us loco.

The journey was an amazing cocktail of experiences. We laughed, we fought, we talked, we played, we drank with the locals and we watched carefully as we toured three amazingly beautiful countries.

An epic journey indeed. But where are you now Oswaldo? And did you manage to change the world for the better? I hope so.

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