Walking to Panama

It wasn’t until our eyes adjusted to the lack of light beneath the thick canopy of jungle that we saw the rifles leaning against the trunk of a palm tree.
“Hola, buenas dias,” we said walking across the clearing, making sure to maintain eye contact with the three men sitting on upturned buckets and not at their armoury.
‘Buenas,” they replied giving us the scantest of looks. Continue reading

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The Lazy Cat

They all looked like children and had been chatting animatedly for over half an hour. Two then upped and offed to the bathroom leaving a teenage girl with wispy brown hair sitting in the corner. A hummingbird hovered above her head as it probed the plastic feeder hanging from the gutter for sugar syrup. Continue reading

Love Letter to a Fellow Walker

We met walking. And by that I mean it was when we first really spent time doing something that we both loved to do. The summit of Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons, Wales in late summer of 2003 will always hold a very special place in our collective memories: it was where ‘We’ began. Continue reading

“Let’s go Someplace like Bolivia”

The Toyota Land Cruiser pulled up outside the Butch Cassidy Hostal. I stepped outside and stretched a body stiff from 5-hours bouncing along rough dirt tracks. My mouth, like the rest of me, had a fine coating of dust and I spat gritty saliva onto the road. Bolivia tasted of adobe. In 4-days we had driven over 1,100-kilometres through some of the strangest terrain imaginable. The altiplano in winter, the dry season, is a near-deserted vastness of unprecedented geological complexity stretched out beneath a deep blue sky. Continue reading

Tennis and Tension in the Sacred Valley

Sunday dawned deep blue and windless, a perfect combination. Closing the window and walking to the bathroom the aches from yesterday’s rapid ascent of Montana Machu Picchu – 1,850-feet in 50-minutes if you care to know – were experienced afresh. Today was therefore designated a rest day and also happened to be the final of the French Open taking place over 6,000-miles away and 6-hours ahead of us in Paris. Andy Murray would be taking on Novak Djokovic, a scenario that is currently the greatest rivalry in tennis. Murray would be playing to gain his third Grand Slam and a place amongst only ten players to have won three slams, whilst Djokovic would be playing to be the current holder of all four grand slams, a feat achieved only by a few other players in the entire history of tennis in the open era. It was also National election day in Peru. Setting my priorities accordingly we went in search of a television set that might happen to be capable of showing the tennis. Continue reading

Finding Shangrilala

I write from the ‘Valley of Longevity’ – marketing hype if ever there was. Truth be told most of the, supposedly, old timers round here in Vilcabamba, Ecuador cannot remember their exact date of birth with great accuracy and therefore claims that the climate, soil and way of life will put off the inevitable are a little stretched. Continue reading