The Longest Walk

29 01 2009

The Longest Walk –

The Record of Our World’s First Crossing of the Entire Americas

Published by and Orders@Xlibris.com

My original title was An Odyssey of the Human Spirit; I felt that closer in keeping. The initial publisher, Dodd, Mead was the second oldest in America [199-years] when it went bankrupt.

‘The Long Walk.’ was the title of the classic book by a Polish Army officer who escaped from Siberia, so my story became ‘The Longest Walk.’ The journey has never been repeated. Nobody at the time (or since) could have imagined it being pulled off, never mind the penniless way of it, that was when I became a true wayfarer.

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I don’t know about you but as a youngest growing up in England’s Kent, I always dreamed to make a journey, even a great one. I think it had something to do with English history, which was all around, and so much of it seemed focused I far off lands.

So from 5-years-old on, and unknown to my chums, my mind was already in distant parts where dreams were.

First off I went to the ship ‘Worcester’ moored in the Thames and the last of such ‘wooded’ walled vessels afloat. One chop time I suddenly upped and climbed to the top of the tallest mainmast. No other kid of that period ever did that, I believe I was the last.

I spent a total of seven years at sea, first as a cadet and then as a mate. By the time I was 18 I had been around the world – both ways. I finished up as second mate aboard a tramp ship. But I found that it was not the Sea that I loved, no, it was the lands beyond.

So, this and my experiences up to that date propelled me to the bottom of the world, Tierra del Fuego, where I turned northwards and began what would become The Longest Walk. And as Guinness said “of all time.” How lucky I was!

It was my honour, and I did find the wonder, the goodness and the sheer craziness of Life!

Thank you for joining me.

Excerpt One – The North Argentine            

Learning of my immediate plans, they began lecturing me with the hauteur of those who pride themselves in successfully predicting the worst.

            “Oh, you think this is hot? This heat is nothing,” pronounced the husband. “In the desert to the north, it will be much worse for you––no shelter, nothing.”

            “Much, much hotter,” the wife gleefully added.

            “And there are those snakes, and out there are millions of deadly spiders,” the man continued.

            “They might kill you,” beamed his sour-faced wife.

            “Of course, then there’s El Zonda, the hot wind––it will burn you up.”

            “Just like a dead rat,” his echo obliged.

            “Don’t forget the Tucumán police,” Mr. Misery thoughtfully concluded, “they’ll shoot you for sure. They don’t ask questions up there, you know.”

            A good night’s sleep helped me put their dire warnings out of mind, and indeed, the next day, it was a relief to be moving again.

Excerpt Two – Bolivia

            An open door often signified a boliche (“shop”––really a hut), where I might find a few dusty bottles of sickly sweet soda, some cans of Peruvian anchovies, and perhaps an old Argentine meat tin. To one quickly passing by, an adobe hut could be a shop or just as possibly a pigsty or the town hall. You never could tell. Few outsiders ever get to these backwaters, and the sight of this strange traveler would bring the Indians to the door, adults as well as children, all staring out in silent mistrust. Bundled and ponchoed against the high-altitude cold, I would press on.

Excerpt three – Nicaragua

            During the long walk back to their house, night drew on, and with it wild drinking in a makeshift cantina on the tall, uncut grass in the center of the town. Curses flew through the air in my general direction; everyone who spotted me seemed to be in a belligerent mood. I kept my silence––one garbled Spanish phrase from me could have been turned knife-quick into a minor incident. It was with great relief that the nervous family and I managed, backs to the wall, to edge away from the throng and into their house.

NOTE 24 July 2009

If you are interested in this forgotten adventure then the book HE LONGEST WALK – The Record of our world’s First Crossing of the entire Americas is now available from Xlibris. Go through Amazon.com or call 888 795 4274

“In reflection, it was all a wonderful dream, and how lucky I was to survive it. It was where I fell in love with the Humanity, the glorious life experience itself, and our shockingly threatened planet and only home. You know we existlost in a truly huge void. Nearest earth like planet, what a hundred thousand million (human) lifetimes away.

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