Expedition Base Camp Darwin Style

Expedition base camps are usually unremarkable places dedicated to the utility of adventure. Not so the Dinah Beach Cruising Yacht Association in Darwin, Australia with it’s overabundance of rare and exotic characters. For those waiting patiently for book 3 to be published (August 15), this excerpt is for you.

Expedition 360 expedition base camp. Darwin, Australia

“How long have you been in Australia, Andy?”

Trimmed white beard, jug handle ears, and a gammy leg, the old Glaswegian had his shirt off, sporting a barrel stomach covered in a thick fleece of chest hair.

“Thirrrty-six years,” he replied happily.

“You’ve kept your accent well.”

“Och aye. Too tight even tae give that away!”

Belly shaking with laughter, he turned to climb the ladder to his single hull sailing boat, one of forty or so dilapidated vessels propped up on stilts in the Dinah Beach car park. Having been recently laid off and given the heave-ho by his wife of twenty-six years, Andy had split from Freemantle and made the club his home. Like Alcoholic Rodney in the catamaran opposite, he had absolutely no intention of going anywhere. Rent was cheap. The bar was within teetering distance, and sold the cheapest and coldest beer in town. It was the ideal retirement set-up. When I’d asked how much longer he thought it would be before his boat was ready to launch, Andy had pressed his whiskery face to mine, and hissed “Yearrrs!” with hearty optimism. Continue reading

Lake Nasser Arrest – Part 5

Concluding excerpt from To the Brink, published August of this year. Read part onetwothree, and four.

Of course, I wasn’t out of the woods yet. Entering Egypt illegally was still a serious enough offence to get me slung out of the country, but at least the paperwork miraculously catching up to me staved off the grim possibility of rotting away in an Egyptian cell. And with the arrival of the fax, Major Hassan was a changed man—perhaps because his own neck was also off the block. Gone was the icy demeanour. He began laughing and joking, asking me about my family, and telling me about his:

“Eef you come Cairo, ees my mobile number. You meet my wife and cheeldren!”

Felucca on River Nile. Continue reading

Lake Nasser Arrest – part 4

Part four of a five-part excerpt taken from To the Brink, the concluding volume of my circumnavigation trilogy, published August of this year. Read part one, two, and three.

It was time to come clean about my intent to cross the border illegally. I explained about the expedition, and my plan to kayak Lake Nasser at night. At the end of the confession, I motioned to the map case on the major’s desk, and said, “Can I show you something?”

UNESCO temple relocated to Abu Simbel

I pulled out a laminated letter and offered it to him. Glancing at the letterhead, Major Hassan grunted, “Ah, the UNESCO.” Written in 1994 by the then Director General, Frederico Mayor, the letter appealed for people, organizations, and governments to assist the expedition on its way around the world. This was my ace in the hole, the ultimate Get Out of Jail Free card. UNESCO had been instrumental in saving two temples built in thirteenth century BCE by Ramses II, relocating them stone by stone to Abu Simbel, before the Nile was flooded to form Lake Nasser.

“But dis name.” The major pointed to the first paragraph. “Pe-dal-for-the-Pla-net­­. Is not the name you say.”

This was true. I’d given name Expedition 360. “But I can explain,” I pleaded. “You see, we changed the name of the expedition in 1999—”

But the major wasn’t listening. He was back to yelling at his phones. Continue reading

Lake Nasser Arrest – part 3

Part three of a five-part excerpt taken from To the Brink, the concluding volume of my circumnavigation trilogy, published August of this year. Read part one and two.

A flunky I hadn’t seen before appeared, carrying a sheaf of paperwork and a mug of tea in a saucer. He placed them in front of the major, who was now speaking rapidly into a telephone, one of several that lined his desk. This is bad, I said to myself. The inventorying of equipment continued. Lists were made. Then yet more lists. The orderly going through my gear handed the major a burgundy booklet he’d found in my waterproof money belt. This was a back up passport, one free of Israeli stamps that would better my chances of getting into Syria.[1] Prisoners and Egyptian security forces

Still barking at the phone, the major took the passport and placed it with the other. How would I explain this? Continue reading

Lake Nasser Arrest – part 2

Part two of a five-part excerpt taken from To the Brink, the concluding volume of my circumnavigation trilogy, published August of this year. Click here for part one.

Major Hassan shook his head in disbelief. This idiot tourist had somehow strayed across the border, the border it was his job to prevent anyone from going anywhere near. He hammered on his keyboard and read from the screen, “How did you cross the border?”

Kayaking Lake Nasser from Wadi Halfa to Abu Simbel - adventurer Jason Lewis

“No one stopped me.” I replied truthfully, although I chose not to mention that I’d paddled at night. “But I am still confused”—I reached forward and showed him my map—“exactly where the border is.” Continue reading

Lake Nasser Arrest – part 1

The following is an account of my arrest and subsequent interrogation by Egyptian security forces after paddling a kayak illegally across Lake Nasser from Sudan in 2007. It is the first of a five-part excerpt taken from To the Brink, the concluding volume of my circumnavigation trilogy, published August of this year.

Map showing Lake Nasser route of Expedition 360

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Black Magic and Sea Snakes – part three

Third and concluding excerpt (read part one and two) from To the Brink, published April 2015:

Later that day, we paddled to the Muslim village of Pota. April and I recounted our experience to the village elders.

“Sihir!” one of them hissed. Witchcraft.

Black shaman, sea snakes and witchcraft were encountered by adventurer Jason Lewis and team on the Indonesian leg of Expedition 360

More than a hundred people were crowded around us, the faces of the women painted ghoulishly with the white paste Indonesians used for skin bleaching.[1] The atmosphere had been excitable as we set up camp: lots of laughter and whooping, and “Hello Meester! Hello Meesees!” When the elders arrived, the crowd regained its composure.

“Dukun santet,” said another elder. Black shaman. This was Haji, a smiling octogenarian in a blue shirt, purple lava-lava, and Peci, a black fez hat. “Indonesia beeple superstitious,” he continued. “You break promise in village? You make disrespect? They revenge with”—he nodded sagely and wagged a finger—dukun santet.

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Black Magic and Sea Snakes – part two

The second of a three-part excerpt (read part one here) from To the Brink, published early 2015, in which the Expedition 360 team encounter sea snakes and black magic on a remote island off the north coast of Flores, Indonesia:

A third snake suddenly appeared. I grabbed the video camera and began filming. “What is going on?” I said. Snakes gave me the same heebie-jeebies as spiders. “Why all these snakes?”

Sea snakes and black magic were encountered on an Indonesian island by adventurers Jason Lewis and April Abril

It didn’t make sense. At the first sight of a human, virtually every wild animal I’d ever come across had turned tail and scarpered, millennia of extermination rendering them wary of engaging Homo sapiens. So why were these snakes taking such an interest in us?

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Black Magic and Sea Snakes – part one

In August of 2005, April and I found ourselves camping on an idyllic islet off the north coast of Flores, Indonesia, during a 7-month kayaking expedition from East Timor to Singapore. An experience that first night on the island left us badly shaken, and our skepticism of black magic and blind acceptance of Western scientific thought both in doubt. This is the first of a three-part excerpt from my upcoming book, To the Brink (published April 1, 2015).

April of Expedition 360 lights a fire on an islet north of Flores, Indonesia, which turned out to be infested with sea snakes

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