Throughout the journey I was dogged by a single burning question, one I feel we all have a moral duty to try and answer for the sake of future generations: How do you live your life so you’re part of the solution to a sustainable future, not part of the problem?
May 1, 2016. To the Brink, the last instalment of the Expedition 360 circumnavigation trilogy, is finally available. You can follow this link to place an order wherever you are (including signed copies) or search online referencing ISBN 0984915524. For those of you in the US, Amazon.com is the cheapest option with an impressive 40% discount (which is actually good for us). Ebook formats will be out in a week.
Now to the future! Today we announce an exciting new expedition project…
7 expeditions to 7 communities to explore 7 principles for a sustainable future.
More at microearths.com
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All Rights Reserved – © 2016 Jason Lewis
I’m sure you all thought I’d either died or given up trying to finish The Expedition story.
A year ago it was finished – or so I thought. I remember taking one last look at the manuscript before sending it off and realizing it needed another pass. Twelve months on, I have a physical copy in my hand.
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, this excerpt is for you.
“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
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!”
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?”
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
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.
Still barking at the phone, the major took the passport and placed it with the other. How would I explain this? Continue reading
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?”
“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
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.
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.
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. 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.”