So….. it’s all happening. The idea of leaving Midlands and going away to explore the world has finally materialised. I have been so busy with my usual hectic life running in between Leicester and Loughborough, building a camper, fixing bikes, selling stuff, buying stuff, giving away stuff, working, climbing, writing papers and having occasional little life adventures that I didn’t even feel I left my job for good until I actually woke up after a rather comfy sleep on Boeing 878 Dreamliner heading off to Santiago de Chile. Have you ever felt that, as my friend Tomek put it, although referring to my particular attempts to fix a leaking radiator on my motorcycle, that life is like a Sisyphus’ job – you finish one task and another one pops up like a Leprechaun always giving us something more to do? It is so hard to break that pattern and for me, the only two choices were either to give up my research ambitions and to make my university work into a ‘normal’ teaching job with no after-hours or quit and focus on what I love doing – travel, climb, surf and write publications. I chose the latter and here I am: homeless, jobless and going to climb a 1000m big wall in Patagonia with people who, unlike me ‘boulder monkey’ can actually climb stuff that is high, splendid and breath-taking while I usually try to top some 5m tall pieces of rock scattered around some forest south of Paris. If I survive this experience I shall cycle from our climbing venue Cochamo in Chilean Patagonia through Argentina to Bolivia and Peru. We are now flying above the Andes or Cordilleras as they call them in Latin America. It is only a short while till I step on South American soil but I shall stay here for quite some time.
I am sorry I did not say good bye to all of my friends at the Climbing Station in Loughborough- among many: Ed ‘BetaMonkey’ and Joe O’Grady, Jana Alexandrova and the Leicester Uni Biology Team, Andy Harper, Matthieu and Ollie Leger, Emma Wiik and Michael Hoult, Tom Hall, Andy Emm, Ethan Walton, Bill and Alex Norton, and all of the Climbing Station crew. To my excuse, I barely made it to both of the planes last night – first time because I was stopped, questioned and checked by the police apparently for, quote, “loitering in motorcycle parking area at terminal 5 known for motorcycle thefts”, although I suspect they need to file reports once in a while to prove they’re doing something. It can’t be the dreads, can it? Or the fact that I had the keys to the bike, the chain, the boxes, a helmet and I actually got into the parking lot instead of trying to get get out of it. However, I am happy to know that my bike is safe and under protection of officer Malcolm Dunlop. Second time I had to run across the airport because two flights leave from Madrid to Santiago at exactly the same time and I happened to go to the wrong gate. I only found out minutes before the take off when I overheard an Israeli backpacker telling his newly acquainted friends that he had done exactly the same thing as I was about to do a minute later – run, fat boy, run!!. Happy go lucky. I’m just sat on the corridor with my bicycle next to me waiting for the other guys. It’s hot and sunny in here :)