Off to Ecuador then. All of nearly 24 hours spend in transit, flying from South-Africa to Sao Paolo, Lima to Quito. Air travel is something I detest. It is impossible to keep busy all the time, especially on a really long flight. Always run out of things to do no matter how much stuff there is to distract me. Laptops, smartphones, kindles, actual books and magazines only work for that long. Maybe ADD is the problem, but who knows. I’m sure it isn’t just me. And lets be honest, in the cheap seats, no one can really sleep. I’m convinced it is why people drink whiskey with their breakfast on so many flights I’ve been on. It is not a drinking problem, but a boredom problem. As long as the pilot isn’t practising the same, I’m happy to leave people be.
No matter who you talk to, you always sit next to the traveller from hell. You know, the one who doesn’t stop talking or needs to move past you a million time in a flight to use the bath room. I always wonder if I’m also the passenger from hell for the person next to me. If there is something which I will be happy if AI take over, this would be it. Not the actual flying the plane, we already crossed that bridge in case you don’t know yet. But the actual process of checking in, dealing with language and just being human friendly place to be in. Not just from a passenger point of view, but the human factor and the ripple effect of things being delayed or lost in transit, mostly because of human error or theft, is just not things humans are build for. There has been very little “Uber” size disruption in the air travel industry if you think about it. With so many things at play when you travel, it is no wonder things get loss, delayed or stolen.
My entire race bag landed in what can only be described as the Bermuda triangle of air travel. I showed up, less than a day we departed to the over night site for the start of 4Deserts Ecuador, with little more than the jeans and t-shirt I was wearing on the flight and my laptop. In other words, ill prepared for running even around a city block, never mind a few hundred kilometres. Like showing up for war with less than a water pistol for protection.
It left me with a twenty hour window, in a strange country, to replace gear which took me months and multiple trips to various stores to build up in the first place. Just as a side note, if you hate shopping centres, good luck preparing for a multi day stage race. Was it not for the generous help of fellow competitors, this would have been an impossible bar to cross. I love the fact that culture in different events vary so much. People often refer to the 4Deserts family when they talk about the culture of the kind of individuals it attracts. Fiercely competitive individuals, yet completely happy to not just help fellow competitors out, but even happy to let their own goals go to assist a struggling competitor across the line. A strange mix to find in a single event’s competitors but one of the main reasons I believe people keep returning year after year. This is not the case in all sport events. There are hundreds of stories from competitors in various sport events going as far as sabotaging fellow competitors, moving route markers or even cause damage to equipment. Humans are fascinating creatures.
Now, every person who have done more than one of these events will tell you to travel with your bag and never let it out of your sight. But just as with the advice people give us, that money doesn’t buy happiness, we all like to find it out first hand, just to make sure it is in fact true. Well, let me be the next person to give you this advice, travel with your race bag as hand luggage, no matter what. The only silver lining in losing my bag, was the replacement bag, for still some unbelievable reason, actually weighed less than my original bag. Still don’t know how but I like to believe life has to give you some good with the bad. The balance isn’t always there, but life would be boring otherwise.
But alas, the more things change, the more they stay the same in the short term. Because, believe it or not, I’m once again writing a similar story to the one in my previous book, “The Road is not All Uphill”, when I failed to complete the 4Deserts Iceland event. I have only finished 17% of both these events. How small are the odds of that happening again? You cannot help but see the humour in it. But it made me ask a few questions. What if life is not about fear and failure, but just about experiences? That I just had a different experienced to what was planned. It isn’t good nor bad, just different.
The plan was to run 250 Kilometres in Ecuador, but what I experience was a rural dog who bit me and as a result, only experienced 48 Kilometres of the event. Apparently the risk of rabies should never be taken light. The medication also need to be injected over a series of day, and it is highly allergic to people who surround you. This is the two main reasons why the organisers, rightly so, withdrew me from the race and even suggested that I cannot continue even in an volunteering role, because the risk to my fellow competitors is just to great.
Why do we have to classify and label them as one or the other? Is it healthy to keep score in such a way? Is it possible to learn not to do that? As a kid, it wasn’t about failure and success, but rather about if it was fun to do or not. There was none of it, whether your lego model looked like it did on the box or not. As long as it look like what you had in mind, everything was good. The pleasure it gave was no better or less either way. It is however, a little difficult following this advice at the moment, with my entire backpack taking a holiday without me in a different country. I feel that it is the correct path to take, to find the fun in it instead of focusing if it is a success, but every now and again, human nature kicks in and I feel like I have failed at something, yet again. To the point where I make fun of the fact that it is a good thing I’m not an aircraft pilot given my bad luck record.
Want to know why people enter themselves for event like 4Deserts? It is to make you feel small in the grandeur of nature has a strange effect on your gratitude in life. It is only when you are reminded of how big and small things in life need each other to be complete, to put things in perspective, that you can have a balanced outlook on your life and the world which surrounds you.
I travelled all the way around the world, but couldn’t see that I was the one who needed to just ask for others help, for a flood of help from complete strangers. Yet for some reason I couldn’t have done the same with known individuals who were already offering up their assists without me even asking for it first in the past. I felt like people might think that I’m weak and small and have a diminished view about me if I showed weakness in accepting or asking their help. And it is as true in my professional life as in personal life. But if you think about it, it takes a bigger person to actually accept and admit that help is needed and welcome. It is the easiest way in the world to push people who want to see you succeed away. It is easier said than done. It is the key to many locks in life you are searching for. You don’t have them, they need to be provided to you by others.
I’m convinced that endurance events are the key to world peace. I’m amazed how quick people from different nationalities, sometimes even ones who are actively at war, become the best friends in the world if you let them share each others story, journey and experiences to complete a incomprehensible distance in some far off land. Maybe we can make an effort to send the world's politicians on a few endurance events before they are allowed to declare war in any country. To show the humanity in people and that the need to help others is a universal trait, no matter what your past holds or your culture is. Killing others just isn’t a natural part of the human DNA. Sure there are some shocking stories out there about the cruelty against others and even animals, but nature screws up DNA every now again. The good people do each day and the inspiring stories people assist others in living each day, far outstrip these in numbers and magnitude.
- By opening yourself up to receive help from others, complex and time consuming processes can be replicate and achieve in a fraction of the time it takes an individual to accomplish them.
- It is about the idea if something is fun or not, don’t classify it is as a failure or success. The story is just different to what expected, that is all.
- There is nothing small about asking help from others when a rainy day arrives, it is the quickest way to weather a storm.
- People have a built-in need to assist others in a time of need and will even endanger their own lives to help.
- Sometimes it is a blessing in disguise if things don’t make their way back to you.