Surrounded by darkness, in a grass roofed house, deep in the rainforest cloaked heart of Papua New Guinea a thunderstorm raged, rain beating down upon the rickety structure which creaked and groaned with the wind that whipped around it. Louis lay next to me unconscious, sweat soaked and pale, consumed by a jungle fever that had took a hold that morning. Earlier the village elder had sent the tribes sorceress to “heal brother Louis” and I stood helplessly watching, as my shirtless friend was doused in liquid from a steaming cauldron by a small woman muttering strange incantations, as the smoke swirled ominously around the tattoos that covered her face.
Deafening thunder shook Louis awake, the dark cobwebbed shelter briefly illuminated by the lightning. Staring wide eyed around at the haunting setting, quiet giggles and whispers seeped spookily through the thin bamboo walls. Another flash of lightning, and, sure enough through the gaps in the wooden structure multitudes of eyes gleamed, the occupants of the village were stood in the storm spying on the white interlopers that had stumbled upon their home.
Reaching under his pillow Louis subtly slid his machete so it was by his hand, unsheathing it from its canvas scabbard in the process. Glancing up at me he said
“What the f**k have we got ourselves into this time mate?”
It’s a question we have asked ourselves numerous occasions on our journey, and now 5 months since that faithful night, we stand on the eve of our third island crossing, curious what adventures lie ahead.
Tonight, we will fly to Madagascar; the planets fourth largest island, one of the most biodiverse places anywhere on Earth, seeped in a rich history of pirates and kings. Any thoughts that this traverse would be easier than our previous crossings, soon disappeared once we started our planning. Vast deserts atop high altitude plateaus will make sourcing water a huge challenge once we have made our way through the densely jungled coastline. Armed gangs of cattle rustlers roam the interior engaging in a semi-guerrilla warfare with government forces, a third of the country are known as “zones rouges” red zones, lawless areas where the administration exerts no control whatsoever. As one of the poorest countries on Earth most of the population survives on less than one dollar a day, which in turn presents us with a wide array of challenges.
To top off the trials that await us, this year the plague has arrived early to the Red Isle. It has ripped through the capital already infecting and killing more people than any outbreak in recent years.
It is a genuine cause for concern for us and a situation we have been monitoring incredibly closely over the past few weeks. Outside of the capital, the risk from infection drops significantly, however travelling through the rural hinterlands of Madagascar will mean if infected extraction will be our only option. A comprehensive medical kit, along with bombproof contingency plans accompany us as we are leaving nothing to chance with the real dangers that await us.
We will endeavour to get our blogs and pics back as often as possible, please bear with us over the coming weeks as we may be days away from power re-supply at any one time.
Our expedition to date has been an incredible journey, both physically and spiritually. If you have been keeping up with the blogs, you will be aware of all the amazing and perilous situations we have experienced. It is a real privilege to be able to do what we do made even more special that we can use the platform that our challenge provides to raise money for two great charities.
Having witnessed the real human cost of serving our country, we have seen first-hand the incredible work organisations like Help for Heroes and The Royal Marines Charity do towards helping and rebuilding the lives of injured service personnel and their families. If you have been enjoying following our challenge, and are looking forward to see what misadventures await us please take a moment to look into the underlying causes behind what we are doing, and as always, if you’re feeling particularly generous….#Chuckusafiver!!