It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for Turning Left Around The World by David C Moore, published by Mirador Publishing on 24th/25th September. Although it’s not a term I’m particularly keen on, regular readers will know that at approaching 63 years of age I’m something of a “grey globetrotter” myself! This book is described as “an entertaining and informative travel book for those who have the health, wealth and ambition to explore the world in style”, and I’m just rather sorry I wasn’t able to fit in the reading.
For some people, retirement dreams can consist of comfy slippers and gardening. Not so David and Helene, whose dream was of adventure. They presented Audley Travel with the challenge of exploring the history, landscape, wildlife, people and food in fifteen countries over ten months.
Fortunately, they were up to the task so David and Helene traded their slippers and gardening gloves for 53 flights, 30 trains, 8 boats, 3 cruise ships, 1 light aircraft, I hot air balloon, a motorbike and sidecar, countless speedboats, taxis, tuk-tuks, cyclos and bicycles. And a disobedient horse.
Turning Left Around the World is an entertaining account of their adventure, often intriguing, frequently funny and occasionally tragic. Share their adventure, enjoy the surprises and meet some fascinating people along the way.
I’m delighted to share an extract:
Not so “intrepid explorers” at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, Peru
The flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado took thirty minutes, a further thirty minutes down the river by long tailed boat and we arrived to the clanging of the big brass welcome bell rung by a Ranger at Reserva Amazonica.
‘Is this what you expected the Amazon to be like?’ I asked Helene, who hadn’t spoken throughout the boat journey.
‘I don’t think I brought enough khaki with me. Do you think they have a shop?’
‘I doubt it,’ I responded quietly, ‘but you’re right everyone seems to be in jungle gear already.’
Our fellow explorers seemed to be better equipped than a safari gamekeeper; floppy hats with muslin netting, binoculars swinging from their necks and enough camouflage to keep Millets in business for another year.
‘Welcome to the jungle, welcome to Amazonica!’ our bell ringing Ranger announced.
It feels remote, it is remote, we didn’t have electricity throughout the whole of the day. Apart from no wifi and no mobile coverage which we haven’t experienced for many years, the generator has to have a little nap from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM and again from 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM so everything is lit by hundreds of silver oil lamps dotted around the thirty or so lodges after dusk, quite romantic Helene tells me. Of course, there are no phones in the lodges so instead they provide you with a whistle, if you need something like room service you just give a little whistle, or a loud blast if you’re in the farthest cheap seats I suppose.
One morning five of us set off for a kayak trip around the lagoon. Our guide was the unlikely named local Jim or as we renamed him Clumsy Jim, because he continually fell over on the trail when pointing at something in the canopy and very nearly capsized our kayak attempting to pluck some exotic low hanging fruit for us.
Two minutes into the lagoon expedition we were greeted by a huge Caiman. It slowly broke the surface as if stalking its prey, a long golden snout and eyes swivelling taking a good look at us less than a metre from our boat low in the water.
We then came across the most bizarre creature; think highly colourful exotic flying turkey with poorly applied blue eye shadow and you’re not far off the mark. There were literally hundreds of them around the lagoon providing its favourite food. They are the Hoatzin, known as the missing link between reptiles and bird, and surely look like they’ve crossed the time line between prehistoric times and the present day. They have multiple stomachs like a cow to process their food, make a loud grunting noise similar to a pig with a sore throat and don’t have any predators because they taste like cow dung. The locals know them as the stinky bird. Lovely things.
It was the Amazon Canopy Walk that we had most been looking forward to. Helene and I remember sitting in bed one Sunday morning months ago planning our trip and reading about this, both agreeing it was part of the jungle adventure we must do. Both encouraging each other to do something we would normally never take on.
The start of the Canopy Walk, as you may guess, goes up. Jim led us to a rickety old tower with ragged steps, what seemed like hundreds of them, disappearing into the overhead covering. They would take us up 35 metres to look down over the summit of the jungle, we didn’t look down until we reached the platform, and what a view.
It was only when Jim started to point out the route of the canopy walk connecting nine vast Capoc trees that we noticed the foot bridges. If the tower was rickety these looked positively ramshackle. Imagine the foot bridge on “I’m a Celebrity…” about fifty years after Ant and Dec have gone on to present weekday afternoon programmes for the bored, sick and elderly and that would be about right. This was not for the faint hearted.
‘Are we sure about this,’ said Helene, ‘it’s awfully high and those bridges look really unsafe.’
‘Remember our agreement Helene,’ I said, ‘this was something we promised we’d do.’
Clumsy Jim led the way, this should be entertaining, I thought. The footbridges could only cope with the weight of one person at a time so I went next to demonstrate to Helene how easy this was.
‘You see its fine!’ I called back in the most confident voice I could muster.
‘Why are your legs shaking then?’ she yelled back. This was no time for discussion.
The wooden planks less than a metre wide bounced and rebounded with every step, where they weren’t broken or missing. The netting, doing its best to create sides, was frayed and full of holes, and the balustrade ropes to hang on to were slippery and unstable. Frankly, the whole thing felt perilous and precarious but we both made it and the next one was easier. After a few crossings between Capocs we were enjoying our jungle journey so were stopping halfway across to marvel at the views below from the Canopy.
The Canopy Walk ended at another tower with a final connecting foot bridge to the Jungle Tree House – available for a romantic dinner and night for two at 2,200 Soles about £600. We crossed the rope bridge, old hands at this now, to take a look at what a night would be like suspended 35 metres off the ground. Answer? Not for us really, far too small, a thunderbox for a loo and the room service! Don’t ask.
As we made our way back through the jungle to the lodges we heard a thrashing in the treetops, a troupe of squirrel monkeys was crossing our path directly above us. Small, chestnut brown and incredibly agile these travelling troupes usually number a hundred or more, probably half of them came down from the canopy for a meet-and-greet with the three of us.
They made no audible noise themselves, there was just the crash of ferns as they descended jumping from one branch to another. At one point dislodging an old wooden bough and sending it clattering to the ground landing just in front of us.
But what a sight this was, literally dozens of inquisitive little monkeys completely surrounding us, the nearest just a few feet away, terrific fun and a great memory to take home with us from our days in the Amazon jungle.
I’ve never harboured retirement dreams of slippers and gardening, and hope that I too can make it to the Amazon canopy before I’m too old and infirm to enjoy it. I have done a canopy walk on those rickety walkways though – my experience was in Borneo, and I remember well those shaky legs…
Wishing you every success with the book David – and my thanks to Anne from Random Things Tours for the invitation to be part of the tour.
About the author
David owned and managed a London marketing agency for 15 years, creating advertising campaigns to promote iconic international brands including Mars, Kellogg’s, Disney and Coca-Cola. Following the sale of his agency in 1999 he became one of the leading Consultant Marketing Directors in the UK, steering business in the launch or re-launch of their consumer brands including B&Q, Direct Line and RBS. David lives in Berkshire with his wife Helene.