Festive Inspiration from ‘the happy wanderer’

It’s been tough, coming up with Festive cheer to end this year, with civil war raging in all its ghastliness in Syria, other conflicts world-wide, this autumn’s hideous Jimmy Saville paedophile sex abuse revelations accompanied by other kinds of institutional corruption in the UK – and the appalling ‘massacre of the innocents’ in the USA just last week.

However, at the eleventh hour, just before Xmas, I have succeeded – thanks to one Graham Hughes, a native of Liverpool, UK.

Graham arrived back in the UK on the Winter Solstice 2012, having begun a most unusual adventure on January 1st 2009. His take on doing ‘something nobody had done before’ was this: to become the first world citizen to travel to all 201 of the world’s sovereign states without flying. And he did it, the Odyssey Expedition, unsupported by a back-up crew, doing his own filming – on a budget of less than $100 (£62) per week. The charity Water Aid is to benefit from the sponsorship he has raised.

A98drSVCEAAIE8W(from Twitter, 23.12.2012, via Marcus Chown ‏@marcuschown “It’s a beautiful world: Milky Way over Quiver Tree Forest, Namibia” (Credit: Florian Breuer) 

I read about Graham’s amazing journey yesterday in the MY WEEK section of the UK’s Sunday Times. How did he manage it? “It helped that I’m a good blagger” he is quoted as saying in his relating of the tale to Francesca Angelini.

How about this, his best blag? He managed to get a free ride on a cruise ship travelling from New Zealand to Australia – complete with a huge room with champagne every day, “even although my shoes were in pieces and my clothes were threadbare.”

By the end of 2009 Graham had ticked off Central America, North America and Europe, and had been to 133 of his list of countries. Having broken off to go home to Liverpool, UK  at the end of 2010 to spend time with his terminally ill sister before she died, “I thought about packing it in, but my sister wanted me to keep going”. So he returned to his journey, carrying on where he had left off.

Of his many adventures and setbacks including a brief  spell of mistaken imprisonment on the Cape Verde Islands, his best story comes from an overnight bus journey in Iran.

He describes sitting near a little old lady who was chatting to someone on her mobile phone. Suddenly, she prodded him in the ribs and handed him the phone. The person on the other end introduced himself as Said Hussein, grandson of the old lady. She had called Said to express her worries for Graham, being concerned that when the bus got to its destination in the morning, he might have nowhere to go for breakfast. She wanted to know if she could take him home to cook breakfast for him.

By the time I had finished reading this wonderfully touching story, I was almost in tears. But it was his conclusion that really uplifted and inspired me. I want to share it with everyone who reads this blog:

“You come across jerks in each country, but for every one there are 100 people who will do everything in their power to help you. Most people are good eggs really. This trip reaffirmed my faith in humanity.”

Festive greetings everyone! Thanks for your continuing support via visits, comments and emails – and may 2013 be a fulfilling year.

River Kelvin Dec 2010

River Kelvin Dec 2010

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Graham Hughes/Francesca Angelini 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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10 responses to “Festive Inspiration from ‘the happy wanderer’

  1. Hi Anne – I didn’t get to read this till today (Jan 4th) but as sychronicity would have it, it’s the very day I needed to read it. What a fantastic story and shows that a “human doing” is exactly what a “human being” should be striving for.

    • Hi Carole

      that’s great! Amazing, isn’t it, how at times we come upon just the right words or images when our spirits need a boost? I really loved this story. We need more of them, out there, in public….

  2. It’s always a blessing to come across someone who restores our faith in humanity. Thanks for sharing this story. Hope you have had a great Christmas and wishing you much happiness for the coming year xxx

    • Many thanks for dropping by, Selma, for your good wishes for 2013, and comments during 2012. I’ve very much enjoyed reading your blog this year – and do hope that 2013 is productive and positive for you and yours. You will be so glad to see the back of 2012, I’m guessing….

  3. What an amazing story. It’s a little ironic that, with all our social media and so on, actual human contact between people is diminishing. We need to do what we can to counteract that – even in our daily lives. We may not be able to travel around the world, but we at least can talk to the person next to us!

  4. A wonderful holiday inspiration!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing, Anne…how cool…

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