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.
(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.
600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Graham Hughes/Francesca Angelini 2012
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