THE STORY BEHIND WRITING 'IN THE TREES'

EXTRACTS FROM MY TRAVEL JOURNAL

Saturday
Aug132011

THIS ISN'T SOME MADE UP STORY. IT'S REAL. 

Greg explained to me about Guatemala as we walked up [ie. climbed] that last hill.  He sprang up it like the earth-crunching Terminator he is and had plenty of breath left to talk when we reached the top.  I plainly couldn’t go and meet the group because I couldn’t get a word out let alone breathe, my face was bright red and I was pouring sweat.  While I tried to get myself together, Greg went on over the brow of the hill to the group, to announce our arrival and introduce them to Idris.  Then he came back for me with the group’s leader, Sully.  Together they showed me what I couldn’t at first see for myself.  Beyond this hill, they explained, lay Guatemala - a desperately poor nation with an enormous population who’d cut down and destroyed their own rainforest in the interests of money and their own survival, and were now attempting to pour over the border, here in this remote region where no one could see what they were up to, to do the same to Belize.   Tracts of forest had already been razed bare.  That was why some of the hills we’d just trekked over had been open to the sun. And that was why this hilltop was bare too.

I looked around....

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Friday
Aug122011

HILLS!!!!!!!!!!!

I have a feeling it’s going to take a long time to get down everything I’m seeing and experiencing here at Rio Blanco, partly because there’s so much of it and partly because I’m so tired that every time I pick up my journal I start falling asleep.  

Where to begin?  Perhaps I’ll begin with filling in a few details about getting here.  The first hill was difficult, but bearable, but it had very little in the way of river when we came down the other side.  The second hill was definitely trickier, up and up with no end in sight, but the river on the other side was shallow and fast-flowing and as good as anything I’d ever seen. I plunged straight into and did that old cowboy-film thing of filling up my hat with water and slapping it down on my head.  Bliss....

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Thursday
Aug112011

22nd FEBRUARY 2008 - WILDERNESS EXPERIENCE

Today’s the day.  How do I feel?  Certainly this is what I came out here for, and even though it'll be harder and more challenging than any other day so far in Belize, I've got to get through it.  It's for this, more than any other day, that I put back Dad’s funeral earlier in my trip when the news came through that he had died.   After all, without this day and what it'll bring, there could be no book. I came out here to Belize to meet the people who are waiting at the end of today's trek.  I came to see the project they're working on and interview them for my book, also to see the destruction of the rainforest that they're struggling to help stem. 

And now that objective lies only one day away.  It’s within grasp....

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