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On the 30th April 1983, I arrived at the Lake Cave kiosk and, as usual was made to feel very welcome by Brian, Liz, and Mark. During the evening, Brian asked me if I would have a look at the drainage system of Lake Cave as the lake had risen about 75 cm in the previous couple of weeks. Brian, Mark and I went down into the cave and, after having a look, I agreed that there was obviously a blockage somewhere. I suggested that we get something long to push up the 23 cm diameter concrete pipe that served as a drain to keep the lake at its natural level.
It was in 1970. I was on an Air India flight, taxiing down the runway to the terminal of the John F. Kennedy International Airport. I was arriving in America for the first time and I had just US$5.00 to my name.
We caught the 3-hour-long afternoon bus ride from Lijiang to Qiaotou. We were on our way to hike Tiger Leaping Gorge, said to be the deepest river gorge in the world, and one of China’s most pristine natural areas.
One of our favorite house guests just went home. Fred liked his first look at Mexico. He carried away vivid impressions. Because he pitched for our undefeated Little League team 40 years ago and is never to be forgotten, food, lodging and sight-seeing were almost free. Fred offered pesos. Good guests do.
A few years ago. No! I tell a lie. It was many years ago, that I over-nighted in Thurso with the intention of next day, catching the ferry from nearby Crabster to Lerwick. I had arrived by train at Scotland’s most northerly railway station and put up at the Royal Hotel, before taking in the sights of this one-time, Viking settlement.
It took us some time to painstakingly squeeze out of the narrow roads of Bangalore, but once we were out of the din and bustle of the IT city, it was time to enjoy the green expanse of the countryside – coconut trees lined up in rows, paddy fields separated by lotus ponds, quaint villages on the outskirts of small towns.
As Pankaj and I sat drinking tea at the small restaurant in Dhikala, at the western extremities of Corbett National Park, we waited for the guide who had asked us to give him a ride back to Gairal, the Forest Rest House we were staying at. Gairal was located at the opposite end of the park and was a good one hour’s drive across exciting jungle and river beds. Just how exciting it could get, we were soon to find out.
I’ve been enjoying your Intrepid Optimists stories, which seem to be chiefly about life and adventure in the tropics. I just want to say that, back in the 50s and 60s, there was still plenty of excitement to be had in the UK. I’m talking about rock climbing.
In those days my mate Pete Berwick, (sadly deceased) and I lived in Oldham.
To say the least, I was flattered by Jaime’ s proposal. “Why not you? You can write English can’t you? ” Jaime Bejerano was the press officer at the British Embassy and the BBC had asked him to recommend a freelance stringer for Ecuador. I had jumped at the chance.
Of course I could write English, - sort of. I could even spell short words and, given enough time, I could put together a few of them to make a comprehensible sentence. But what if I had to broadcast?
I was a soldier once. You’d not think so if you could see me now. The curly red hair, the steely blue eyes and the lean hard body have long gone, metamorphed into the tubby, watery eyed, baldy I am today. However, the memories of my tour of duty serving Queen and country in the Canal Zone have remained sharp and fresh in my mind.