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Ed Stafford walks two years in the Amazon jungle

By Ed Stafford
Walking the Amazon: Day 740

Ed Stafford
Ed Stafford now believes his walk will take 18 months longer than first predicted

I only really realised it was 2 April 2010 when I held the video camera wearily up to my face to start doing a video diary.

"Crikey its our two year birthday Cho!", I called out, actually quite surprised by the fact I was affected by the date.

The main emotion is being worn out. I look back on the early videos we took on the Pacific coast of Peru two years ago and I see a naive enthusiasm that has been knocked about a bit over the past two years.

I'm no longer walking with my original partner Luke, he left after three months, but I've been walking with a Peruvian forestry worker for 20 months now.

Cho's become a solid mate and we have the brotherly ability to vent at each other with frustrated exhaustion and know that the other won't mind one bit.

The important thing is we have complimentary skills and mutual respect - the markings of a good pairing.

Making friends, not enemies

The most memorable moment has to be being taken prisoner by a tribe of Asheninka Indians.

We'd been strongly warned not to pass their lands and that I would be killed if I tried to continue. We thought we'd be crafty and sneak along the sand-bank island in the centre of the river.

Ed Stafford lighting a fire
We lived off palm hearts and piranhas for several weeks in the summer of 2009 - and lost a considerable amount of weight!
Ed Stafford, Amazon adventurer

As we almost reached the end of the island Cho told me to look over my shoulder. As I did I saw several dugout canoes approaching from the far bank.

The display was immediately frightening as the men and women in the small boats were all standing up and holding either shotguns, machetes, or bows and arrows.

As they rushed towards us up the beach I thought we were about to be killed. We'd known it was a gamble to push on and I was expecting to pay for that gamble with my life.

The looks on the faces of the women especially left me in no doubt that had we been even remotely aggressive the tribesmen were ready to kill us. These people have lived a violent life through the terrorist years and are no strangers to shedding blood.

But we weren't killed. And every bit of interaction helped dispel the confusion and anger in these fiercely defensive indigenous people.

We were taken back to their village, made to show all of the contents of our packs, and subjected to a passionate lecturing from the chief.

But with time it became obvious that our lives were not in danger and we started to plea with the tribe. After much debate we were granted permission to continue if we hired the chief and his brother as guides through the Asheninka lands.

We accepted this offer and incredibly Alfonso and Andreas ended up becoming loyal friends and walking with us for 47 days.

They returned home to their village with broad smiles and a new outboard motor for the community bought out of their wages.

Starvation and dreams of home

From Peru we passed through the southern tip of Colombia until we arrived in the Brazilian Amazon basin.

Brazil has posed less problems with the people - they have generally been hospitable beyond criticism and we are always fed and looked after when we stumble, somewhat fazed, out of the tree line.

Gadiel "Cho" Sanchez
Ed hopes his companion Cho will be able to travel back to the UK with him

The Brazilian dangers have been lack of people and sheer remoteness.

Cho and I have had several incidences where our expected re-supply settlement has moved (or never existed) and so have had some hungry walks for several days on little or occasionally no food.

We lived off palm hearts and piranhas for several weeks in the summer of 2009 - and lost a considerable amount of weight!

I originally thought the journey would take me a year from beginning to end. Wishful thinking definitely.

I now estimate I'll be back in Leicestershire in September this year. Two years and six months after I left.

Cho's very keen to learn English so I've said I'll get him a visa and some work in Leicestershire and get him playing rugby up at Stoneygate.

We've been practising passing a rugby ball with our water bottles in the jungle already.

Thoughts are on finishing now. Not wanting to wish the expedition away but its hard not to succumb to the lures of home after such a long time living such a basic and somewhat gruelling existence.

First stop - The Bewicke Arms.

See more photos from Ed's Amazon adventure in our photo gallery plus keep up with his latest blogs and videos on his website: Walking the Amazon




SEE ALSO
In pictures: Walking the Amazon
09 Aug 10 |  Nature & Outdoors

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