Well its breakfast time here in Manaus and I've just returned to my room determined to get something down on here. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find the motivation to blog; I have six half-written ones on my computer now, none of which seem relevant at all now. The other guys are still asleep, however I seem to be destined to get up at 5am for the rest of this trip. I think I'm not sleeping properly due to a combination of stress and exhaustion. The exhaustion isn't going to get any better for the next few days / weeks but I realised last night that the stress I can deal with. As soon as I see the other guys today I am going to explain, explain that yes I am stressed at the moment and that I realise it, also to apologise in advance for being awful to be with when I am stressed and to ask them to tell me when they think I am letting it get to me too much, they will be able to see better than me anyway.
So what is stressing me out? EVERYTHING... it started with a sudden storm just a couple of hours away from Manaus which took off a large portion of our keel. After that I am afraid it is all self-inflicted. I'm definitely the clumsiest member of the team: I drop things in the water, I break things, I forget things and for my latest amazing highlight I made a stupid decision. During the trip I have had my trusted iPhone with me, just to capture some personal moments for me and it also holds all of my treasured memories and photos. I've been making joke training videos to post on the Clare college training website and taking pics of myself naked all over the Amazon (all tasteful) … well long story short I spent the whole day yesterday, five hours in total, with a street vendor who was supposed to fix my phone (it had a crack / hole in the front screen). He however managed to make it into a paperweight. He lost screws, wiped the memory, disabled functions; the top and tail of it is that it now no longer works and all of its precious contents are gone.
I know what you are thinking: get over it, it's not the end of the world etc etc, but it's surprising how dependent we become on such small devices. I've already mentioned the drowned iPods; well in my head they were going to be what I used to fall asleep at night, listening to specially selected music that would send me off into a short but amazing slumber filled with dreams of beaches and summer and love, just for a few hours. Likewise the iPhone was my way of documenting the journey for me; I had special galleries with photos I had taken and videos I had shot, as well as photos from home of people I love. I also had the means to plan and write blogs, tweets and all the other fun stuff. I would make little notes in it, I have two other adventures part planned in there, but now however it's all down to memory.
It does raise a few interesting points. Nowadays we are constantly in touch with each other, even hundreds of miles away from anyone else on the Amazon river I can tweet about Mark's new love of heavy rock music and memorising inappropriate lyrics, and we receive an overwhelming amount of support from all over the world. I can pick up the satellite phone and call anyone I like just for a chat and it is easy peasy (thanks to Voyage Manager). Can I really call myself an adventurer then?
People who have done amazing journeys like this in the past have had no support at all; no phones, no email, no tracking devices. When I sailed across the Atlantic I was introduced to a few Tristan Jones books, during one amazing journey (of which there were several) he ended up stuck in the ice of the polar region for 18 months, no one knew where he was, how he was, if he was alive. Likewise the new soundtrack to our daytimes is Eddie Vedder and the soundtrack to the film 'Into the Wild', an amazing film about a loner that found himself in Alaska (I won't spoil the ending - you should watch the film - but maybe I would have been happier with the ending if he had all the support we have?)
Anyway in about five hours we will be setting off again in our trusted boat with all of her tracking devices and emergency beacons and music system and every luxury you can imagine. However we have lost the plunger to the cafetiere so we will be filtering our coffee through a sock for the rest of the trip; it's all about overcoming obstacles. We will see amazing sights, become amazingly tired, see more sunsets and sunrises, the blackest of black nights and more stars than you could ever imagine; we will be followed by dolphins and attacked by more mosquitoes and wasps; we will park unexpectedly on more sandbanks and have to climb into the water and push the boat free again, all whilst hearing the words of Mike Collis and his warnings about stingrays in our heads; we will be blown off-course, we will have clear runs on still water, we will become angry about which side of the cabin the others are sleeping on and we will wave at every boat we see and every child that runs to the bank and shouts.
In all fairness this is an amazing trip. I've learnt so much and it has turned out to be something completely different to what I imagined. Roll on Macapá - we will be there if a week or so, get ready for us ☺