Friday, September 18, 2009

why did the brit cross the strait?

I had been in the restaurant before. My friend Purkey recommended the lasagna as the "second best in the world." Lasagna -- in a Mexican restaurant.

When I sat down, there was only one other patron. I had seen him before. Jogging. Walking around Melaque. Sitting in the same restaurant -- almost every evening. At his computer -- a very complex-looking instrument.

And always with an obvious intensity.

The guy had a presence -- a presence that did not invite intruders.

But I am not one to be stopped by obvious social cues.

So, I attempted to strike up a conversation. The responses were polite. Terse. Factual. With a British accent.

His bearing, conversation, and appearance spoke of a recent military past.

Words like "expedition" and "Russia" added their own exotic possibilities. I eliminated the more exotic simply because those people do not openly use such terms.

I then let the matter drop. And attacked my lasagna.

Then it hit me. I seemed to remember reading a blog about a Brit who was walking his way around the world. Due to bureaucratic issues, his trip had stalled in Russia -- and he was now in Melaque.

Sure enough.

His name is Karl Bushby -- and he is the first
Wikipedia entry I have met since coming to Mexico.

His full story is on his
web site. Including an answer to the interesting question: Why Melaque?

And that story is fascinating. Walking around the world is not just a physical feat. It is a political feat.

He has already walked from the tip of South America, through North America, over the Bering Strait, and well into Russia. Current Russian visa requirements create barriers to making progress through Siberia.

When the dinner began, I thought I might have my own Graham Greene or Dashiell Hammett tale to tell.

But mine is better. I feel as if I had dinner with an Edwardian hero (such as T.E. Lawrence or Henry Morton Stanley) in a post-modern age.

And he is all the more remarkable for it.


DanaJ said...


Tulum Living said...

What an amazing chance meeting. I cannot wait to read his story. What a facinating one it must be.

PS_ How was the lasagna? was it the on parr with "one of the best."

Felipe said...

I admire raving lunatics. Wish I had met the young fellow.

Chrissy y Keith said...

I got a Visa to go to Siberia when it was still the Soviet Union. Tell him to join a Rotary Club and then they can send him on official business to meet with every club in Siberia. My District was Rotary 5010. We were the closest clubs to the Soviet Union at the time. They wanted to be able to join Rotary International, but we kinda had this thing about not allowing communist nations in on the club. Anywho, RI sent me and about 20 others over to check things out in a horrible Siberian town called Magadan. Long story, my vote was no. But within a few years, we sponsored the first club in Russia.

Anonymous said...

"He is all the more remarkable for it."

Again, ambiguous pronominal reference. Or, perhaps not.

Is the "it" you refer to his extraordinarily good luck in having met you?

A. N. Moose

Anonymous said...

Love the story, it is amazing and your writing is as well.
Isn't it great what a world it is?.. I admire people who set goals, and go for it!
Hugs, Darlene

Irene said...

How did he get from Alaska to Russia? I don't think you can walk across the Bering Strait anymore. I hope he is able to finish his walk home.

glorv1 said...

Great story and I hope the lasagna was good too. Thanks for sharing.

Steve Cotton said...

DanaJ -- Wow, indeed! It is quite a trek.

Tulum Living -- He also has a book. I may pick up a copy. As for the lasagna: I am a bad person to ask. Can't stand the stuff myself. It always tastes like fund-raiser food to me.

Felipe -- When I was talking to him, he reminded me of a clean-cut version of the fellow you encountered some time ago -- the fellow heading south.

Chrissy -- If you take a look at his blog, I doubt Rotary membership will resolve the issues he is facing. He is entering a military-controlled area.

ANM -- And you would consider it to be anything but?

A Dancing Mango -- Thank you for the very kind compliment. I never tire of them. But, I assure you, I would have tired of this walk some time ago. He is a true adventurer.

Irene -- The story is on his blog. He walked a very circuitous route.

Gloria -- Karl certainly does have a fascinating story.