There is no chance of me getting on board a cargo ship from Sri Lanka to Maldives. This is a rather unique situation and it’s taken 42 months and 198 countries to get to this point. In all other cases I’ve got permission to sail or there has been an alternative shipping company. But, please, my wonderful Odysseans DO NOT DESPAIR!
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so dismissive of fate in my last post. I’ve often equated The Odyssey Expedition to a real-life video game: elements of Pokémon (gotta catch ’em all!), Lemmings (avoid the traps, get these poor buggers home) and, more than anything, Monkey Island (I’ve got to get me a ship – by solving puzzles!).
My favourite video game of all time (because it’s the best video game of all time) is, of course, Grim Fandango. If you’ve never heard of it, you might as well tell me you haven’t heard of Sullivan’s Travels or the country Djibouti. I can only assume you haven’t been paying enough attention. Back of the class!
Grim Fandango tells the story of Manny Calavera, a travel agent in the Land of the Dead, who finds (by exploring an incredibly rendered art-deco Aztec/Mayan otherworld) that the place is riddled with corruption. Thus begins his Four Year Journey of the Soul, through the Petrified Forest, Across the Sea of Lament, Around the Waterfall At The End of the World and then finally high up into the Snow-capped Mountains and The Entrance to the Ninth Underworld – the place of eternal rest.
It looks like my journey is going to mirror Manny’s in many ways, not least the ‘Four Year Journey of the Soul’ bit. After starting this Earth Odyssey in January 2009, I’m not going to be finished and home again until December 2012. The irony being that I’m ginger! I have no soul!! (Don’t tell the Devil – heh! What a sucker!)
Was this fated from the start, or is it just how things have turned out? In any case, Plan B (yes yes yes there’s always a Plan B) requires me to hang around here until October, then hitch a ride on a cruise ship which will be leaving Cochin in India on October 18. This ship will take me to THE MALDIVES, SEYCHELLES and Madagascar, allowing me to hop a ride on a passing PIL ship that will, hopefully, take me to Africa, from where I can trundle up to SOUTH SUDAN and put a nail the size of Michigan in this planet and say IT’S DONE.
Then it will be the small case of getting back to Liverpool overland from South Sudan. I hope, like the chaps in World War I, to be home for Christmas.
So now you know my plan, what on Earth am I going to do in Sri Lanka for another 3 months? Good question. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I could really do with putting The Odyssey on hold and going home for a while. When I say I, I really mean my mum and dad need me around right now, my three friends who are getting married need me to attend, and it goes without saying that sweet Mandy, the love of my life, needs to see me.
Only one problem. It’s brutal, it’s rude, it makes everyone blush and you should never ask about it in polite conversation: it’s money. Here in Negombo I’m spending (on average) less than £5 a day. I have enough cash to stay here until October, and I have (just) enough left on my credit cards to finish this thing (presuming I can ride for free on the next three ships). But no more. And since I really need to go home for August, I decided to smash the emergency glass and ask my awesome amazing friends to have a whip-around to help me pay for my flight home.
I was given the money I needed within 24 hours. All I can say is THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.
I’m flying via Kuwait and will arrive in London at 1700 on Saturday August 11, I’ll be seeing my London friends that night and then I’ll be returning to Liverpool for the afternoon of Sunday August 12. And a roast meal at my mum’s. I cannot wait to see everyone again.
I will return to Sri Lanka (and re-start The Odyssey Expedition) on September 26. Hop on a ship to India and then horizon, thar me bring.
However, while me and my friends were having our epic love-in, others were less than impressed. I got some serious flak for asking for a bunch of Baron Greenbacks off my buddies, for example:
Even without the hate mail and the virtual daggers, doing this made me feel like a bit of a twot, of course nobody wants to go cap-in-hand to their peers. But I want you to understand: these are my friends. My good friends, friends who I’ve known for years, in some cases decades. Friends who I’d do anything for, and friends that know I will pay back as soon as I have the money to do so. Others, readers of this blog, feel that I’ve given them enough entertainment over the last three years for it to be fair enough chuck in a few quid for my labours.
If I was rich like Ewan McGregor or getting paid like the guys at Vice, asking your hard-working mates for money would be completely beyond the pale. But I’m not. I write these blog entries that thousands of you read every day and once in every 12 months Google puts £60 in my account. Since my TV show started airing in July 2010, I’ve received a single royalty cheque for £600 from the BBC. I don’t mean to bang on about this, but I got seriously screwed by the powers that be.
The killing joke is that if I was a session musician turning up to play the triangle on a track that is then put on heavy rotation on MTV, I’d earn thousands in royalties – the video director, who put in weeks of hard work, creativity and genius into his or her creation, would get NO ROYALTIES WHATSOEVER. TV is not a fair business.
So yes, it’s shit having to beg for money, but while I’m not swimming around in vats of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck, and while the only things I own in the world are this laptop, my camcorder and the clothes in my backpack, you do what you’ve got to do. Sorry if I offended anyone. I guess you don’t know me very well.
And the email? This was my response:
I don’t travel for free, I travel on a shoestring budget in which three things were not factored in:1. That it would take me 3 and a half years to get this far2. That I would be given no support whatsoever by the production company of my TV show3. That I would get paid less than £11,000 by the producers of the TV showI had to fly home last year because my sister died. I used my ’emergency get-home fund’ then. And you know what? I only keep going because I know it annoys the hell out of people like you.Love n’ hugs,Graham HughesNEGOMBO, SRI LANKA (198 of 201)