Day 1: Hey-Ho LET’S GO!

01.01.09: 7.30am.  Woke up to find that sand demons had filled my teeth with silica gel and that a brass band had barged its way into my brain and had started to bashing out the 1812 Overture at a volume that would make an Indonesian quiver.  Maybe not the ideal start to The Odyssey Expedition.  Then again, maybe the ideal start to the Odyssey wasn't an unbelievably hectic three month run-up, a kamikaze car ride down to London, a bust video camera, a broken tooth and no confirmation (as yet) that all this nonsense is going to be made into a television show. Add to that the last I'm going to see of my girlfriend Mandy, the love of my life, for a year. Our romantic last night - we booked a fancy hotel in London, a bottle of wine and a take out... and I…

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Day 2: Mostly Harmless

02.01.09: Arriving at some ungodly hour in Posadas, we took a taxi over the Paraguayan border.  And back.  I would love to tell you how much fun and how interesting Paraguay is, but I can't.  It isn't.  They may as well put posters in travel agencies that say 'Paraguay: Forget it'. So as soon as possible we headed out of Posadas on another coach, arriving at Resistencia a few hours later.  Only when I got off the coach, I forget to pick up my GPS tracker which I need to keep you all informed where I am each day!  Horrified by my rampant stupidity, Carlos came to my rescue and got the coach company to ring the driver (now on his way back to a place called Corrientes) and retrieve the GPS.  Which they did, and had it driven back to Resistencia on the next bus.…

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Day 3: On The (Bolivian) Buses

03.01.09: Another very early morning and after joining me on the bus to San Salvador De Jujuy (pronounced HooHoy, which is something I'd expect Mr Burns to say when he answers the phone) Carlos disembarked to get on with his life.  I, meanwhile, trooped on to the border with Bolivia. The queue to get across the border was eye watering.  There must have been at least 700 people in the queue and ONE, yes ONE, guy with the rubber exit stamp.  Okay - so I pushed in.  Don't blame me - this is for charity!  At least that's my excuse.  But somewhere in the back of my mind is an unshakable belief that queuing is for chumps. An Argentine girl got a little ratty with me, so I pretended (somewhat unconvincingly) to be Russian.  While waiting for my Bolivian entry stamp, I got chatting with a…

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VIDEO: The Gringo (2002)

In this eight part series, I take THE GRINGO TRAIL through South America. Starting in BUENOS AIRES, I have a quick look around URUGUAY and CHILE before heading up to BRAZIL just in time to miss the 2002 World Cup Final. But I didn't miss the party afterwards!! Then I head over to Bolivia, the most BRILLIANT country in the WORLD (and I should know, I've been to a few!). From the salt plains of UYUNI to the rivers of the AMAZON RAINFOREST via the Health and Safety-baiting Silver Mines of POTOSI and the CAMINO DE LA MUERTE (the Road of Death), Bolivia is just a powerhouse of nutty hilarity from beginning to end. After hitting the INCA TRAIL to MACHU PICCHU, I head up through PERU and ECUADOR and end my journey in Bogota, COLUMBIA, one of the most dangerous capital cities in the world.…

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Day 1,400: The Wandering Rocks

Fri 02.11.12: Don’t get me wrong, I really love Réunion – it’s fun, the weather is like perpetual spring, the food is great and my French has improved in the last week beyond measure. And I’m doing quite well, all things considered, you know, 200 countries visited, just one to go, I get to live out my Manny Calavera fantasies and say I’ve been on a four-year journey of the soul (the joke being that I’m ginger and therefore have no soul) and one way or another I should be home in a couple of months. But every silver lining has a cloud, and what with Neptune blocking my passage to the island of Madagascar and depositing me on the French Island of Réunion like some latter-day Papillon, I’ve got to figure a cunning way out of this fix. To the instant rescue comes splendid shipping…

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