May 1st 2013. Our Journey On The Wild River.
Sometimes I wonder what I am doing here; the jungle contrasts so greatly to my normal domain. I am my happiest sitting on my old chesterfield sofa, pen in hand, notebook on my lap. Indeed, that is how I have written my greatest poems. Now the heat of the roaring fire has gone and instead the heat of the Borneo sun beats down on my back. Redmond, whom I have only known for six months, somehow persuaded me to accompany him on one of his harebrained adventures. At least I have this, my journal, and my notebook of poems to escape into when his absurd talk of crocodiles and other jungle creatures becomes too much.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against animals or nature. But I like to see trees in paintings, in photographs or out of the window of my car as I’m driven to the library. I have no interest in listening to Redmond recite the Latin name of hundredth specimen of tree we have passed that day in our rickety canoe. And what’s wrong with wanting to travel in comfort? A ship, a yacht, a ferry: all respectable forms of waterborne transport. But a dugout canoe? I was aghast when Redmond revealed it to me. An expression of barely contained glee all over his rugged face, he was like a child at Christmas receiving his first pushbike. I dread to think where he will take us next.
At night he spreads out his maps and talks of where we will go next. I have heard him mention eagles, lizards and monkeys. Even at night I am awoken from my delightful dreams of stanzas and sonnets by his mumbles about hidden coves and undiscovered whirlpools. Richmond tells me we will be traveling back with the current, so the journey should be faster but smoother. I pray that the next few days are a steady meander over calm waters, allowing me peace and time to compose more works for my next anthology. Needless to say my suggestions are overlooked.
I made the same request for a peaceful course this morning and settled myself at the back of the canoe, put my straw boater on my head and lent back ready to immerse myself in the poetry of Swift, only to be rudely interrupted by Richmond twittering about rapids. I managed to keep Swift dry, but I was drenched in river water. I debated talking to Richmond about searching for a calmer route, but he was already gazing into the sky again at some large and ungainly bird flying by, so I thought better of it and carried on reading. Richmond and I are two men so similar in upbringing and education and yet our interests are so different. It dumbfounds me.
In a few days our ‘adventure’ will be over. Not soon enough for me! If Richmond manages to successfully transport us through this tropical nightmare of creepers and critters we will emerge from the wilderness and arrive at a small settlement, the nearest this backwater has to civilization. I sincerely hope to find a shop selling the amenities I am so desperately craving. Never again will I bemoan the quality of my dear wife’s cooking. Never again will I grumble when my beautiful daughters’ cheerful playing disturbs my afternoon nap. And never again will I allow myself to be tempted to travel to far flung places by the inane ramblings of a mad man.
It was a wise man who said “I have travelled the world through my reading.” Indeed, from now on, the great works of Literature are the only transport I need.