Monday, January 09, 2017

Acatenango (2017)

2015’s Everest could have been subtitled ‘How a bunch of self-indulgent morons got themselves killed and in the process put many others’ lives at risk’. 

Yesterday Guatemala staged its own smaller-scale regional version of this tragi-farce, when a group of ‘excursionists’ - whose most expensive piece of trek-relevant kit was probably either a GO-PRO camera or worse, a selfie stick - got lost in driving rain and plunging temperatures on the slopes of Acatenango and duly died from hypothermia. 

I do get the appeal of ascending volcanoes, dormant ones at least, for the view, the personal challenge etc. Here in La Antigua Agua should be sufficient to meet this demand, though the dangers ought still be obvious. 

Acatenango meanwhile really ought to be surrounded by a high fence with signs warning all morons to keep out. 

Anyone else should need to apply, and pay, for permission to enter - rather like the controls that exist at archaeological sites like Machu Picchu - which would control numbers, manage preparedness and give the Bomberos a heads-up on who is on the mountain at any given time.

Part of the problem as I see it is that more and more dimwits are being drawn unprepared to these sort of activities by social media. It’s not so much that they want the experience, the challenge for themselves, they want to SHARE it. 

And like most millennials they want instant gratification, no preparation or dedication required. 

And they come to a land where many locals are willing to facilitate the risks transients take, knowingly or otherwise, in order to expand their income. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Doppelgänger

(A cheeful little sci-fi caper I wrote when I was 13...)

Who is this person I look at? I have but a few moments left to me and then I will be rid of him. I am bored with him, this lowly stranger, for his company only increases my loneliness. A shadowy, perpetual reminder of a person who nobody will ever see again, staring at me from my visor, and with a vivid sneer saying ‘I have no life to lose’. 

From the moment the lifeline had snapped and I had begun my endless trek into nowhere, I knew I was there, waiting. 

My identical twin, my doppelgänger hanging over me like a hungry vulture who knows I will soon be finished. 

I don’t know whether I have suffered from agoraphobia or claustrophobia; both maybe. I’m a wanderer in a terrible dark nothingness unable to die like a human being. I grimace at him. He grimaces. I smile. He smiles. Oh, what a hollow front. I talk to him but his words fail to reach me. He is like a little child from without my suit beckoning me to come out and play, to die. 

Perhaps he is my pathetic ghost warning me of my doom. ‘Go back’, he seems to say, but I’m on a runaway train with no hop of stopping. 

A while back I thought I would plunge into the great blue-green orb and die a fiery death, my family would look up and glance briefly at a small shooting star, nothing special. At least in that I could return once more to the home which I so foolishly left, but now I am spared a little longer and must die quietly, un-noticed until someone or something finds me.

Only the Earth can contain the desires of a man; once beyond, there is no end to his thirst for knowledge and not even the confined space of a pressure-suit can stop him from wandering far. 

My breathing is heavy now the air only just squeezes in. Perhaps when I asphyxiate he will die too, but what if he doesn’t and will have that ghastly ‘I told you do’ face to the end of time?And what if he is that which I shall become - a spirit capable of life only while the body lives too? Perhaps I will soon journey in vain to warn myself...

At last he is blurring, fading; my itinerary comes to and end. I have rid myself of, myself. Now I can journey on towards those little lights, alone.