Tales from the road

Farewell to a friend: a life in walking boots

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On Saturday morning I awoke to a phonecall telling me about the untimely death of our dear friend, and loyal traveller, Christine Gordon. Nothing to do with Covid-19, just an apparently random car accident in a distant land. At a time like this, it seems apt to celebrate a life which was dedicated to travel - mostly on foot.

Christine was always full of bright ideas. Sparkle. Excitement. Like a puppy.

When I travelled with her, we soon realised that her frenetic energy meant that dropping her off few miles short of our destination was the best way to keep Christine's legs happily stretched. But although she was utterly comfortable in her own company as she hiked, she was also a great connector.

On that same trip, consisting of a somewhat rag-tag convoy of 16 of us travelling along Chile's Carretera Austral, she came to me to ask if we might have a barbecue one night.

It was a patently ridiculous idea. We were quite literally in the middle of nowhere, a remote village called Chile Chico. Where would I find a barbecue? Where would I get the food? When would I do this? Who would cook it?

Wanting to show willing, I felt it politic to be seen to ask the question of our host. So it was that I asked Veronica about arranging a barbecue for 16 of us that night.

“Why yes! We have our own quincho (barbecue). My husband would love it. Why don’t you go off walking today and he will sort it out?”

We came back that evening to find the fire burning, mountains of delicious food and Ricardo happily captaining the coals. Not only did we feast, we ended up singing dancing to the wee small hours. Our group became friends that night, all because of Christine's 'ridiculous' idea.

In our day to day lives it's all too easy to forget to notice innocence, goodness and kindness. Christine made it impossible to ignore.

I know that I, for one, will be trying to be more Christine. Now more than ever.

Travel well lovely lady, in your walking boots.

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