Ed Stafford and Cho Sanchez walked out of the jungle, onto the beach and into the Atlantic Ocean. 859 days earlier, Stafford had begun the walk at the headwaters of the Amazon and followed that river for almost two years and nearly 4,000 miles, picking up Sanchez five months into the trip.Yesterday morning,
In addition to being the first person to walk the entirety of the world's greatest river by drainage and second-greatest by length, Stafford was the first to blog such a trip. He blogged, Twittered and uploaded photos and video the whole way on the trip site, Walking the Amazon.
World of Firsts
The first goal of the expedition was to do something that had never been done before, and surprisingly, it hadn't been. The subsequent goals were a low-key approach to increasing awareness of the boon and threats the Amazon gives and receives. Nothing militant, just an infectious object lesson on why the Amazon is worthy of consideration even by people who will never come anywhere near it.
Stafford checked in to the wider world and noted progress, reaction by indigenous groups and whatever else grabbed his attention. He carried AST Thrane satellite phones connected to Inmarsat, a GPS unit, a rugged laptop computer (on which Google Earth was sometimes consulted) and a Sony HVR-A1E camcorder, all double-bagged against the relentless wet. Perhaps the most unexpected tech is a set of 40-year old Peruvian Geographical Society 1:100,000 topographical maps.
You Can't Amplify What's Not There
Tech enabled Stafford to do some things he couldn't. Primarily, it helped get the message out and keep it out, hooking people into the excitement of what he and Cho were doing. It extended and amplified what Stafford was doing. But even as it did so it reaffirmed what anyone who's ever been thrown back on their own devices knows: without their own devices, additional ones won't keep you safe.
Congratulations to Ed and Cho. They're co-recipients of the first annual ReadWriteWeb Good Bad I'm the Guy with the Gun Award for exceptional bad-assery while connected to the Web.
Photo of Ed and Cho by Keith Ducatel