And all of those shenanigans led, at length, to our last night together. That was it, 5 weeks of hard slog and laughs all over in seemingly a flash. Pass the handkerchief! Drained, delirious, shattered and spent; wet, weary and haggard but happy, our venturers somehow found enough energy to enjoy the evening’s festivities which included a special chicken biryani cooked by our meister chef, Umesh – I’m convinced he must be a deity in human disguise because the quality of his cooking was simply off the chart. I sat shaking my head in disbelief that anything could taste that good, even as I consumed the culinary zenith before me.
We also sat down to an awards ceremony for our best and most inspiring venturers, including resident Mr Motivator, Wesley Jones! Niovi and Tony ‘TJ’ Spence deservedly picked up the awards for best female and best male venture, having shown quality and class in their deportment over the entire expedition. But, you know, the best thing about Raleigh expeditions is the sense of collective achievement that is felt by everyone at the end. We’ve all found it tough, emotional, frustrating and perplexing at times, yes; but, through supporting each other in those moments, we’ve also found it exhilarating, thought provoking, touching and, more often than not, downright hilarious too. It’s difficult to think of how it could be better, in many ways.
I like to think that these were the same thoughts going through the minds of our venturers as they waved muted goodbyes to us from the other side of the coach windows. They certainly had the bittersweet expressions of people who know that a great chapter has closed. Perhaps it will console them to know, as they head back to their homelands, that a Raleigh expedition never really leaves you and that, like any chapter, it can be reread at will and elicit emotions that never really diminish.
Thank you for reading. This is zero, out.