I’m on the road now. The walk has started.
It began with a great turnout from the press and the Cologne Zoo team. We got there early carrying the rhino placard and wearing matching t-shirts.
There were photographers and reporters from several different organisations. We have found 3 articles, and 2 video reports so far, but i’m sure there are more out there!
The keeper helped by feeding the rhino after the press-pack arrived, so “Taco” was quite animated as he had been waiting for his breakfast. Also, they brought along a precious item – a rhino horn – from a deceased animal. Given that this is the object of my quest, to STOP the poachers getting hold of the horns, it was quite ironic and nerve racking to be holding one…even though I know it is just Keratin, or the same as my toe nails.
The Zoo Director, Theo Pagel (who is about to become the chair of the German Zoos Association) made a statement to the press explaining the dire situation and we all posed for pictures. I spoke with several groups and individual reporters to provide context and content for their stories. Gave an interview to the video reporter who did a great editing job. There was much interest, surprise and compassion , which is consistent with the reaction I get with the people in the street.
I walked out of the zoo and headed South to the famous Cologne Dome. This Cathedral was built from the 13th century and is an amazing building. John had driven there and had setup the stand and was passing out our flyers. We planned to stay for a couple of hours, but had to move on early as the authorities were not happy that we did not have approval from the city council to hand out pamphlets, particularly at the cathedral. We talked our way out of a fine, but as John theorised – “What is the worst that can happen”? Being arrested may actually give us even more publicity! Especially now that we knew a few local reporters!
Unbelievably, after having spent months training and having fabulous boots (more in a later post) my feet were extremely sore. This was the time that my neurpathy decided to come back with a vengeance. Well not really come back, because it never went away, but get much worse. Neurpathy affects the nervous system and hits my feet, arms, shoulders. Some people can’t walk because of it’s debilitating and painful effects. It is caused by the chemo I took over a year ago, and doctors say it may go away, but many people have to live with it forever. I have discovered a method to reduce the shoulder pain by wearing a small backpack and holding the shoulder straps in a particular way. It seems that the 7km mark is when my shoulder pain starts. The pain in my feet, I have to live with and rest along the way when the spacms become more intense.
The current status , after 4 days walking is that I have covered 76 km. This is phenomenal, and better than I had expected. My route has changed in two ways…We are now covering 1,800kms, and I am travelling anti-clockwise, so that I can stay in the Rheinland for the first month to be closer to my brother. He also has cancer and is very unwell. I need to spend time with him in this critical period. Our plan is to spend most nights, until we get to Mainz at home in Bad Breisig and visit my brother daily. This will start to be a challenge when the commuting takes longer than the walking each day.
The first day walking was interesting to say the least! I was in the city and suburbs of Cologne and the GPS and I almost divorced each other! It is great on the trail, and maybe if driving in the city, but NOT for walking in a city!! It took me places I didn’t want to go, or couldn’t go…then back tracked when it recalculated the route. ARRRRRGGGGHH. So I need to use the GPS…or so says my manager… but will stay with paper maps in cities from now on! We have adjusted the process and now John does a reconnoitre of the days route and I am walking along walking/cycling tracks wherever I can. Much of the Rhein river has great paths , although there are also some industrial areas where I have to take a detour.
This is a huge journey. We are evolving our way of managing the logistics, the nutrition, the resting, the media, the marketing all in parallel with the actual walking. We are starting to build a routine but also a momentum of awareness. I have a terrible, but necessary poster with me, which I have to update regularly to show the current murders of rhinos. At the day I commenced my walk this was 273 for the year. A devastating number which keeps growing at more that 2 a day. Something must be done to stop this holocaust, this tragedy. I am doing my part. Will you help me to be part of the solution?