It has been quite a year. A quick round-up, in words and pictures….
Countries visited – 12:
Papua New Guinea
Presentations given: 47
1 in Vail
3 in Seattle
1 in Ecuador (TED)
3 in Papua New Guinea
1 in Malaysia
4 in Philippines
30 on speaking tour
2 in Istanbul
2 in London
Miles rowed: about 2,000
Friends made: countless
2010 started out at Romy’s farmhouse in Wales, seeing the New Year in with a few good friends.
Then from snowy Wales it was off to Hawaii, for a few meetings in Honolulu followed by a few weeks of peace and calm and productive hard work at Henk Rogers’ ranch on the Big Island.
My first speaking engagement of the year was at the Vail Symposium in Colorado. I arrived, my luggage didn’t. But with a bit of chauffeuring by David Saunders and a whizz around Denver’s thrift stores, a new outfit was found without undue trouble or expense.
I traveled via San Francisco for a swift round of meetings, then up to Oregon to spend the rest of February and early March at Michelle Slade’s house in Hood River. As with January, a productive time in one of my favourite parts of the world.
Off to Seattle for three presentations as part of the National Geographic Live speaker series, at the 2,500 seat Benaroya Hall. I discovered that I really, really like talking to big audiences. The energy was just fantastic.
Then up into Canada to Vancouver Island to spend a week with adventurers Colin and Julie Angus. Luckily my visit coincided with Greg Kolodziejzyk conducting the sea trials of WiTHiN, his sleek pedal-powered craft. I took it out for a spin and achieved speeds that me and my rowboat can only dream of.
TED Mission Blue conference in the Galapagos Islands, on board the National Geographic Endeavour. Hobnobbed with the likes of Leonardo diCaprio, Ed Norton, Glenn Close, Chevy Chase, Damien Rice and Jean Michel Cousteau, and became quite possibly the first TED speaker ever to retrieve their notes from their bra in mid-speech (fortunately edited out of the online version).
Then back to “work” – off to Kiribati for the third and final stage of my Pacific row.
19th April to 4th June: row, row, row your boat… to become the first woman to row solo across the Pacific.
Spent in Madang, Papua New Guinea, getting boat ready for shipping and giving presentations. And doing as much diving as I could find time for on Madang’s incredible reefs, still largely unspoiled by coral bleaching.
Still in PNG, but a change of scenery, joining the crew of Oceanswatch’s Moksha boat to travel around the islands, spreading the word about the importance and practicalities of marine conservation.
July – August:
Talked my way around Asia, in the trip I had promised myself as a reward for finishing the Pacific. As I usually do, I combined business and pleasure.
Malaysia: joined forces with local coalition of nonprofits to campaign against plans for a coal-fired power plant in an environmentally sensitive location.
Cambodia: spent 3 days in the capital, Phnom Penh, including a very photogenic boat trip to Silk Island.
Philippines: spent two weeks as the guest of El Nido eco-resort in exchange for doing several presentations. Also presented to WWF-Philippines and the Young Presidents’ Organization in Manila.
Thailand: retreat on Koh Samui.
Hong Kong: presentations at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and the Royal Geographical Society.
Blue Ocean Film Festival in Monterey – a happy reunion with many TED alums – then Burning Man event in the desert of Nevada, thanks to Aleksey and Elena and their crazy Russian photographer friends. Memorable, amazing, unique experience. The counter-culture lives on.
September – October:
The Speaking Tour. Santa Monica, Durham, Asheville, Greenville, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington DC, San Francisco, Sacramento, Vancouver, San Diego, Minneapolis and New York – with the California Climate Ride thrown in for good measure. 30 speaking engagements in 5 weeks, plus countless meetings and interviews. Thanks once again to everybody who arranged events and provided hospitality. You were awesome!
Istanbul, Turkey, for the World Coastal Rowing Championships. Promptly came down with a cold, but managed to resurrect myself sufficiently for two more presentations and several interviews.
London. Meetings, interviews, recovery. Launched the campaign for a plastic-bag-free Olympics in association with Greener Upon Thames.
A week in the Lake District with my mother and sister, whom I don’t get to see often enough.
Salcombe, Devon. Went there with three objectives: first draft of Pacific book, get fit, lose weight. Managed the first two, but the coffee shops and delis of Salcombe have a lot to answer for. All that writing (110,000 words in 18 days) did give me a fearsome appetite that outweighed (literally) the great workouts with Sylvia and Becky.
The icing on this very tasty cake of a year was being named as one of the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year for 2010.
I rounded off December with trips to Cirencester, Leeds, and back to Romy’s in the snow with Mum to celebrate Christmas, bringing the year neatly full circle.
Except that it hasn’t really been a circle. It feels more like an upwards spiral. As time passes, I am learning so many things, and meeting so many people, and as a result am becoming more effective in my role as a campaigner. But still so much more to learn, and so very much more to do…
A huge thanks to all who have made 2010 so special in so many ways. Here’s hoping that 2011 is the best year yet for ALL of us.
Onwards and upwards!
[I’ve created a slideshow with more pics of the year. I very much doubt I have the bandwidth here to upload it, so will post this blog while I can – and hopefully the slideshow to appear in due course.]