Friday, 18 May 2012
Time for one more...
At last, a brown bear! While I was out with Paul and his wife Laura, the others had gone with Barni, to a lake known to be a drinking place for bears. There was no disappointment this time; a large male did a ‘bluff charge’ up to about 30m away. This is when a bear is trying to tell you that you are too close, it rarely ends in an attack as long as you stand still and don’t look the bear in the eye. They all admitted to bricking it, but did get some decent footage. I had another great day meeting some of Paul and Laura’s friends and Laura helped me with the present I bought Beverley, by writing down the translation of the hand-painted Hungarian script. I managed to sort my e-mails and actually go on Facebook too!
I met another guy in the village last night that could speak English very well. Joppi was 13 when he was sent to a school in Hungary, and from there ended up in Denmark where he completed his schooling. Now back in the village he is building a house here and wants to settle back where he was born, in Ojdula. He told us that only 2 % of the people in this area are Romanian, and they all speak Hungarian and consider themselves to be of that nationality. And yet, they are forced to fly the Romanian flag outside all public buildings, are not allowed to show their own flag and even if stopped by the police, they have to converse with them in Romanian. I just hate oppression, don’t you? It’s going on all over the world and there’s nothing that people can do about it; I see no end.
Driving into the town yesterday with Paul and Laura, my phone rang and with a number I didn’t recognise. I was imagining it was someone like my dentist letting me know I had missed an appointment, but no, it was BBC Radio Cumbria! A new drug for Prostate Cancer is about to be approved by NICE and made available on the NHS. It can extend the life of those with advanced PCa by up to a year, so they wanted to do a live interview with me. “Of course, I would be delighted to”, I said. “When do you want to do it?” “In 10 minutes”, the producer said. So as we neared town, they phoned back and I jumped from the vehicle (when it had stopped) and did the interview. You can hear it on the BBC Cumbria web site, it was at about 8.55am -ish after the sports report. One day we’ll get a drug that can defeat this thing forever, until then we must encourage those men who want to fight on, and give not only support, but hope to them and their families. We must also look at the drug companies who are heavily subsidised by the government, and ask why they charge the NHS the ridiculous amounts that they do!
Tonight we plan the return journey! I hope we can plan it better than the journey here. It is a 450-mile drive to Belgrade and our flight is at 6.30am on Sunday. So the plan is to leave here around 8am on Saturday, meaning we should arrive at the airport, with rest stops, at about 8pm Saturday night. If we do we might even get to watch the Champions League Final between Chelsea and B Munich! We then sleep on the airport floor until we are called for the flight; ahhh sheer luxury!
Beverley picks me up at Luton airport at about 8.30 am and we drive to Penrith (after many hugs and kisses) arriving in Penrith about 2pm. Well that’s the plan, that’s the expectations, now let’s do the reality, again!
A big thank you to those who gave substantial help to make this journey possible…
Beverley (my wife)
The Transylvanian Wildlife Project: Paul & Laura White, Laci, Barni & Botti.
The University of Cumbria
The Prostate Cancer charity
Richard Hopkins (4x4)
Paul Welham (Expedition Lecturer)
Paul (my brother)
And thank you to everyone else who contributed in any way, no matter how small, you made it happen.
This has been an amazing expedition! Expectations have met with very different realities much of the time, but we have adapted to overcome obstacles. Sometimes fraught with difficulty and personalities conflicting when tiredness set in; it has not been a place for the feint hearted. Paul and I have been good friends for several years, and as the two older males in any animal group, sometimes we lashed out at each other. We are heading of tomorrow, with a combined desire to leave what happened in Romania, in Romania. Yes, it was the experience of a life time, in every way!
Beverley/Chantal please post on Facebook with photo :-) xxxx