News from our two ME Association explorers

March 18, 2009

Latest news from ME Association adventurers in far-flung parts of the world – our ambassador-on-a- bike ERIC SMART rested at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Kashmir after pedalling his first 7,000 miles, and ED STAFFORD has entered Columbia in his bid to be the first person ever to walk along the Amazon River from the source to the sea.


Last week, Eric caused quite a scare back home in Aberdeen, Scotland, when his parents filed a Missing Persons Report when they had not heard from him for 10 days while he was cycling through troubled Pakistan. For most of his journey through the Punjab, it was revealed that he had travelled with a police escort.

In a message filed in the route-marker section of his blog, he now reports:

"End of day 314 on the road. 45 miles cycled today (7050 miles in total). Rested here 2 days before heading on towards Delhi on 16 Mar. Unlucky day for some but good for me. I have my liberty back! A little fragile and stressed but happy. My last two policemen were lovely and I ate in their home before crossing the border. Need time to reflect on Pakistan experience.

"Total miles cycled in Pakistan 723. Driven approx 140 miles!

Resting at the Golden Temple. A beautiful calming place.

India – Country Number 11 !!"

Eric is cycling from Aberdeen to Adelaide in south Australia to raise money for the ME Association, hoping to reach his destination in April next year.  This afternoon, his fundraising total has reached a fabulous £ 7,678.77.

If you would like to make a donation, please visit Eric's online fundraising page.


Ed, from Leicester and son of MEA trustee Ba Stafford, is walking from the source of the Amazon in Peru to its mouth in Brazel, to raise money for six charities, including the MEA's project to fund an ME tissue bank in a UK hospital. In his latest blog, he writes that he has reached the Columbian border with his guides:

"The river mapping using the GPS worked well for six days and we advanced 45km in that time. From a community called Platanal we hired a Yawa guide Vicente, broke from the Atiquiari River, and headed directly East to Colombia.

"We took 6 days of food and knew that we would be relying heavily on Vicente’s knowledge of the paths. He was great for 2 days but then reached a part where he had not been before. He didn’t want to go any further so we pushed on without a local guide with an incredibly minimal amount of information towards the border.

"Our 1:1 million scale map showed none of the smaller rivers and we knew that the communities that it showed were grossly inaccurate. We needed to find “Tierra Amarillo” and so we hazarded a guess that it was on the Loreteyacu River just upstream of the border. We actually had two different lines where the border might be, the GPS and the map giving locations that differed by 7km.

"Then, just as we were in a position where we were heavily reliant on the GPS, it decided to die. It had water inside and none of the controls worked. So we headed on a compass bearing to a point where we all thought the community, and the Colombian border, would be.

"Sometimes you need a bit of luck and at 4pm on our fourth day from Platanal we heard music and soon stumbled out into a party that was being held in Tierra Amarillo. Everyone was very friendly (and half drunk) except one woman who warned the rest that I would steal their heads. I promised her I wouldn’t.

"There was a police border outpost there too and the mestiso policemen who do 6-month stints here seemed thrilled to have some guests. No matter how bedraggled.

"So we’ve finished the Peruvian leg. 11 months and 13 days. Cho and I are shattered and needed a rest and time to dry out our sores and parasites. There is no passport control at the point at the border where we had arrived so we’ve extracted to Leticia to enter Colombia legally, stamp our passports, speak to the military, try and borrow some decent maps off them, and then we have about three weeks in Colombia to the Brazilian border.

"Everyone says that the area we are about to go through is a big drugs trafficking route and very dangerous. I have a hunch the jungle is so flooded at the moment that the drugs traffickers have more sense than us and are tucked up in their homes knitting and doing the ironing until the waters drop. Lets hope so."

So far Ed has raised a magnificent  £ 5,119.40.

If you would like to make a donation to the MEA Tissue Bank Project, please visit Ed's online fundraising page.



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