Ed Stafford, who after 640 days is still walking along the Amazon River from its source to its mouth, is wrestling with a dilemma in the New Year. It's one faced by many employers in these credit-crunched times. In his latest blog entitled ‘The hardest New Year's resolution ever?', he explains what's been troubling him in the past few weeks.
Cho and I walk with our clothes soaked to our bodies with sweat. We break for ten minutes each hour and habitually wring out out tops – that’s as dry as they get all day. They then get used as rags to wipe the jungle grit and grime from the back of our necks and the crooks of our elbows. We sit on our packs and exchange exhausted glances.
Above us, through the forest canopy, the dark sky groans as the afternoon draws on. Raindrops are refreshing in the high humidity but the regular precipitation also means that the rivers are now swollen and inflamed. Their discharge is steadily seeping into the lower-lying varzea forest – but only so much as to give us wet boots at present – we are still making good progress.
Everyone following the blog for a while now knows that we’ve been very short of cash due to our main sponsor having cash flow problems.
Everyone also knows that Cho, a Peruvian forestry worker, has been walking with me for fifteen of the twenty one months that I’ve been walking.
What many people don’t know is that Cho represents over half the cost of the expedition. His wages, accommodation, resupplies, food, clothing and transport will cost me a further £7,000 at least by the time we finish. That’s in addition to the £5,300 that I owe him in wages to date.
The debate has been smashing plates and clashing pans in my head for weeks now: if I send Cho home now I may just have enough money to complete the expedition solo. If he stays – even if I can borrow more money – I get VERY irresponsibly into debt – and could jeopardise everything we’ve worked so hard for.
Cho knows about my financial problems and that I’ve considered sending him home. That’s the last thing he wants.
Sentimentally its easy: I keep him and we struggle on together whatever – but should I let sentiment get in the way of logical expedition tactics? Should I not be using my head rather than my heart?
The last eight months that lies ahead through the Brazilian Amazon is the part that Sir Rannulph Fiennes described as “more difficult” – and I’d be attempting it completely on my own. That’s a challenge that leaves me somewhat apprehensive.
Its not an easy one – but I need to make a decision soon. Can I afford not to give up Cho?
Ed Stafford is walking the Amazon for five charities, including The ME Association's Tissue Bank Appeal. If you would like to make a secure online donation to the appeal, please click on the box below: