When far away is closer to home than one thinks…..
I have two special friends in Taiwan, who over the years, have painted a vivid picture of their surroundings via regular emails. Both are celebrating their birthdays this week and celebrations have included a trip to Taipei, I decided to pay a visit to the library’s travel section. The book I was looking for, was not available but another caught my eye.
Every now and then, I discover a book that for some reason blows my mind. The inscription on the spine was not easy to read for a spectacle in-betweener (I’m at the now-I-need-them, then-I-don’t stage) but this book in larger format than its neighbours and vivid red dust jacket was calling for closer inspection. I felt its weight, saw the minimalistic design and as I gently brushed my hand over the front cover I read:
courage and rice
my journey along the great wall of China
Instinctively, I knew I had found gold.
When this happens I always react in exactly the same way.
My visit to the library is cut short immediately. I go to the counter and pray that someone has not placed the book in the lending section by mistake, then I head directly back home, clear a table, place the book and then walk by for a day or two, glancing at the cover and when the time is just right, I savour the moment when I turn the first page
“……..go out and live your dreams
conquer life’s walls….”
I turn another page
“I dedicate this book to my children……..”
Then on the next page lay the most wonderful surprise
Courage and Rice
first published in South Africa in 2007 by David Grier
Suddenly, forgotten news headlines with forgotten names, which had been filed away in my memory, surfaced as I read:
” Life is measured by achievements, accolades and awards, but the most important aspect of any achievement is the journey along the way…….. This is the story of how this journey changed my life. I have created a story like a string of pearls. the common thread that holds it together is the record of our run along the Great Wall”
I had heard of the guy who had decided to take on this enormous challenge. Some of my friends have seen parts of the Great Wall of China far far away and shared their experiences of this distant land but taking this journey page by page, the Great Wall felt much closer to home.
I diverted from my normal pattern and turned to the last pages, something I rarely do.
” As I go through life, I look back at friendships that have been meaningful and lasting, not one-sided, but genuine in all aspects. These friendships are rare and are to be valued. there were many times in my life that I was aware of friendships that were one sided and felt that I was being used but I let them ride”
And then, as if specially for Andre, who loves cooking, the very last pages of the book contain recipes: deep-fried fish with sweet and sour sauce; peking duck recipe; ma po tofu; kung pao chicken stir fried egg and tomato.
“I tasted noodles made from potato flour, tofu, rice flour, wheat and many other inventive ingredients in all shapes and sizes…..”
But I could not experiment with recipes before starting out on page one and doing the whole journey from Africa to China.
David Grier, inspirational speaker, celebrity chef and extreme adventurer and Braam Malherbe became the first people ever to run the entire length of the Great Wall of China in a single attempt.
In October 2006, they accepted the first Cipla Miles for Smiles Foundation challenge: to run the length of the Great Wall of China in one attempt. Running, climbing and sometimes crawling, they completed the 4800 in 98 days.
The Cipla Miles for Smiles Foundation was formed to assist Operation Smile in creating awareness for the plight of children born with cleft lips and palates and raise funds to perform corrective surgery on them.
The foundation has a fundamental aim, to inspire and challenge individuals to go out and make a difference in the lives of those around them, by challenging themselves to achieve the impossible and by doing so make a difference.
quotes by David Grier
photos © David Grier
Hope In Thyme – Running the coastline of South Africa
Burnt Vanilla – A paddle to and journey through Madagascar
Spices Tea and Philosophy -“My run from north to south across India”