We got a late start on what was our last day of walking. When our alarm went off at 2:30am we could hear rain and thunder so we went back to bed for an hour. By 3:30, the rain had stopped and we were up and on our way by 4:15 am.
The rain came and went as we walked but that meant that the temperatures were blissfully cool and at least there wasn’t any lightening. The morning before we actually had to take shelter in someone’s doorway because the lightening strikes were getting perilously close. Knowing that the ferry terminal was only 12 miles away, I was tearing it up. I don’t think that I walked that fast once on the entire trip.
Contrary to what we had expected, most of the walk on our last day was in the countryside. At some point we missed a turn onto an access road and instead of backtracking, we decided to walk through the weeds and banana trees to meet up with it. We soon discovered that an irrigation ditch full of murky water separated us from the road we were supposed to be on. I didn’t care one bit and marched right into the knee deep water. Doug followed and we both agreed that it wasn’t all that bad.
The last 2 and a half miles my pace slowed down considerably and overall it took us 5 and a half hour to walk what turned out to be 12.5 miles. But we did it! We missed the 9:00 am ferry but we were there in plenty of time to make the 11:00 ferry. I immediately took off my wet socks and used my hankerchief and copious amounts of Purel hand sanatizer to clean my blisters. Then I had a beer.
How do I even begin to describe what an amazing journey this has been? First, I need to thank Doug for sharing it with me. I don’t know any other man whom, when asked, “Want to walk across south western China with me?” would in a heartbeat say “Sure” and commit 100%. Doug, I love you so very much. Thank you for sharing this adventure with me. Thanks are also owed to my cousin Clare Martinet, who suggested that someone from our family finish Hippolyte’s walk. Thank you Clare. This experience has been life altering and has given me so many memories that I will hold dear for always. I also owe thanks to my cousins Artie, Thomas and Brian who conducted and compiled all of the research that so inspired me and helped connect me to generations of Martinet family that I never knew and never knew I missed.
Doug and I have been so blessed throughout this walk, both this summer and last. The outpouring of support, encouragement and interest we received here in China was phenomenal. Everything from the multitude of thumbs up gestures we got, bottles of cool water, bags of fresh fruit, free meals, offers of cash donations, medical help and a thousand smiles- they all helped us walk over 1,100 miles through the heat and the rain across a country of unparalleled beauty and generosity.
While on this walk, I was really hoping to have some sort of supernatural- spiritual experience where I would meet Hippolyte, this amazing great-great uncle of mine who for two years essentially put his life into the hands of strangers because he had faith in our collective humanity. That encounter with him was never realized. Hippolyte never emerged from the ether to meet his great great niece but perhaps that was never the point. Maybe the point was to have a reason to walk and the reward was that I got to witness something I had never expected to see. I never anticipated that there would be so much interest and enthusiasm for what we were doing. I could never have imagined that we would get so much support, encouragement and help from complete strangers. In the first weeks, I was moved to tears multiple times. People would read our cards and then look at us in astonishment and disbelief before huge grins would spread across their faces. Those expressions eased the aches in my feet and the sting in my blisters and gave me the energy to keep walking.
Once again I have found myself in a foreign country seeing news from back home. Yes, there are a handful of people in this world who do such disappointing things that it causes me pain. However, the vast majority of people are good and they care and they are people I am proud of. It can be difficult to remember and so easy to forget. We are good. Be good.
I’d like to offer my thanks and deepest gratitude to everyone who helped make this journey successful, including those of you who followed us our blog.
Micae and Doug