For those of you only know one of us, or don’t know either of us, let me introduce Josh.
First impressions are important. He was wearing head to toe green fleece, and jandals. The exact same outfit as his offsider standing beside him. Each removed their green fleece beanie to reveal a crew cut, making them look quite rough. Countering this were foot wide smiles stretching from ear to ear. They looked like a cross between the Muppets Statler and Waldorf and Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket. Even for a tramping club, their look stood out.
Josh gave a good spiel about his tramping trip which led me to believe he would be a bit of a laugh, and I duly approached him to see whether he would take me. Unfortunately, there were 5 people trying to get on a trip that had 4 spaces. Josh narrowed down the field by asking if anyone had any dietary requirements. One girl said she was a vegetarian. This was too much effort for Josh who immediately gave the trip places to the rest of us. The look of anger and shock on the vegetarian international student as she walked away is still imprinted in my mind. I know that Josh still feels bad about this incident, and I can safely say he is now significantly more open minded than me. Fast forward 7 years and Josh is now a vegan, and like all vegans, you’ll know he is a vegan because he will tell you that he is a vegan.
On a trip from London to Mongolia via Central Asia in a very small, very rubbish car, there is a long list of terrible things that could go wrong. Breakdowns, running out of fuel, corrupt officials, theft, being taken hostage, car accidents, bites from rabid animals, or getting lost. However, it is the thought of being in Uzbekistan, walking the streets for hours trying to find vegan food for Josh that scares me the most, and despite assurances from him that he will go hungry if there are no other options, I am not entirely reassured.
Josh does however have many redeeming features; namely, he is the most positive person I have ever met. For example, if you ever found yourself in an inflatable toy boat in the middle of Milford Sound, and that boat began sinking and you had no life jacket and were about to lose your pack with every piece of outdoor gear that you owned to the sea, Josh would be the person who would put a positive spin on it. “Isn’t this a beautiful place to die” he would say.
After our first tramping trip, Josh and I did many more trips; these usually involved some sort of bizarre adventure. Trips such as crossing Milford Sound in a leaky inflatable toy boat, or climbing to the top of a mountain dressed as 1920s golfers. Josh is the kind of friend who will always be there for you if you need help and has the ability to put a smile on your face no matter how dire a situation. I’m lucky to have such a good friend, and am stoked to be driving 20,000km with him in a tiny car.