Published on April 6th, 2012 | by Daniel Boyle0
British Man Martin Hutchinson walks from Mexico to Santiago
Martin Hutchinson has spent the past five and a half years walking throughout South and Central America. After buying a cheap plane ticket and arriving in Cancun, he thought he would hitchhike his way towards South America. Through all the countries he found “Chile and Ecuador had the friendliest people”. Walking throughout the continent is a way to discover the entire continent from the ground and Martin has seen the wide variety that South America has to offer. Walking between 30 and 80 kilometers each day, the former fire fighter from Manchester has zig-zagged his way through the various countries.
After seeing a sign saying he had already walked 22 kilometers out of Cancun, he thought this could be a nice way to travel. The days turned into months and the months into years. He has now covered 21 countries in his travels and is sharing a message about a more simple way of life and taking care of the planet.
The English walker has carried his backpack and a British flag to identify himself. “Going through Argentina with a British flag was an experience” he told me. After eventually getting clearance to cross the border from Paraguay to Argentina with a military escort, he went to various media organizations to tell his story. “I was interested in seeing the reactions of people. I didn’t have too much trouble, some people were interested in the story of an Englishman.”
Throughout his travels, Martin has met a wide variety of people – some friendly, and some not so pleasant. “Two men attacked me with an axe in Brazil, trying to get my camera.”
“People have been exceptionally friendly, very generous. They welcome you into their house without a second thought. That’s the first thing they do, invite you in. You can be walking along the beach and someone will come and tell you lunch is ready. I really enjoy Chile, it’s incredible. The attitude to give. The giving is not so important”
Mr. Hutchinson has always had an adventurous spirit. “I’ve been around the world travelling, that’s what the world is for. I seek experiences. The more experiences you have, makes you more of a whole person. For example now I have gone to schools or gone on television to share my story.” The fifty year old hopes his world view comes across as a mature outlook. He says “We can change things, we can make it better.”
“When you walk you question everything you’ve done. The walking has given me time to think and question myself. I enjoy my own time, the solitude, walking is a fantastic way for the body to work. When your body works well, your mind works well too.”
While immersing yourself at the ground level can be a good way to improve your Spanish, Martin told me “I have only reach a level just above basic, as most people ask the same questions – where do I sleep, what do I eat, then they are satisfied. Many people just don’t have the curiosity. If you have the word slightly off, then they can’t comprehend what you are saying. I learn more from watching people’s actions. Actions don’t lie. What my eyes see are more important to me.”
South America was Martin’s final continent to visit. “I’ve never spent this much time in any other continent. I think all my travels have helped me here. I think I have saved the best to last as it was going to be the place I would spend longest in.” He has visited all the countries throughout the region. He has experienced the people, gold mines, jungles, desert, extreme heat and extreme cold and many pairs of boots.
“There’s enough for everybody out there, we need to take a step back and look at what we need. The world is developing so fast now. We demand so much. We demand electricity but don’t want power plants; we demand clothes but don’t want the factories. We need to slow down and relax, spend some time in the park just sitting down and relaxing.”
I’m fifty now, things are starting to wear thin. I would like to walk for five more years. I don’t want to give any time or date, I could continue or I could call it off tomorrow. I’ll look for the next adventure; you never know what it is.”
Martin has been going to schools, universities and media organisations to share his story. It was seeing a river filled with plastic waste in Bolivia that made him beginning sharing his message further. Before that, various newspapers and television stations had found out about his story and got in touch. Martin keeps a scrapbook of all the articles and other souvenirs from his journey.
Martin Hutchinson will return to Santiago in September. He is interested in sharing his story. If you are interested more in his story get in touch with Martin – firstname.lastname@example.org
“Once you’ve done it (the big walk), it’s not so important anymore, it’s much more important for me now to go and spread this message of helping to save the environment.” Martin also wished to express his sincere gratitude to the Los Vilos Bomberos who gave him great assistance before he arrived in Santiago.
This post originally appeared on I Love Chile.