“Nothing has changed!” I tell the new head mistress, “but the ceilings seem a bit lower”, as we stroll these small, colourfully decorated corridors which looked so spacious thirty years ago!
We may have finished the running part, but “Running South America” continues back on home shores as we visit our former schools (and others who have followed us through the “BigToe” Classroom) to share our adventure and passion for the natural world. During the run itself we provided many ad hoc presentations with schools we passed on the road, and we discovered it was the perfect tonic for weary legs. Rather than a drain on energy, we found we had to lift ourselves from the running of endless miles, and having fun with the kids who loved our trailer and identifying their native wildlife really enthused us for the remaining distance!
At home, too, we have thoroughly enjoyed meeting such open and fertile minds. We talk about the running adventure, show videos and try to get the kids to celebrate wild places both here and abroad. We answer their curious questions (and listen attentively as their question turns out to be a rambling but sweet little story!). We encourage an increasingly “indoors” generation to get outside and see what amazing things they’ll find – running, playing, seeking, watching – all of which we hope will build their connection to our remaining wild places.
I would recommend all adventurous people to take a chance to re-visit the schools where they were taught, and to give something back to our future leaders. It is impossible to strictly quantify the effect it has, but we feel it’s a worthy investment to try and foster a respect for the wildlife and wildernesses upon which they depend (and I have a feeling they may remember the snakes and guanacos in the video at least!).