EXPLORE 2014, i.e. when the Royal Geographical Society gets excited
EXPLORE2014 (14-16 November) is over and I’m happy to have attended the weekend. As the main event of the Royal Geographical Society, EXPLORE gathers heaps of proteinaceous people of different forms, hairstyles, sexes and philosophies of life. Exploration, expeditions, fieldwork: everything is on the table ready for being consumed by all sort of adventure-famished creatures. During the weekend I explored a lot. First of all, my lunchbox. Crazy stuff: honey, pork, and cuscus (also delicious, I must admit). Cookies were so-so and coffee not bad at all – and coffee, as every biologist would claim, is what keeps you alive.
I had no idea of what to expect from the event. I just went there accompanied by my silly secret project (sorry, I’ll keep it that way for a little bit longer) and I found a hard-boiled inspirational atmosphere. If you are among those who imagine the Royal Geographical Society as a dusty place populated by pipe-smoking bearded men, well, be aware that the reality is quite the opposite: the institution is vibrant and full of life, and if you smoke the pipe on their premises they’ll take you down (a lot of bearded men, though – some things never change). Anyway, just to give you an idea of what you might undergo if you decide to attend the next meeting, here we go with three emblematic moments:
- OK, now talk to the attendee next to you! Yes, it’s all about relationships. In her passionate introduction, Shane Winser (Geography Outdoors Manager) had the malevolent idea to invite everybody to chat for 60 seconds to the person sitting next to you. What did I get? A graceful lady looking forward to becoming expedition leader.
- Into the Dragon’s den. Shameless (or courageous) people presented their projects before five well-experienced explorers. The ‘dragons’ offered an immediate assessment of the project – which, in more than one occasion, sounded like ‘cut the crap and move forward’.
- The saddest 15 minutes. Two guys made a video of their attempt to trek across the ice cap in Greenland. The video is interesting because it narrates a failure: the brave men didn’t make it, but had the honesty to realise a short documentary and tell what went wrong (unbearable audio though).
Expect the unexpected, but above all… be prepared for it!