We felt compelled to add this section to the website, mainly because there is such a misconception about people who do things like Finding Manchester and we wanted to redress the balance. If we can do it, then quite frankly anybody can.
How on earth do you get to do something like that.
If I had my time again I’d do something like that.
I wouldn’t be brave enough to do something like that.
These are all things that people say to us and there’s only really one answer – If you want to do it then do it, it just comes down to choice. Everybody wants to live their life their way and they should have the choice to do so. Not everybody wants to explore distant horizons, or different cultures nor venture into the unknown, but for those who do, we only have one answer – If you want to do it then do it, it just comes down to your choice.
We have had the privilege to meet people who are riding motorbikes around the world well into their 70’s, we know people with severe disabilities who have crossed deserts under their own steam, and others who have set off on a journey alone only to get married, have children and continue on as a family. Anybody can do this kind of stuff if they really want to.
But it takes money, we hear you shout! Well, yes it does, but living carefully, shunning credit, and paid work goes a long way to addressing that issue. The minimum standard of living for a single person in the UK is approximately £14,000 per annum. We can testify that two people can explore the world for a year on far less and have the time of their lives.
But what if I don’t like it and I’ve given everything up? Put anything important in storage and budget for it. It’ll still be there when you get back.
But I’ll miss friends and family! Everyone gets homesick occasionally, but today it’s easy to stay in touch through the internet or even encourage them to come and meet you. They’ll have the time of their lives too.
There are hundreds of questions to be asked and they all need to be answered and you need to be happy with the answers, but the answers are out there to be had.
When we first started to explore the world it was with little more than a rucksack and a pocket full of travelers cheques. When we decided we wanted to cover more distance we took to a motorbike for three years. In that time we worked on a ranch in Texas, for a wildlife sanctuary surveying lagoon systems in Central America, managed a 5 star hotel and a bar in South America and led motorcycle tours for a UK adventure tour company. We’ve contributed to several books, staged high profile exhibitions and the list goes on. The truth is that we didn’t go looking for any of those things. The opportunity presented itself and we just went with the flow. We had never pulled a pint in our lives but it didn’t stop us managing a bar. We’d never taken blood from a manatee before, but we know how to do it now. In our experience, when you chase life you tend to find it. It doesn’t always go to plan but the adventure is in the unknown.
Finding Manchester is the result of nothing more than one thing leading to another. While riding a motorbike down a road in the middle of nowhere in Mexico we passed two other motorbikes heading in the opposite direction. They looked like they had been on the road for a while, just as we had. We both turned around and then spent the next hour chatting to two Germans about where they and been and where we had come from. They gave us an old map of the road ahead. Faded, torn and full of scribbles it stayed with us for the next eighteen months. One day, we were kneeling in the dust on the shores of Lake Titicaca on the border between Peru and Bolivia looking for a route around the northern side of the lake, wanting to avoid the tourist area of Puno. As we studied the tracks on the map and the Spanish sounding names of towns and villages further away from the lake, one name jumped out at us. It was Manchester!
Little did we know at the time, that three years later we would be standing on the banks of a remote river in the Bolivian Amazon, about to set off on a 79 day epic journey to find a forgotten village which we didn’t know still existed or not. Living off piranha and the few provisions we had, we did find the village, isolated from the world and in an idyllic part of the Amazon Jungle. It was a unique adventure born out of a conversation on the side of a road in Mexico. And what’s more, our two German strangers on the road are now firm friends too.
And from there the search for Manchester in Bolivia has now brought us to this point – 52 Manchesters in 52 weeks and across 5 continents. Of course it’s not quite as simple as all that. We have worked hard to learn the skills to become participatory photographers and oral history practitioners, and those skills have led to new challenges and experiences. Far more importantly, it has taken us to work with people all over the world to help them document their own lives in their own way to bring about positive social and environmental change. The bottom line is that you don’t have to come from a privileged background, have a lot of money or be well connected to do any of these things. But you do need to be determined and ready to embrace whatever you want out of life.
For anybody who has persevered to reach the bottom of this page, first of all – well done. Secondly, if you still have questions and you’re thinking of taking a different course in life, get in touch, ask a question and we’ll be happy to answer as best we can. And rest assured we’ve been asked some pretty interesting questions in our time, so don’t be shy.