For two years I was increasingly thinking to myself: what is the point? What is the point of doing a job I don’t enjoy, to pay for things I don’t need? January 2016 I realised that actually, my expertise from being an avid mountaineer (qualified Mountain Leader) with skills encompassing the outdoors, survival and proven resilience to adversity, meant that I was more suited than most to pursue a life of self-sustainability.
The research began as merely a thought experiment; if I could go anywhere in the world to be self-sustainable, where would I go? I like rainforests and mountains so looked at the tropics. I would be secluded which made predators a serious consideration so South America was decided as the apex animals there are scared of humans. I am not vegan or vegetarian but certainly in the beginning I would need to be animal product free for praticality, so when I looked at the diets of the Andean countries Ecuador seemed to have the highest percentage of flora consumed, implying both a strong ability for agriculture and a poverty that would make odd necessities cheaper.
So if I were to be self-sustainable in Ecuador, what would I need to know? I enjoy gardening but I certainly was not a farmer. I began reading sources on permaculture and closed-loop sufficiency (where no outside resources are bought in for farming). Soon this thought experiment became a tangible plausibility. I decided to go through with it.
My plans early in 2016 already ran in to problems however, as a result of a fundraiser I did. That February I auctioned my middle name for charity so that what ever suggestion the public made which received the most money I would legally change my name to – as a result my name is now Raymond Tinkerbell Talbot. I changed all my identification with every required organisation, a problem only occurring with Her Majesty’s Passport Office. They wanted me to prove there was no copyright infringement, then that there was no trademark infringement and only after six months of hoop jumping, solicitors and sarcastic letters did they provide me with a passport.
During this time my tenancy ran out so I became nomadic. I gave away all my possession and carried only what I needed for Ecuador as I went around the country visiting friends for the last time. On one trip to London I had some time before meeting with a friend so thought I would take a look around the Natural History Museum. At security I informed them that I was carrying everything for going to Ecuador, which included a machete that I asked to be stowed with my bag in the cloak room. An armed response team, a helicopter and an armoured police vehicle later Tinkerbell was arrested for “possession of a major public weapon in a public place”. At Charing Cross Police Station I was informed that out of the dozen-or-so other guests staying at their hospitality, I was in for the most serious crime but was also the nicest person – swings and roundabouts. After this I wild camped in the south of England for a month, foraging from the forest, before gaining work on an organic farm for three months for experience.
Now I am in Ecuador, volunteering on different farms to understand the techniques used in different climes for farming. I am making my way slowly north over months, following the Peruvian boarder, transitioning from Andean rainforests to Amazonian. I want to learn as much as possible, from as many as people as possible, in different climes and rainforests so that I can eventually decide where I would most like to settle. I have very little money, not even enough to fly back to the UK if I wanted to, so my travel between farms mostly involves hitchhiking, camping and foraging for food. Necessity drives innovation so I don’t doubt I will eventually work out how to acquire some land, but in the mean time I am getting a reputation as a hard worker and am welcome back to the farms, creating a safetynet net of rapport. One day I hope to relinquish money altogether, but for now I am doing odds jobs to pays for the odd things I need whilst I enjoy the mountains and rainforests.