In this issue, new Defender is put through its paces by two inspirational young adventurers as they prepare for an expedition to the South Pole. We also celebrate 50 years of Range Rover by taking a journey of discovery to Dubai. As well as looking back, we look to future as a group of visionaries explain the technologies that could change the future for all of us.
She squatted to catch
She squatted to catch her breath, leaning on her hiking pole whenever the dizziness took over. Walking to the hot springs at Lares was always going to be hard – there was about a quarter less oxygen in the air here than her body was used to – but the walking staved off her loneliness. She practised taking steady, deep breaths. She had come too far for the very air to make her give up now. Her mind was made up, and the way forward was crystal clear to her. She would walk away from her prescribed future, to a quiet, anonymous existence. The narrow road ran deep into the mountains, and back in time. Houses built from recycled Inca stone dotted the landscape, the faces of their inhabitants as arduously carved by the weather as the desert landscapes and glacial peaks. Each step was conquest, each laboured breath awareness. The Andes were teaching her to slow down. At the edge of her thoughts, Yoonie felt a presence. She looked around, tightening her grip on her pole. Hiking alone before sunrise wasn’t entirely safe, but she had played safe all her life. But each time she turned around, there was only the teasing wind and the muscle of the mountain moving beneath her feet. The temperature dropped with each switchback. She exchanged her breath for a vast freedom, like the Andes shedding the tree line. Then, a rustle from the bushes. A bounding flash of golden fur. A warm, heavy canine body. Legs entangled. Her flight across, into, the dirt road. Blue sky. Dust dancing. Buzzing. A scraping warmth across her face revived her. The Labrador gazed down at her, its floppy ears framing large friendly eyes and the wet black muzzle coaxing her back to reality. Then Yoonie saw the man behind the dog. Lean, muscled. Grey-brown eyes sharp yet distant. “You need to keep your dog under control,” she snapped, smarting from the tumble. “It’s not mine. Must be a local stray,” he responded nonchalantly. “Need a hand?” “No, no,” she replied, propping herself up on her elbows. “I’m fine.” “It’s dangerous to hike alone, you know,” he said, in a tone that was equal parts concern and paternal condescension. His expression was self-contained, perfectly balanced. It irritated her. “I’m walking to Lares.” She rose to her feet so he could no longer look down at her. “Then I’ll continue trekking, to Machu Picchu.” He nodded. “Same route as me, then. Name’s Jacob.” She hesitated. “I’m Yoonie.” “Maybe you should turn back,” he said finally. “You know, the altitude. The mountain air takes a while to get used to.” She paused. “I like feeling myself breathe. Why aren’t you bussing it to Lares, like everyone else?” she countered. “I don’t have much money,” he said. “Then why travel?” “Why not?” he shot back. “It’s a big world out there. I’m doing my best to see a bit of it.” “It is big, the world,” she said. “Though sometimes it feels a little too small.” “That’s a funny thing to say,” he said, “at any age.” “Is that your way of asking me how old I am?” she mocked. “I’m not a pick-up artist,” he said, serious. “I saw you trip over, and had to check on you.” She must have looked skeptical. Jacob adjusted his pack. “You’ve got food, water?” “I’ve got everything I need,” she said. “Miss,” he nodded and moved on, swiftly becoming a speck on the sinuous road. The Labrador kept her company, its tail beating time against her leg, as if urging her along to Lares before darkness fell. The temperature had plummeted, and the wind froze her hair to her cheeks. She arrived in Lares on trembling legs. She missed her guide, the Labrador that had squeezed out of her embrace and disappeared into a home on the edge of the village. She stepped into the thermal pool’s curling steam and soaked until the water seemed to melt away a part of her, then all of her. Voices floated in and out. She resented the tourists and their small talk, their identical stories. People had so much to say to each other. What happened when they ran out of words, ran out of love? They became her mother and father, she thought. The minivan driver was falling asleep behind the wheel, Yoonie was sure of it. Two hours to Santa Teresa on a ILLUSTRATIONS: CALVIN SPRAGUE. AUTHOR PORTRAIT: MATT DOUMA one-way lane of switchbacks and, as the Andes darkened into outlines and the sky brightened into stars, the driver’s eyelashes fell against his cheekbone. Yoonie pictured the minivan tipping over the crumbly cliff edge, into a canyon so deep the only witnesses would be wild vicuna. Her passing would not even be marked with one of the tinselled tombstones that lined the mountain passes. A death not of her choosing, mimicking a life not of her choosing. She kept her hand half-raised, vigilant, so she could jerk the wheel back if needed. Never mind that the old woman behind her had loosened the straps of her bright hat, placed it over her face and dozed off. But the Apus, the mountain spirits, must have been keeping watch over them. Santa Teresa arrived without incident. The next morning, she boarded the shuttle bus at the base of Machu Picchu. As it wound its way up a mountain where lurid tropical flowers and iridescent birds sparkled amidst the deep green, she could feel herself succumbing to the mysterious, magnetic pull of this wild, inhospitable landscape, all thundering river and eternal cliff faces. A dozen languages surrounded her in the queue up the stairs, where passports and tickets were examined. Tourists crested up and down the granite steps, fixated on taking photos that would live forever in the cloud, like the ruins they captured. But Yoonie stared intently ahead, hungering for life, for the freedom shimmering always just ahead of her. But more mundanely, also at the woman selling bottles of water. Lugging a backpack, stuffed with all the worldly possessions she’d opted not to leave behind in Boston was thirsty work. She dug out some coins and headed over. A familiar face caught the corner of her eye. She stared. “What are the chances?” she said dryly. “Oh,” Jacob’s smile was surprised. “Near miracle.” She analysed him more carefully this time. He had a clipped manner that she hadn’t noticed during their first encounter, and his taut stance stood out from the milling tourists. The body of an athlete, she thought once again. Or a fighter. “It must be fate,” Yoonie said, staring at him intently. “Well, if you’re going to follow me, you might as well be useful…” She took off her backpack and thrust it at him with a wicked smile. “Try to keep up!” she said, turning away from a bemused Jacob, and headed up the path, to the ancient city that seemingly floated in mid-air, surrounded by rippling blue mountain shadows. A journey of water channels, temples and terraced fields, built by ancient engineers who understood the silence of beauty, and the beauty of silence. The narrow trails were crowded with admiration, but Yoonie flowed against the human current, turning left, then right, and upwards, towards the sun temple. Someone called her name. Maybe it was the wind. She finally stopped at a terraced clearing, and waited for him to catch up. “I didn’t know it’d be so busy up here, I thought it was the low season,” she said to him. “I wanted to disappear. No, I wanted to be nowhere.” “Peru isn’t nowhere,” he said. “Look, I know why you’re here,” she said, her voice resolute. He looked puzzled. A flicker of alarm in his eyes? “You’re not very good at your job,” she said calmly. Jacob stood up, wearing a confused expression. Was his name even Jacob? Probably not. “In fact, I’d say you’re pretty terrible at being a spy.” He looked at her squarely, all pretence cast to the wind. “With due respect, Miss Park, I’m an executive protection professional, and you’ve put yourself at some risk, disappearing off on your own.” “Well, Mr Bodyguard, you can tell my father, I’m not going back.” An uncomfortable pause. “What do you plan to do next?” he said finally. “I’ll keep going.” Until Patagonia. Then the ocean beckoned. “And I suppose you’ll try to follow me?” “They’ll come for you, Miss Park. They seem very determined.” She knew this all too well. But people disappeared all the time – erased and redrew themselves, like scribbles in the sand. It shouldn’t be difficult for a girl to vanish in a whole continent, an entire hemisphere, should it? First, all she had to do was lose Jacob. Yoonie looked past him – standing there, suddenly bereft of purpose – and gazed at the sky. The white clouds rolled past, unrelenting, shape-shifting. At least, today was still hers. This breath, and the next. Hers. 70 71
Land Rover Magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go Above and Beyond.
In this issue, New Defender is put through its paces by two inspirational young adventurers as they prepare for an expedition to the South Pole. We also celebrate 50 years of Range Rover by taking a journey of discovery to Dubai. As well as looking back, we look to future as a group of visionaries explain the technologies that could change the future for all of us.