Time to put your feet up? Not me, says Joyce

Joyce West "walking with lions" in Zimbabway

Joyce West "walking with lions" in Zimbabway - Credit: Archant

Retired Seaton woman walks with lions and goes canoeing on the Amazon

Joyce white water rafting down the Amazon River.

Joyce white water rafting down the Amazon River. - Credit: Archant

Years ago, conventional wisdom was that retirees would retire to their armchairs and put their feet up.

That was some time before Joyce West retired and adopted the new thinking, writes Maurice Blackburn.

With slight build and height to match, she does not immediately bring to mind the word ‘explorer’ yet, after her retirement, she decided to take on the challenge of the wilds of Peru and told her story to Axminster Probus Club at its February meeting.

Here, she joined a team of 12, mainly young, adventurers to spend a week canoeing on the headwaters of the Amazon, followed by a week of trekking on the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu, the deserted village 14,000 feet up in the Andes.


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A team of 24 porters, all acclimatised to height, carried the equipment and set up camp each day.

On the canoeing section Joyce’s daughter had capsized and suffered hypothermia but recovered in time to rejoin the expedition. However, the cold of the dry season proved too much for most of the young people, who transferred to warmer climes. Joyce, determined to continue, ploughed on for the final week to take part in the white-water section.

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A film following the talk, showing the extreme conditions on the rapids, persuaded most of the members that she had to be slightly mad even to consider the idea. If she was indeed a little mad it has remained with her as she has since taken up a series of way-out adventures! Her next report is eagerly awaited.

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