A grandmother one month into a solo kayak journey from Maine to Guatemala said her ambitious "soul-restoring experience" is so far "easier than I thought."
Deborah Walters, 63, embarked
last month from Yarmouth on her 2,500-mile voyage, which she hopes will raise money to combat devastating poverty in the capital of Guatemala, where she'll arrive next May.
Walters has now traveled the coastlines of two states for 168 miles. While she still wishes she trained harder before launching, she said that the trip has been easier than she expected.
And after just three weeks, Walters has raised nearly $58,000 — 40 percent of her $150,000 fundraising goal.
She enjoys kayaking with other people and finds paddling alone a "soul-restoring experience."
"I feel a stronger connection to the sea and land," she said.
Still, the grandmother has already encountered a few obstacles. Her biggest challenge, she said, is her small presence in the water.
Traveling through the Hampton Harbor last month, Walters was the catch of the day, when her kayak was hooked on a fisherman’s line. While she found humor in her unexpected reel-in, she advises that kayakers stay alert, since people in boats can't always see small vessels like hers.
She also faced some navigation problems, and noticed her compass was not matching her map. The magnetism of the device was thrown off, she said, because she had been storing it directly over her spare batteries.
So far, Walters has camped out for just two of her 22 nights en route, instead spending most nights in the homes of host families and volunteers along her route. She describes her journey as a “Forrest Gump kind of experience."
“It is not a solo trip," she said.
She also updates her blog
and posts online daily.
"I am spending as much time paddling as I am online," she said.
Walters was ahead of schedule and arrived in Boston early last week, despite her unexpected detour. She plans to visit
New York City between Sept. 15 and 17.
Walters' trek is a journey nine years in the making.
It began when she first visited the Guatemala City dump and witnessed the dire living conditions of the poor families in the surrounding community there.
She began volunteering for Safe Passage, a nonprofit organization that makes it possible for Guatemalan children to attend school, and decided to travel 2,500 miles down the coast, stopping along the way to share the story of the children.
“You’re never too old to do something amazing for other people,” she said.