Articles Blog

Walking Alone in the Wilderness: A Story of Survival (Part 2) | Nat Geo Live

Walking Alone in the Wilderness: A Story of Survival (Part 2) | Nat Geo Live

Why I’m here today,
talking to you, here, in this amazing special place? It’s because of a slug story. Basic slug story, you
know how those stories go? You know, I couldn’t
have my pocket money when I was a kid. Grow up in Switzerland. Picture this. This white peak, green field,
with nice little chalet. Can you see that? Yeah. Well it’s not there. It’s up north, foggy, raining, the most jobless
area in Switzerland. You usually never get
away from that place. I live in a tiny village,
it’s a dead end road. There’s nothing after that. You feel like you are
at the end of the world. And I grew up there. I’m from there. And I’ve got two brothers,
one older, one younger. And I keep going back
to my father, saying, “I need some pocket
money, give me money.” He said, “no way you’re
going to get money.” Anyway, I annoyed him so
much, that one day he said, “okay, we make a deal.” I’ve got the garden
full of slugs. You collect 100 slugs,
and I give you $1. Mmm. Interesting. I spend all my time in the
garden when it was raining, because those slugs were
coming out when it was raining. Collect all those
slugs, 600 I needed. And what I will
do with those $6? I will run in town, and
buy National Geographic. I was seven years old. So tonight, it’s the
first presentation that I do here, in
National Geographic DC, and I’m really proud
to talk to you tonight. It’s really something
deep in my heart. This is the example
that dreams come true, because I want,
as a little girl, to travel to those
weird, incredible places. So I spent my childhood
in the forest. I had this amazing
guidebook, bird book. On the front page there was
this beautiful blue bird, with a bit of red and
yellowish thing on the back. But they forgot to tell me
that it was not in Europe and not in my country. So I spent all my
childhood in the woods, looking for that bird. My parents were quite happy
I was in the woods somewhere, looking for birds. Anyway, I took my
revenge on this one. And I would like to invite
you with me tonight, we’re going to be starving,
it’s going to be hot, you’re going to see
snakes, and crocodiles. Welcome to Dropped
Into the Wild Corner. My most recent expedition. My concern was, how we
going to feed the world today? Because I was in China, I
saw all these Chinese people, build houses like, really
high, a lot of people in the same room. And I thought, how
we going to do this? How we going to keep using
the planet that way? I was concerned about, it’s
going to be somebody hungry in this world, in some ways,
in some times, coming up. How we going to do this? So, I decided to
take on a journey. I wanted to understand
how we can do this. Go back to the roots, at the
time of the gather and hunter. Yes, I will find my own
food, on my own terms, following the Aboriginal people,
that have been doing this for 60,000 years. So. But, as usual. Expeditions really start
when things go wrong. And start to be really going
wrong at the first minute of the expedition. So, I learned in a little
town, on the northwest corner of Australia, called Kununurra. Word like that long. It’s a weird town,
where you’ve got cowboy, Aboriginal people, mining
people, all mixed together. Arrive there with a
little airplane, land, and I open my phone, my dear
friend supposed to be there, helping me for one month to go
and check all my techniques, surviving techniques
that I’ve been learning over the years. Included really technical
fishing techniques. And I received this lovely
text, it was saying, “Sorry darling,
I can’t make it.” I was like, “What?!” We’ve been planning
this for a year, what?! And I tried to call
him like 55 times, never answered the phone. And I called my team
back in Switzerland and I said, hey guys,
how we going to do this? And my assistant was
getting agitated. Sarah, my god, you have to
leave in four weeks time, how we going to do this? I said, you know darling, when things get
agitated like that, there’s only one option. I’m going to drink coffee. You know, in nature,
when there is a danger, and there is
something so intense, animals just stop and froze. I’m just going to stop and
froze and drink coffee until I see a sign
in front of me. That’s it. And I can hear my assistant,
“you are crazy darling.” I did that. Stop in a coffee shop,
drink for five hours. The night went down,
I took my little car, went to find my
accommodation that night. I booked a room in the farm, and this lady, received
me, she was waiting for me, and she just walked out of
the door of the property. She had a designer dress on. Pink dress, beautiful,
hair done, makeup on. I was like, what?! I’m in the remotest location
in the bush in Australia, and she’s wearing
this kind of thing? I thought, this woman
never going to help me, not this one. Went to bed. Anyway, the next morning
she knock on my door, and she say, “Sarah, do you
want to have coffee with me?” Say, “lovely, yeah.” Why not? Anyway, we had
coffee, and she said, “what brings you here, darling?” Say, “well, I’m coming to walk.” I try not to deliver too many
information at the same time, because usually I get
arrested before I do anything. So, I learned my lesson in
China when I get arrested by Special Forces, I
learned my lesson in Laos when the drug dealer arrest me, I learned my lesson in
Mongolia when Mongol man ran through my camp every
night tried to steal my stuff. So, yeah, I was hoping
to do some walking. And she said, she
jumped on her seat, really literally
jumped, and she said, well, I just come
back from Europe. I did the Camino, in Europe. I was like, what?! She was a walker. Anyway, she said, you
want some brownie? I said, “of course I
want some brownie.” She got some fresh brownie
coming from the oven, I said, “yes, let’s
have some brownie.” We start chatting, like
two women can chat. And she said,
“don’t worry, wait.” She took the phone, make
like five phone calls. She said, “okay, you’ve got a
meeting tomorrow with this one,” “then a coffee at
four with this one,” “dinner with this one.” I said who is this woman? You will see, go, I don’t
have time to come with you, but you’ll manage. Anyway, in a weeks time,
I made this networking of powerful women in this town. The lawyer of the town,
the doctor of the town, I had all of them
under my wings. And they pushed me, and helped
me to rebuild my expedition. Reroute completely
my expedition, restart from scratch. And four weeks later,
I was ready to go. But everybody, that
I was talking to, having the same
conversation over and over, was saying to me,
it’s a drought year. There is not enough
water in the bush, you will not be able to survive. Everybody was saying that. And you know, when people
are always got this opinion about my expedition. They look at me, they judge me, they look at me and they say, “What this blondie-thing hair, “she’s not good
for these things.” Anyway, I thought,
maybe this time, I better listen a little bit. And I decided to do a test. And before, I wanted to spend some time with
Aboriginal people. That’s how I met Juju. In a center, it’s a
full-blood Aboriginal woman. Really important woman
in her community. And, the young people around
her is the new generation. They’re the kids of her sister. So, you can see the pure
blood, it’s really rare to find some pure-blood
Aboriginal these days. And we went on a tour
together, in the bush. We spent some time in the bush, and she will give
me some tricks. But she will not give
me all the tricks. She didn’t know that I know. She didn’t know that I have
been preparing these things for 20 years. So she will give me the
tricks, but not all of it. She will give me the
wrong plant to look for. Not the good ripe ones, she
will give me the young one, where there was
nothing to eat there. And I was wondering, the
more I spent time with her, what’s going on here? Why she doesn’t give
me the full trick? Is it because she feel
like I don’t own my path through her land? Or it is because she
don’t want me to get hurt and go back home? I didn’t know what
she was thinking. I didn’t know what everybody
was thinking, really. I decided to do a test. And I just did that. I went in the bush, get
dropped with a little plane, walked for seven days,
and discovered exactly what they were talking about. There was not enough food there. They were right, actually. So, I decided to take
a Plan B with me, I decided to take 150
grams of flour per day as a Plan B. If things go wrong. So I looked like that. It’s a little flat bread, and I wonder today if
it was a good idea. Because you know, when
you’ve got, in your pack, food, you so starving but
you’re not allowed to touch it. It’s like having the
fridge full of food, and you in a diet. Can’t touch it. It was horrible. But I desired to
do this that way. So let’s go, we’re going to get
dropped with a helicopter northwest of Australia. Precisely there,
there’s nobody there. It’s empty land, no
human, it’s for me. So, get dropped there
with the helicopter, the pilot said to me, “Are
you sure you want to get “dropped here?
There’s nothing here.” I said this is exactly where
I want to get dropped, here. And he said, “okay, good luck.” And he fly away. And I can hear the
ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch, and then nothing. So welcome in Australia. Well we can see it’s
not flat at all, right? So the good thing about this, there is valley here. So, on the bottom of the valley,
we’ve got a bit of water. See, you’ve got water,
bit of green thing, means we’re going to find food. So, this always a
bit the same story. You’ve got water, you’ve got
frog, frog you’ve got snakes, snakes you’ve got crocodile. It goes like that a bit. So, I knew that. So, that’s how I
start, my journey. So rule number one. Do not camp near the water. Do not take your water two
times in the same spot. The first time,
you’re going to be okay. But, the second time
he will get you. So this kind of area there,
it’s full of things like, crawling, spiders
everywhere, snakes, but two types of crocodile. One is sweetwater
crocodile, they are lovely. Really lovely creature. They talk to you,
you talk to them, it’s really lovely relationship. And then you’ve
got the other one, it’s a big salty crocodile. They eat cattle, horses, big
thing, human, they love it. So they eat those things,
they turn them around, they put them underneath
the water under a log, leave you there for a few
weeks, so you get really tender. They go back there. So it’s all about managing
your landscape right. So, I was there,
lovely camp, look. Afternoon, I’ve got a
little fire going on, my little house. And far enough away
from the water. So I’m there, taking my water, so I’m really safe there, so
I’ve got a bucket of water, like a flexible bucket of
water, like a plastic thing. And I put my rope
at the end of it, and I decide to take my
water, so I throw the thing in the water, and
retrieve the bucket. And unfortunately, the
thing didn’t open properly. I was like, Sarah Marquis. Really, are you that
good, it’s going to be good. It’s going to be really
long journey like that. Anyway, I start
again, open the thing, throw that thing
in the water again. And retrieve it. This time I’m
going to get it right. I retrieve this bucket, and suddenly there was
this branch in the middle, and I was like, ah, I
haven’t seen that branch? Really? Getting better. And I just did this
little push, like that, just for the bucket
to go over the branch. And suddenly the branch
was pulling me back. That was my first
crocodile fight. Yeah, that was the
kind of welcome party. And, that was the beginning
of a really long relationship. So how you deal with crocodiles? Well, you have to learn,
you have to be aware of your surroundings
at any moment. It’s really important. It’s valuable for us here also. So, that day, that was
a special day that day. I’ll tell you, I did
amazing discovery. I was exhausted, as usual. And starving, because I’ve
been starving quite a lot. And, that was a laundry day. I wash a bit my
stuff on the way. So I had my long, it’s
like a long shirt, long sleeve, and
I took some water, and I decide to wash
it, so I squeeze it, and I decide to have a nice, ah, to get rid of that
water a little bit. And suddenly I hear a noise. It be like, (high
pitched bird call?) Like a crinky noise like that. I was like, what?! And suddenly I’m just
like, under the bushes straight away, looking
for what’s going on. Because you don’t want
to stand like a big, tall asparagus in the
middle of the bush. Is just, do not do this. You have to be on the
ground, all the time. And then, I’m there,
waiting to see that bird, because I know all of the
birds, I know all the plants, I’ve been studying that
landscape for days and years. Never heard about that bird. Anyway, I forgot
about that thing, took my jacket, and
smashed it again. I hear the same noise. It’s like, really?! But it was not
coming from the bush. It was coming from that cliff. And at the bottom of the cliff, I just get on the edge of it, and I saw this little
crocodiles lined up, talking to mom. I discovered that day,
the call of the crocodile. Yes, scientific discovery. See? So I’ve been studying
this for a long time before I head off an expedition. Nobody could actually
tell me what was the trick to know if there was a
crocodile in the water or not. The Aboriginal people
used to go in the water with two stones, getting
inside the water, and smash the stones together. And then they make
a little noise, and then they will know if
there’s a crocodile there. Well, that’s a bit
too late, right, you’re just in
the water already. It’s like the supper thing. You are on the menu. So, you don’t want that. So nobody never told me
what to do, actually, to know if it’s the
crocodile there. So I discovered the call
of the crocodile that day. And that was a good day for me, because the day
coming on from there, I would actually smash my
shirt, put a bit of water on the bottom, and I
would actually discover if there was crocodile
there or not. So when you’re going
to do those things, the only thing you have to know, you have to be able to read the landscape
like a treasure map. I would find, sometimes,
some water just because I found a little bird
on a type of tree. Because I know all those birds. The little red bird,
the diamond finch, I know they can fly five
kilometers around only. And I know they have to
drink two times a day. So I know there would
be water around. Or if I find a type of plant, I would know exactly what
kind of roots I can find, and I can find food. My food, it’s all I’ve got. You know, you realize
after you peel, life, it’s like an onion. You peel the onion. Once you peel where
you come from, who you are in this society, and you get to the
core of things, you realize that things are
really simple, actually. We all want the same thing,
we want our family to be safe, we want food and
water, shelter, basic. That was my morning. This was my breakfast. Every morning it would be easy
for me to find my breakfast. I will eat those kapok
flower, and those flower are incredible, because
they’re juicy, a bit gluey, not much taste, but
that will fill my tummy. So after a while,
after a few weeks, my tummy, would actually,
the side of my tummy will stick together. I will be so starving, like,
I couldn’t sleep at night. And that’s after three weeks,
I thought I was hungry, but wait. Took me three months. So I started to get better
at looking for food. And this is a typical good day, where I eat Pandanus spiralis. These are a bunch of
plants, spiky plant, really spiky, so
the way to eat this is to go in the
middle, with your legs, is not much easy way, right. You want the fresh, little,
young in the middle. So you take your hand, you
have to embrace the pain at one stage. So you go in the middle,
you grab the spiky thing, and then, quick fast go,
you collect the middle bit. And then, if you’re
lucky, at the end of it, you’ve got two centimeters
to three centimeters of white chewing thing. And it’s actually
fiber, you can eat that. And that will fill up my tummy. It’s all about filling
the tummy, you know? I would walk 12 hours
a day, climbing, going through really
harsh terrain. And then I would
reach that tree. This tree would be on
my way all the time. What do you think about that? It’s like a lot of fruit, right? So, I reached this tree,
and I look at the tree, I look on the ground. First thing, look on
the ground, no kangaroo, no birds eating that thing. There is no poo on the
bottom of that tree, no sign of anybody
using that tree. I don’t like it. But I’m starving, you know? So, I’m looking at that tree, I’m thinking, well
you know what? I learn how to do things,
I’m good, you remember? At surviving. So, the rules is
to take the fruit, smash it in your wrists here, that’s the most thin
skin that we’ve got, and then if there
is no reaction, you know the fruit
is kind of edible. Then you go phase number two, you put a bit of thing
inside your mouth here. No reaction, you can
go for the tongue. Wait four hours, because
some of those fruit, you need to wait for the
toxic to get out of the thing. If you kind of safe
after four hours, if you got no
tingling in the mouth, or in the tongue. I know that, right. So what I do, I get
there, take the fruit, squeeze a go, because
I don’t feel like it. Because I’m really
starving, right. So I did that, it was like, oof, was like a Schweppes, like,
like a Schweppes on steroids, like, oh my god
this is disgusting, and I tried to spit it
out, and everything. And I was like,
wrong move, Sarah. Anyway, I passed that tree. And I keep, over
the days, I keep, having that tree on my journey, and every time I see that
tree I’m like frustrated. And one thing you don’t want
is to get me frustrated. This is a do not do this. So, I get to that tree
again and I talk to him and say, “right, I know
you’re not good for me, but let’s try a
little bit again.” And I squeeze again,
a little bit squeeze, and I start to kind of like it. You know, we think, we cannot get used to things, well we can get used
to a lot of things. You can get used to things I start to get used to
this really horrible taste. And one day, I was really tired, having one of those
really bad days. And I saw that tree
many times on my way during the hours
following this long day. And I keep, sitting under that
tree, and having a go, until when I start to stand up, I had this blurred
vision of the landscape. I’m thinking, oh, Sarah,
too much of a good thing, it’s a bad thing, right? So I abused of this substance, and I lose my vision. So you learn, on the way,
also, I know a lot of things, but we learn on the way. The only way to learn is to
get out of our comfort zone, jump out, and be
here, and test it. This is the only way to grow. To get to that beautiful
people that we all are in this room. This is valuable for the lives, it’s a life lesson. Get out there, and try. Don’t stay in your own juice. This is my rule. Because, when you
know how to do things, you become a master
of what you do, and then what? It’s boring, you don’t grow. You start to be a bit,
uh, not a happy person. Hey, let’s get out there,
try a few different things. You never know
what’s going to happen.

23 thoughts on “Walking Alone in the Wilderness: A Story of Survival (Part 2) | Nat Geo Live”

  1. I used to walk (and run), sometimes for as many as 6 hours a day out in the foothills of Mount Rainer. Alone. And that was from age 9 to 14 when I got my XR 250R and turned my exploration game up. I came face to face with every kind of predator you can find in the Pacific Northwest, broke 3 toes, and 1 finger. And one time I accidentally took a stick to bridge of my nose. Just at a sharp enough angle to slice a spy hole into my right eyelid.

    I had done all of this by age 14. By age 19 I had spent as much as 18 days alone in and around Mount Rainer National Park. I spent enough time there that I could identify where I was by the distinct sounds of the wolves in the area at night. They always howl near their dens on the mountain. It is a cultural trait people at Nat Geo should pay to have documented. Wolves have culture too.

    Why are you people so impressed by shit you should have instinctually been able to do as children?

  2. What an interestingly beautiful accent!! I've never heard anything like it <3 <3 <3 She's a lovely storyteller =D

  3. Well, I am inspired, I am amused mostly by her quirky swiss accent, and I would love very much love to meet her in person!!!

    What an incredible person, and story.

    @Sarahmarquis come to NZ 🙂


  5. Why do I read the comments?
    She's talking fast and her accent might be difficult to understand,but you guys! That must be stressful and I don't think we can imagine what it really feels like to be able to do everything that she did!
    Oh! I almost forgot..She's from Switzerland

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *