In 1999 Todd Lawson’s brother, Sean, died tragically of preventable cerebral malaria at the end of a motorcycle adventure through southern Africa. It left Todd with a hole in his heart — and in his life. Wracked with guilt over their joint decision to forgo antimalarial drugs, and his own failure to grasp the gravity of the early signs of Sean’s ultimately fatal disease, Todd gets on with life but remains adrift until he meets Christina, a soulmate and like-minded traveller. Together they embark on an audacious motorcycle trip in honour of Sean’s vagabond spirit, embracing his preferred method of travel: two wheels, no technology, all adventure.
Riding from their home in Whistler, BC, they sprinkle Sean’s ashes — carried back to Canada from Africa inside the belly of a carved wooden elephant — throughout every country in the Americas. Although the 19-month, 23-country odyssey delivers healing for Todd and unparalleled, off-the-beaten-path adventure for the couple, the biggest revelation of all is that they can’t stop there: they must return to Africa to experience the continent as the brothers had. This time, however, there will be a purpose: delivering mosquito nets to vulnerable families suffering the ravages of malaria in isolated villages where nets are otherwise unavailable. What begins as a way to truly honour the legacy of Sean becomes an arms-open exploration into the beauty of the natural world and the people living closest to it.
Bitterly poignant, Inside the Belly of an Elephant takes readers on a full-throttle adventure of spontaneity that wheels from harrowing tragedy to uplifting narratives that illuminate the power we all possess to rise up from the dark depths of the human condition.