The past month has been a complete whirlwind. We’ve had friends from home come to hike with us in Patagonia. We’ve been to Santiago, Mendoza, Buenos Aires and at least five smaller cities. We’ve been on three flights and just as many overnight busses. It’s been crazy and hectic and wonderful all at the same time. There are so many stories to tell.
At the forefront of our minds throughout our frenzied final weeks in South America has been this date: 12/22/12. It’s the day we must arrive at the airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to catch our flight to India. Because, oh yeah, we’re going to India and, oh yeah, I’m going to drive a motorized rickshaw down the whole subcontinent with two people I have technically never met before. Oh my gawd.
If this is news to you, you can read this post to learn more about the ridiculousness that is the Rickshaw Run.
The Rickshaw Run
You guys, I am so completely unprepared. I don’t know a thing about India and I have stubbornly refused to find out. From time to time Brian will gingerly nudge the India Lonely Planet Guide in my direction and each and every time I nonchalantly push it back at him.
The Adventurists, the company that dreamed up and organizes the Rickshaw Run, sends me weekly e-newsletters that probably include very important information and I don’t read them. I don’t read them! I really cannot explain why I am acting this way. I simply cannot bring myself to open the emails.
I know that this is the equivalent of putting my hands over my ears and singing LA LA LA LA LA in a loud, obnoxious voice but I have a strong feeling that I should just show up in India and take whatever comes my way. There is a very good chance that this is the dumbest idea ever.
When I tell people that have been to India or actually are Indian about the Rickshaw Run the conversation inevitably goes this way:
Previous traveler to India (PTI): South America to India, that’s an odd route. Why are you going to India?
Me (muttering and staring at my shoes): Well, see, I’m doing this thing called the Rickshaw Run where I drive a motorized rickshaw from Jaisalmer in the north of India to Kochi in the south. It’s sort of like a race except no one wins. But it’s for a good cause. I have two teammates and we’re raising money for charity.
PTI: Wait. Hold up. YOU are driving a rickshaw through India? Like, you don’t have a driver? You’re driving yourself?
Me: That is correct.
PTI: Whoa. I. Uhhh. Wow. Wow. I just don’t know what to say. (Long pause) Do you have any idea what you’re getting yourself in to?
Me: No, no idea.
PTI: Well, it’s just… Man. There’s no place like India. You can’t imagine it. The roads, the pollution, the chaos. There are cows everywhere. They’re all over the streets. You have to look out for the cows!
Me: That’s cool. I love cows.
At this point the conversation usually grinds to a halt and the person I’ve been talking with walks away shaking his or her head as if to say, that girl is completely off her rocker.
Every once in awhile, though, I find someone who is absolutely in love with India and so incredibly pumped for me that their enthusiasm fills me like a helium balloon. I walk away from those interactions excited. Those are the people that save me. I am scared out of my mind.
Follow Team Namaste Outta My Way
The Rickshaw Run begins on January 1, 2013. My teammates, Hannah, Sarah, and I are going to try our best to write about the adventure in real-time on our blog The Rickshaw Run Diaries. If you’d like to follow along you can visit the site and sign up for email updates.
Our website: www.rickshawrundiaries.com
Our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RickshawRunDiaries
On twitter: https://twitter.com/RRDiaries
We have no idea what our chances of finding good Internet access will be, but we are going to do everything we can to update our site at least once a day. I will also try to update So Many Places as often as possible.
Help us reach our fundraising goal. It’s for a good cause!
We’ve set a goal to raise 2,000 pounds ($3,200 dollars) for FRANK Water and we are soooo close. FRANK Water is a clean-water charity that sets up sustainable, community-owned clean water projects in some of the poorest communities in India. We’ve raised 82 percent of our goal so far. Will you help us reach 100%?
Any little bit helps. Please dig deep and donate here.
To those of you who have already donated THANK YOU. Your support and encouragement mean so much to us and we promise to bravely putter through India in honor of you.
Thank you to our sponsors
I’m excited to announce that Hostelbookers has signed on as an official sponsor of Team Namaste Outta My Way. Hostelbookers is the only independent hostel booking site that has no booking fees. With youth hostels and cheap hotels in over 3,500 destinations worldwide, Hostelbookers aim is to be the number one website for backpackers and student travel.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of the wonderful companies that are sponsoring team Namaste Outta My Way and helping to make this wild adventure possible: Hostelbookers, Wimdu, KEEN, Atlas Cruises and Tours and Sykes Cottages.