Monday, March 19, 2007

Southern Asia Rally

No, it's not a banger rally, per se, but it does fit in with driving around southern asia, which was one of our thoughts for the next phase.

Gabe brought this to our attention. Thanks, Gabe!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

mix some bangers and biodiesel

and what do you get?
This rally (in it's first, inaugural year) was started by the same guy that started the plymouth to banjul challenge. I think this one'll be intesting (I wish I was going). Emily, our defacto challenge guru and advisor, is going on this trip. Go Emily!
I think they might be having some issues with the site right now, but I assume it'll be up and running shortly.

The mother of all rallies

or so they say. These guys have rallies all over the place, including the BABE rally (Big Apple to Big Easy).

Cannonball Run wasn't just a movie..

This is for the speed freaks out there.

Ramshackle Rally

I haven't seen a rally that didn't seem like a ton of fun. This one offers 2 different routes, and one ends in Valencia, just in time for the Tomatina.

Mongol Rally

I've decided that we need to compile a list of other rallies, just to keep the ideas growing and the juices flowing. We need to figure out the next trip. Speaking of which, someone needs to follow up with Emily and see how her grease ball rally (bio diesel from the US to Panama) is faring.

here's the mongol rally.

Friday, March 09, 2007

some guys have all the luck

As long as I'm on the site, posting, I guess I might as well throw this little tid-bit out to people.
We ran into 3 teams in Dakar before we left. 2 guys in a station wagon, 3 guys in a VW bus, and 2 ladies in a 4 door sedan (I don't know what kind of car it was). We'd crossed paths with most of the teams a couple of times before, especially the guys in the station wagon. Personally, I sometimes thought that they were the antithesis of our group - experienced mechanics, traveling light, with well defined plans and an efficient and direct manner. They took their own firewood into the desert. They traveled for weeks in Morocco before we got to Tarifa. They went all over the place. The group, plus another car, traveled across the Sahara with NO guide, just a couple of GPS's. That's crazy.
When we saw them in Dakar, they were planning on going to Banjul the long way around - driving all the way around the Gambia (within Senegal), and then approaching Banjul from the South. Sounded like fun - crazy, but fun (Casamance, in the south of Senegal, is doing a little seceding dance, and things are getting a little excited down there, from what I understand). Anyway, the complication to their travel plans was the intersection of 2 salient facts. One, that all cars that enter Senegal are supposed to be escorted through the country together. These guys had slipped away from their escort, which can be overlooked at the border, but were all on the same ingress/egress document, which means they all have to cross the border out of Senegal together. And, two, two of the teams had to get to Banjul earlier than the rest to catch their return flights home.
So, the plan was to leave Dakar (and, boy, did they get a late start. I remember them leaving way after lunch), drive to the nearest border with the Gambia, say their farewells, and then continue (the last 2 cars) on their trip around Senegal. Unfortunately, things didn't work out so well for them. They were stopped at some point in Senegal by the MPs, with a mismatch between the number of cars in the convoy and the number of cars stated in their travel documents, and got in a world of trouble. Last I heard they were back home safely, but had spent 10 days in "custody" by the police, or military, before things were settled. Here's an excerpt from the PB listserv:

As far as I know they were not entirely innocent and were the unlucky
ones that got caught.
They started out in a convoy from Diama with a customs guide, 2 other
P-B cars and 7 (I think) unrelated old Dutch tourist cars. A Dutch car broke down and the guide handed the "Passe Avante (sp?)" to the P-Bers and told them to go straight to the border leading to the Barra ferry.
Well, they didn't. They went to the next place up stream on the river. Still OK, the other two crossed into The Gambia and handed the Passe to Double de Klutz who headed further inland towards a national park.
When they were apprehended they couldn't prove that the other two cars had left Senegal and the last I heard they were held under threat of jail, waiting for proof to be sent from Banjul.

I'd like them to send me more deatils so we can warn people for next year. So if anyone can get them to do that or send info yourself, I'd be greatful.

2006/7, quite an eventful year for the challenge!

Road Book Editor

After re-reading the quote, I guess it was one car that was trying to drive around the country, and the other two had gone ahead into the Gambia.
What's the lesson here? I'm not sure, but I'm pretty confident that, all things considered, we didn't have it so bad when we were stuck in Dahkla for 6 days, sleeping in nice hotel rooms and drinking cold beers. That, and the fact that no amount of planning can prepare you for the random things that lady luck might throw at you. That goes for life here, as much as it applies to the trip.

Observations, part 1

I don't know what's going on with this blog of ours these days. True, we've finished the trip, and the blog's raison d'etre may have passed, but I feel like there's still lots of stuff that needs updating, and many loose ends that need to be tied up. We need more pictures, for one thing. And there's still the fund to distribute to our worthy charities. And there's work to be done to thank all of our sponsors and contributors. And more talk about our experiences -- the distillation of our travels into small vials of wisdom, rife with the complex bouquet of morals, victories, hair-splitting nuance, and inefficient activity. And our own special ingredient: sand. Lots and lots of that deep yellowy Saharan sand.
So? Where is it, peeps? Where are the deep thoughts that our friends and family have come to expect from us on this blog? Do I have to do everything?

Here's a short list of some of the things that I noticed on the trip that gave me pause, in no particular order:

1. Driving habits of various countries and cultures: I don't even want to get into this one. It's too long and must be saved for a later day. Suffice to say that it gets worse the further South you go (is that further or farther? I always confuse the two. God bless Google, it's farther, isn't it?). I think that this might be a universal truth - that driving habits get worse the farther South one goes. I smell a Theory, and a potential dissertation topic.

2. Toilets: No, this isn't a comparative analysis between western toilets and the eastern "squat" toilets. We were blessed with western toilets for most of our trip, thank the high spirits. That was one skill I wasn't looking forward to learning.
But, there is one distinction between our toilets and "their" toilets, over there. Many of the toilets that I encountered during the trip have a top flushing device, which isn't all that noteworthy, in and of itself. What was interesting is that the flush mechanism had two pieces to it - sort of like two half circles inside a ring type thing. These toilets are designed for 2 different types of flushes, 2 different flushes for the 2 different types of, well, business that is done in the toilets themselves (and looky here, google comes to the rescue again. They're called dual flush toilets. The picture's different, but you get the idea.). What's so great about this, you may ask? Water conservation. Minimize the load on the waste management system (infrastructure). These are good things for a "developing" economy. They're good for a developed economy, too, and basically just good for dear old mama earth. Not sure why they haven't caught on in the US. They have to be better than the godforsaken low flow toilets that were thrust upon the unsuspecting public back in the bad old days.

3. Siestas. Why are the Englishmen and their colonial descendants the only people in the world that think it's a good idea to do work, or anything else for that matter, in the middle of hot days? The rest of the world has figured it out. Find shade. Move as little as possible. Doze. It is just crazy that we try to soldier ahead in the heat.

4. Vacation time. This is more Europe than Africa. Europeans get 6 or more weeks a year of vacation. Why is it that Americans settle for 2 weeks? I know it has something to do with our Puritanical roots, but I don't understand why that can't change? I don't buy that it's bad for the economy - people working fewer hours should increase employment, not decrease output. And overall individual happiness should have some positive impact on an individual's production. Just a question, more than a thought.

5. Plastic bottles. The world used to get by with glass bottles for their soda, and other fluids. That was before we started drinking our water out of bottles, by the way (or paying $3.00 for a coffee). But glass was replaced, over time, with aluminum cans, and then by plastic bottles. It made sense in the developed world, back when we thought oil would last forever, and unbreakable bottles were good for the world (little Timmy will never get cut by a piece of broken glass again. Oh. Sorry, Scott). But now we know better. Why have "they", the manufacturing companies, exported plastic bottles and aluminum cans to the rest of the world. I can't imagine that the recycling process for plastic is better than recylcing glass bottles, that just takes hot water and a bottle deposit process. Maybe I'm missing something, but I think that bottles should be brought back. You would not believe the number of plastic junk strewn along the road in Mauritania. We're about as far from anything as a person can get in theh 21st century, and there are plastic bags (don't get me started) and plastic bottles everywhere.

6. Speaking of plastic garbage, think about the waste management infrastructure of this country, and rejoice. We discard a lot of stuff - mountains of it - and it goes 'poof!' and goes away. There is a lot of planning and activity around that seemingly simple occurance. Most countries haven't figured it out. Of course, most people realize at some point in their science classes that matter doesn't simply dissapear, and then we have to wonder where those industrious garbage technicians are taking our dirty diapers, and what they're doing with them...

Wow! This is going from an observation to an eco-rant! I'd better stop before I go on some sort of diatribe about the merits of reducing. More observations will come along later, I'm sure.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A moment of silence..

This has nothing to do with the rally, or the team, or anything that is going on in the "real world", actually, but Steve Rogers died yesterday. Whether you liked him or not, it's always a sad day when the world loses a hero.
Here's a story for you:

The Lost Boys...

Here's a link to a Youtube piece on the Costa Blanca Dons, the guys who were lost in the desert for four days...

Monday, March 05, 2007

T-shirts, get your T-shirts!

Non-penitent yanks shirts are available. The great guys from Carhaix gave us a bunch of the carhaix music festival shirts as gifts when we were picking up the bikes. There are a bunch of shirts left over that we would like to see worn and enjoyed. Let me know if you're interested. If you live far away, we can ship.
All XL
purple shirts
"Govel 4n Ereg Kozer 2005" (I think that's what's printed. I think, too, that this is Brettanish?, Britanian?, Brettonesse?)

bands on the shirt include:
deep purple (hence the color?)
franz ferdinand
buena vista social club
new order
mickey 3d
iggy and the stooges
amadou and mairam
michel delpech
louis bertignac
tiken jah fakoly
and more... (what a show, eh?)

drop me a line if you're interested.

More pictures, please

Okay, my little droogies. I've taken some of my meager pictures and put them up on the flickr site. You should notice that the picture badge (that thing on the right hand menu bar with the changing pictures) has lots of new stuff.
Being the geekishly interested person that I am, I've also tried to geocode the pictures that I have. Check out this link, and tell me if it works. It should give you a fun little interface that links pictures to maps. Some of the pictures are well referenced on the map (they are where they should be). Others are more generally placed in the general area where they were taken. You figure out which are which.
If that doesn't work, I've shared the set, so you should be able to navigate to:
and see all the pictures. I think there's a link to the map section from there, as well.
Alternatively, you can navigate to the, and search for all pictures with the "penitent yanks" tag.
If that doesn't work, we'll have to do it the old fashioned way -- you'll have to come over to the house, and endure a tedious slide show. Oh boy!
I can't wait until Mike is ready to debut the 5 gigs of pictures he took!
happy surfing.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Dragin Run

I just found this - - online after looking through video footage from Marrakech and being reminded of our last day there.

While we were getting our new tires put on, an American couple pulled up on a beautiful BMW motorcycle with a side car. The gentleman said, "You must be the Americans who are looking for tires!". Apparently he had run across other PBC teams at the Marrakech campsite and they had told him our story...

Well their story makes ours look like a trip out of the house to the grocery store. Jack and Janet, both retirees, are currently travelling by motorcyle from China to Mexico. We ran into them seven months into their trip. They met the Dalai Lama in Tibet, travelled through Russia, the Middle East, and were spending time in Morocco before heading to Europe, then transiting over to Canada for a trip to Mexico, by way of Alaska!

Check out their site here, where we got a mention and a picture. I also interviewed Jack in the brief time we had together.

Good luck to you guys and travel safe!!!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Random Pictures

While I still haven't gotten up the gumption to write a little post-trip musing, here are the few still photos I took on my video camera when I wasn't actually filming video...

Kate and Kara in Marrakech

The Yanks (minus me) on the ferry from Europe to Africa.


McAya's in Dakhla - home of the "Big One", and provider of Yanks sustenance for six days...