Who are we and what exactly are we doing?
What happens when three friends and colleagues (yep, throw the boss in there too!) all with their own quirks and strong personalities, who have never traveled anywhere together, decide over a couple of beers to embark on a 10,000 mile charity rally…an odyssey through 12 countries from Prague, Czech Republic to Mongolia in a 17-year old 1200 cc manual transmission Toyota Yaris which we have never driven…let alone laid eyes upon? A car that we have purchased in England so yes, because our adventure won’t be adrenaline-fueled, unpredictable, and hair-raising enough, we decide that hell, yes…let’s spend the 24 days of the rally driving on the right side of the road in a matchbox car that has a right-sided steering wheel? Adventure of a lifetime or journey to hell?
Who are we and what previous experience have we acquired that has prepared us for such an undertaking? The second question is an easy “none”!
So, who are we?
Lets start with Geoff Best, world traveler, intimidated by no-one, strong, tough as nails, can down a reaper pepper quicker than you can say ‘reaper’ without even engaging his gag reflex. A bonafide and fearless international gourmand, Geoff can credit his mother for his fondness for the unusual. As a boy in Tanzania, she fed him fried, crispy grasshoppers with a side of ketchup. He has since enjoyed scorpion and duck embryo in Vietnam, savoured the mouth-watering rabbit heads and tasty morsels of duck tongues in China, survived a feast of fugu (blowfish) in Japan, and feasted on snake in the US. Although fearless in his culinary exploits, this, unfortunately does not transfer into other aspects of Geoff’s life…namely driving. His greatest fear is struggling with a manual transmission in a busy roundabout of a foreign city with an angry mob laying on their horns behind him…58 years old, but alas, has spent his entire life driving an automatic.
Kevin Orange, A man’s man…a boxer, hunter, gatherer, provider, can probably take down a yak with his bare hands and scare off any would-be bandits that we will undoubtedly encounter on our adventure…our McGyver…can fix a broken fan belt with pantyhose. Kevin, at 36 years old is the baby of our team but alas, this gentle giant is 6’4”. How long can he possibly stay folded in our matchbox car without suffering a psychotic break?
Kari Hanes, master of the art of argument…will most definitely (probably) be able to handle the bribe-taking border guards, Camino walker, can thread a mean blister, can do 100 tricks with duct tape & bungee cords, can say “I’m lost” in 7 different languages, can survive 4 days comfortably without a shower. 60 years old, the oldest and only woman on the team, but alas, has absolutely no sense of direction, cannot read a map, so team members have been warned not to fall asleep while she’s driving. Kari’s greatest fear is her two team members falling asleep while she’s driving and ending up at the remote and inhospitable border of an unknown country.
And finally…(drum roll)…introducing the fourth and final member of our team…Black Betty! Black Betty is our 2002 Toyota Yaris, ‘yaris’ from the Greek ‘charis’, meaning ‘grace’ which makes her a fitting member of the team as she will be our ‘grace under pressure’. Black Betty, our chariot, with 102,000 miles under her hood, has been around the block a few times. Experienced, determined, and reliable (except for that slightly sagging chassis), Black Betty is confident that she can make it to the end. She loves all kinds of music and nothing makes her happier than a vintage diesel and premium performance engine oil. Black Betty’s biggest fear is losing it in Mongolia.
This is our team…the fearless, clueless Khanucks!
** 100 % of every dollar donated will go to the Education Foundation of Ottawa **