La course de pousse-pousse
Twenty nomadic scallywags. Seven times a rickshaw.
Two weeks. Over three thousand five hundred kilometres of West Indian coastline. It’s madness; fucking awesome amazing madness, the adventure of a lifetime, and it’s all in the name of charity.
These are friends who met on the road. They slept head to toe in bedbug infested hostels in Budapest and danced on tables together in Ibiza. They accidentally crossed paths all over the world, and somehow during those dozens of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-visits, an idea was formed: the Rickshaw Run.
The Rickshaw Run is organised by a group of legends called The Adventurists, but it’s not organised travel at all; it’s an idea, a challenge. They give you a map, a rickshaw and a time limit, and wave as you drive off into the wilderness. There aren’t guides; there’s no special number to call for roadside assistance – it’s just you, and the 20 million other motorists who hit the Indian roads every day. A twist is added by nominating a charity that you use your trip as a platform to fundraise for – it’s a way to have your own wild, epic journey while still making a difference. It works, too; so far the adventurists have raised over five million pounds for numerous causes.
On Boxing Day, four Australian girls, Tegan, Jo, Raych and Jess, will meet their little rickshaw for the first time. Three days later, they’ll start their trip in her all the way from Cochin (Kochi) in the deep south to Jaisalmer in the far north. None of them have ever driven a motorcycle before, or have any knowledge of mechanics/engines. This month when Tegan’s car ‘broke’, her air-conditioning had stopped working and she sent it to a shop to get things patched up. In India, it’s more likely to be a broken axle, and she’ll be patching things up herself. Most of the girls are used to travel; one of them got so drunk at Stoketoberfest one year that she never actually made it in to the beer halls, and didn’t quite make her departing flight either. But this trip is a whole different kind of challenge from multiple beer bongs at 6 a.m. in the morning; it’s a quest, a journey of a lifetime – it might kill them, but it’ll definitely make them stronger.
So how does one decide to do something so obviously insane? It’s a familiar story for those with the travel bug: after years of constant vagabonding, the girls had all moved back to Australia to get on with their “real lives.” They tried to settle back into the suburbs, into desk jobs and routines, but something never quite clicked. After two years of dullness, Tegan finally treated herself with a whirlwind trip to India, and her travel flame re-lit. Two days after she came back from Canada, India was already booked. Suddenly it all made sense: why stay at home twiddling your thumbs, desperately seeking things to do, when you could just admit it: travelling is your only hobby, and you shouldn’t let real life come between you and the things that you love.
The ladies decided that they would use their expedition as a chance to raise money for two charities: Motor Neuron Disease Australia ($10,000 fundraising goal), and Cool Earth ($500 goal). With the help of major sponsor Stoke Travel, they expect to break their $10,000 goal by the end of the week. The cause is personal for each member of the team – Jo’s aunty and grandmother suffered from Motor Neuron disease, while Raych and Jess have worked with patients suffering from muscular disorders. Tegan is one of the scientists working towards finding a cure. Each of their lives have been touched by M.N.D., and this is the one way that they have all found to fight back.
* If you want to watch the girls’ journey, head over to their Facebook page, and give them a cheeky like: https://www.facebook.com/RickshawRunJanuary2015
* If you’re interested, check out their fundraising page here: http://personalchallenge.gofundraise.com.au/page/RickshawRunJan2015
They’ll be posting videos and updates on where they are for us to drool over while we slave away at our desk jobs/eat 70c ramen at home in our pajamas. Better yet, why not donate? We know most hobos out there have pretty shallow pockets, but any little bit would do.