For at least the last five years I have longed to take part in the Rickshaw Run, trying my best to carouse and cajole everyone I knew into sharing the adventure with me, without success. And so it became this thing I carried around with me, a seed I didn’t have the heart to cast aside.
And thank goodness I didn’t, because about this time last year I finally found the perfect spot to plant it, and sent two strangers an email, inviting them to drive across the sub-continent of India with me, in an auto-rickshaw.
The tiny little flower that grew from that seed has blossomed and spread with abandon, and brought two courageous and inspiring women into my life, Kim and Sarah, and friendships I feel certain will last a lifetime.
And they feel it too, because each of them crafted their travel plans around this dream of mine, and just five days ago we came together for the very first time, on the platform of Jaisalmer train station in the north west of India.
Sarah, me and Kim, AKA team Namaste Outta My Way
Since then our days have been beautiful chaos, as we talk, write, explore, and make our preparations for the epic journey that awaits us. Here in the golden hued city of Jaisalmer, with her crumbling walls and shit-strewn cobbled alleyways, we have been impatiently waiting to start the engine on our rickety old rust bucket, and slowly but surely make our way out across the wilds of the Thar desert, and beyond.
In the meantime we have been spending a good part of each day at the Rickshaw Run HQ, the beautiful Jawahar Niwas Palace Hotel, and test-driving and pimping our ride to our hearts content.
The driving has proven (thankfully) easier than we had anticipated, and every time I get in the front seat I feel a huge grin spread across my face, and my excitement levels skyrocket.
We have already suffered one breakdown, run out of petrol in the middle of a busy street due to rickshaws NOT having a fuel gauge, and I am yet to master the crank start, but despite all this, I feel comfortable enough to head out onto the infamous roads of India, which is just as well, as tomorrow this thing starts for real.
And you know what? We’re totally ready. Our rickshaw has been pimped to within an inch of her life, with a sound system, curtains, good luck charms from friends and flower garlands that Sarah brought all the way from Mexico. I can’t look at her without feeling this overwhelming sense of… ahhhhhhhh.
She is just so darn cute, don’t you agree?!
Tomorrow morning, at around 11.30am, we will load her up, start the engine, and fall in line with the other 70+ rickshaws taking part, then make our way through the streets before we slowly, one by one, bid each other farewell and turn left or right, north or south, and begin our totally un-aided journey towards Cochin in Kerala.
We will be trying our best to keep you all updated on our adventures from the road, and I will be blogging as much as possible both here on Further Bound, and the Rickshaw Run Diaries. We will also update our Facebook and Twitter pages daily to let you all know we are still alive, and allow you to follow our progress in real-time.
And let’s not forget the most important part of this whole experience. We are raising money for FRANK Water, a wonderful charity who bring clean drinking water to rural parts of India via sustainable, community run projects for villagers living below the poverty line. We’ve raised an astounding £2,605 GBP for the charity so far. Can you help us reach £3,000? Click here to donate.
So I guess all that’s left is to say a huge thank you to all of you for your support, we hope you will continue to follow along as we inch our way across one of the most diverse countries on the planet. See you in Cochin!