Dacia Logan, Our gift for The Lotus Children Center, by Charlie Grosso

A sample of the first 12 days of The Mongol Rally….

Awake between 6 – 8 am, highly dependent on how hot it is in the tent or how many times I can hit snooze without angering the rest of our dorm mates.

Attempt to make / find coffee and chew on something resembling breakfast.

Get into our trusty 2005 Dacia Logan, “Irina” and drive.

Charlie and Pam in the Car

Avoid getting hit by angry and crazy drivers in Istanbul, Georgia and Baku (regular road rules do not apply — they are following a whole different set of rule books here).

Avoid hitting cows and or any other livestock that thinks the road is their own…of course they don’t follow traffic rules either!

Ignore all drivers who are angry and honking at you because your car cannot go very fast.

Google Map does not give you if the roads are cow optional

Quietly (and confusingly) convert local currency in my head while I refill the car with petro. How many liter is in a gallon again? What? Is that like $10 for a gallon of gas? Really?! WOW!

Patiently wait in line for border crossing, learning to drive in 1st gear really well.

Read about the next country while I am waiting in line at the border.

Hand over a large amount of paper work, on the car, on ourselves, along with my best disarming smile and hope that is enough.

Keep on driving.

“Left, right, veer left, follow that truck, oh shit, no right turn, ok keep on going straight and we will figure it out.”

Find hostel, friends apartment, camp site…..in the dark. (1:30a seems to be our usual arrival time….)

On the occasional day off — find market for Wok The Dog and basic supplies, maybe take in a sight or two (if we are lucky and not too exhausted to care) — then we plug ourselves back into the matrix and attempt to stay ahead of our work.

On the days when we can find fellow ralliers, we meet up for dinner and trade tales / rumors of what is to come.

Shower. Pass out! Get up. Repeat.

Is this what adventure feels like? Adrenaline rush from maneuvering through hairpin turns in the darkest night to avoiding insane drivers and cows on the road interchanged with pure exhaustion?

When I was in Bucharest sorting out the paper work on the car, I was not entirely certain if we would make it the Ulaan Baatar. I am not sure where the doubt came from but the rally does have a very high failure rate. But sometime since our kick off in Klenova, the doubt went away. I am absolutely certain that we will make it to Ulaan Baatar in one piece.

lost highway

I often say that if the outcome is certain than life would not be the provocative challenge that it is. As I drive into the night, at times feeling like I am re-enacting the opening sequence of Lost Highway, I start to wonder why am I doing this? The challenge is gone because I am certain that we will make it. So then….why did I decide to spend my summer driving across the world?

Oh yeah, this car, this little Dacia Logan we’ve name “Irina,” is a gift. It is a present to the Mongolians who are in need of cars and the money it will raise in auction is a gift for the street children that is being cared for by The Lotus Children Center.

I must admit, before I stared too deeply into the oncoming headlights and hypnotized myself into the mind of David Lynch, I was always more focused on the adventure aspect of the rally. The charity and philanthropy came second. Recasting our role in the rally as messengers of goodness makes the thousands of kilometers head a different ball game.

Intrepid Foundation is offering a matching donation for what we raise for The Lotus Children Center. Which means for every $10 you donate, the children will get $20! I’ve got another 26 days of hardcore driving ahead of me where roads will disappear and we will have to decipher one donkey trails for another. Please click below and make a donation to The Lotus Children Center and make the livestock dodging I am doing worth while!!!



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