Here’s a February 2011 article on me by Adventure Magazine Beyond Limits
Many of us putter along through our lives searching for meaning, wondering if there is more to do out there. We put off our dreams and travel plans, referencing careers and responsibility as reasons to not achieve our potential and our ambitions. Several weeks ago I watched a talk by Dave Cornthwaite. Dave had decided to stop waiting to do what he wanted to do and set about fulfilling his dreams and creating new ones, whilst making a life that is both sustainable and fulfilling.
This summer I’ve been organising one of the most random motorised events in history, a 5000km journey between Cuzco in Peru and Asuncion in Paraguay, by mototaxi, which just happens to be a most inadequate form of long-distance transport. Here’s a report of the event launch and a couple of videos which will require some side-stitching:
The first teams wisely arrived with a week to spare, turning up in tweed and bearing stories of being held at gunpoint in the mountains on the bus from Lima. Gin flowed all week, and I daresay every Adventurist went to bed after sun was up at least once.
Thursday and Friday were mototaxi training days, and by God they were needed. Petrol, bolts and number plates were all over the place, serenaded by the spluttering roar of faltering engines. Soon enough a Cuzco football field was awash with racing mototaxis, and I’d be lying if I said the goalposts weren’t rammed a couple of times.
The highlight of training was a timetrial course. All non-drivers perched on a hill as the clock ticked on, whooping and laughing at mototaxis being controlled with a variety of skill. The Crewkerne Argonaughts were the first to lose control, crashing into a wall with the passenger - John, decked out in cricket whites - leaping from the sofa in an attempt to avoid injury.
One of our two Estonians, Kristiina, tried twice to run cameraman Dave over before taking out a goalpost, throwing a fine two-wheeler, then circling the field once more only to roll the mototaxi over. The American in the back, Ryan, somehow remained unharmed!
Friday night’s party was a corker. A banquet in central Cuzco was made better by a local band and dancers, two of whom were fairly adept at playing tunes with scissors and doing backflips and front rolls. Mototaxi Junket balloons adorned the after-party venue, as did piles of gin and large red daiquiries the size of a fat woman’s breast. I won’t name the culprits, but there might be a Mototaxi Junket baby courtesy of some bodyshot shannanigans and the resultant afters. There wasn’t much sleep that night.
24 hours on, the mototaxi paddock in San Jeronimo was littered with vehicles in costume. Ten baby alpacas were sacrificed in order to cover two vehicles belong to the Great Ball of Fur crew, and by the looks of it the other teams has slaughtered a couple of cows and a panda. Our Argentinian team, one of whom (Diego) wore a Hand Of God shellsuit (controversial among the English), weren’t taking any diplomatic chances and flags of all South American nations could be seen flying from their multiple masts.
Launch party in San Jeronimo square was livened up by a decent crowd of locals and a band called La Excellente, who are famous. In San Jeronimo.
Cusquena beer has supplied a fine stage and the local council had mustered food stalls and security. The highlight of the night was without doubt the fireworks, a rickety tower of unimaginable intricacy, burned and flared for half an hour - covering most of our crew in Junket-threatening embers. All burns were forgotten when two motorcycle shaped fireworks were led out to play, the last one collapsing ceremoniously on the small Peruvian man who held it aloft on a stick made of wood.
Official Launch from San Jeronimo
And then the launch. Spiderman, Superman, Superwoman, Batman, gents in Tweed, Penelope Pitstop with her pink furry mototaxi, two Irish lads dressed in potato sacks, the Crewkerne Argonaughts in orange boiler suits (not once taken off during the week - apart from during the afters of a bodyshot incident), two French Elvis impersonators with murals of the burger-eating crooner on the side of their taxi. My personal favourite touch were framed pictures of the Queen tied frmly to the outer side of Furball’s vehicles. Someone had hung a line of vegetables across the back of their taxi.
The locals were bemused, the mayor turned up in his finest football kit to greet us. A witch doctor blessed the journey and the ground and the mountains and every one of our superheroes, before the launch proceeded out of town led by local police.
Only three mototaxis failed to work on the start line. Out on the road, junketeers hopped from speeding mototaxi to speeding mototaxi, stray dogs defied common sense and played chicken with our three-wheeled craft, the majestic creased hills of Cuzco rose up behind a thirty-strong fleet and only three people’s bags fell off on the way from the city.
It was a day to remember for everyone involved, especially a young Peruvian lad who stood amongst the mototaxi starting grid, one foot on his skateboard which quite wonderfully boasted only three wheels. Onwards to Asuncion.