Jul 23 2010

The Birth of a Mototaxi Junket

I sit on a sofa so comfortable that twice in the last hour I’ve had to wipe dribble off my chin. The sofa belongs to Cuzco’s branch of Bembos, the Peruvian equivalent of Burger King, although at first glance I can confirm that they actually put meat in their burgers. Lively South American music blasts from colourful speakers spread about the place, and from what I can gather the man currently singing is a big fan of riding his car, his horse, and his woman. The woman sat next to me thinks it’s a karaoke bar and is absolutely murdering the song about riding, so much so that she has dribble on her chin and hasn’t noticed for a while. Fabulous.



Oscar parks his mototaxi!

I’ve been in Peru for 17 days as a representative for the League of International Adventurists. My task, as I chose to accept it, was to project manage this Summer’s Mototaxi Junket, a trans-Andean-Amazonian venture undertaken by several handfuls of certifiably mad folk who have an equal enjoyment of drinking gin and driving bad vehicles. A mototaxi is basically the front half of a motorbike attached to a small sofa. Some say the two have bonded through welding, but I prefer not to encourage such positive engineering, so let’s imagine a bit of gaffer tape and some happy thoughts.


On the first of August, about thirty mototaxis will leave Cuzco bound for Asuncion in Paraguay, trundling along a route totally improvised by the teams involved. The Adventurists refer to this as the ‘un-route’ so I can’t give an approximation of distance, except to say the last teams to successfully drive from Peru to Paraguay totted up not far off 6000km each. You might think that this is basic endurance motoring, but a mototaxi isn’t designed to do much apart from ferry brave passengers several hundred metres from urban spot to urban spot. Hills are not recommended. Neither are dirt tracks, extreme temperatures, surfaces labelled ‘unsmooth’, tight bends, windy locations or border crossings. Pretty much everything our Junketeers are about to do, then.




So what’s involved in preparing an event like this? Put aside the administrative duties performed by Adventurists HQ back home in the UK, the on-the-ground stuff involves appeasing the various embassies of countries that might temporarily host our three-wheeled friends. I’ve been working alongside Alfonso and Oscar, the two blokes in charge of the Adventurists’ South American branch, so they’ve done the Spanish talking bits, quite handy for someone who only understands Spanish for ‘I like riding my car, my horse and my woman.’ The mototaxis have been dusted off and had some oil put in them and we’ve nurtured a fine relationship with the eastern Cuzco district of San Jeronimo, from where the Junket will launch. Two days of mototaxi driving and mechanical training will ensue at the end of next week, and if our teams survive that they will be subjected to two days of fiesta, just to make sure they’ve forgotten everything they learned in training. We’ll also have a football tournament against some local players – officially, due to Cuzco’s altitude, there’s a 1.3% chance of an Adventurists team scoring – for which we’ll probably provide supplementary oxygen. And then there’s the personal touch; we want our Adventurists to feel wanted, welcome, happy even, so we’ve been preparing several little presents and useless branded things to make them smile.


Needless to say, the whole thing has been an experience already, and there’s still nine days to go until we launch. After that, providing a well-timed local strike (which threatens to block roads and burn tyres and stuff) doesn’t delay us for too long, I’m going to hop on a plane and fly to Asuncion to do everything in reverse. Which is, organise a finish line, some parties and sports matches, find storage for our strides and make sure everything is ship-shape for the return Junket in January. (Should you want to sign up for this, take a look at the Adventurists’ website.)


To end, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you a video I made of the first time I experienced a mototaxi.


Please note that this blog contains purely personal thoughts, and should not be read as The Adventurists’ official stance on anything. Thanks!