They say getting to the start line is half the battle. For some of the teams it was more than that. 2 lost passports,1 lost driving licence and a few lost souls, and this is even before the launch..
One member of team Fighting Trousers was last seen serving rum and cokes behind the bar on Friday night, before arriving at the test driving ground the next morning, looking very sheepish having lost his passport. After some detective work by members of The Adventurists Peruvian HQ, the passport was recovered, it seems our plucky junketeer / apprentice barman had decided to take a nap in the Plaza de Armas here in Urubamba (he must have been tired after all those rum and cokes he served..) whilst asleep it seems his passport had fallen out of his pocket. Suffice to say, he was won"The biggest numpty" award at the traditional pre-launch dinner of Guinea Pig and chips.
Talking of awards, there has been a lot to celebrate on this years event, not only do we have 2 honeymoon couples, teams S & M in a Mototaxi and The van Buuren Explorateurs, but also a Mototaxi first, with an entire family of four taking the plunge, These Are Not My Goats 1 & 2 drew admiring glances from the other teams, as they envisaged what it would be like the do the event with their families,and shuddered...
The Peruvian dept of Adventurists HQ had been working hand in hand with Urubamba town hall for many weeks on arrangements for the big launch. However, as the big day dawned, we were still none the wiser as to what would actually happen.
A torrential downpour as the teams made last minute preparations did nothing to deter our intrepid adventurers, indeed Team Rattus turned up in shorts and flip flops moments before the big off, soaked to the skin, shivering and smoking cigarettes, the only words they could force from their frozen lips was, of course, " no worries".
Eventually the teams lined up on the now water-logged grid, on Urubamba's main square with the back drop of a beautiful church and surrounded by hundreds of years of history, the Mototaxis glistened in the morning light.
At the request of Urubamba Town Hall, each everyone had bought a souvenir of their home country, all the teams rose magnificently to the challenge and we look forward to returning to view the trophy cabinet in the town hall, we're such items as a Will and Kate Wedding souvenir mug, a tea towel from the Camino del Santiago and a vibrating penguin (to name but a few ) will have pride of place. These gifts were a small thank-you for them letting us use their rather splendid town hall as a launch site; a deal I think we won on.
The municipal brass band played, the fact that it was the same 2 songs on repeat didn't seem to bother anyone, whilst a large crowd of locals gathered as the Prague Adventurists, raising money for Prostate Cancer, offered to give on-the-spot examinations to anyone who wanted one.
Much ceremonial pomp and circumstance ensued, with gift giving and speeches made by local dignatories, whilst small children in national dress were forced to dance with large, unco-ordinated gringos whilst the growing crowd laughed and clapped along, until, before we knew it, time had come for the big off.
A final few laps of honour around the town square were in order. Each Mototaxi crammed to the gunnels with small children enjoying a final hurrah and moment of public adulation as our brave teams lurched and stuttered twice around the cobbled Plaza de Armas before depositing said children back on terra firma.
Then, the countdown began, all that could be heard was the the staccato sound of 29 electric starts not working followed, eventually, by the revving of those crappy 125cc engines, and the roaring of the crowds. This was it, the moment we had all been waiting for, as the sunshine broke through the clouds, our intrepid adventurers began their epic journey northwards, between them and a beach in Northern Peru lies mountains, rivers, jungles and an awful lot of pisco sours.
Onwards upon mighty steeds, onwards!