Amelia Earhart, Jeanne Bare, Elsbeth Beard. Ladies have been adventuring for hundreds of years, and they're fucking good at it. To show that the fairer sex can cope with adventure as well as any chap, this week we're talking to some girls who aren't worried about getting their hands dirty. We'll be posting here on the blog as well as on Facebook & Twitter with the hashtag #Ladyadventurists.
To kick things off I caught up with the fragrant Cristiana from 2012 Rally team The Fire Fairies; to see how they managed on the Mongol Rally without a 'Y' Chromosome. Weren't they worried about tackling the Rally tackle-free? The adventure involves no small amount of mechanical fix-a-jobbery, roughing it and navigating, not your average lady's pastimes. Oh, and driving. That joke almost writes itself. Right?
How did you cope with breakdowns?
We started having car problems in Georgia. The first times we would get all depressed and worried that we won't make it, but as we got further east, we just knew we'll fix it somehow and there's no stopping until we get to the finish line.
Also, when you see teams that go through much more difficult problems and get over them, that is inspiring.
Did you do any prep to minimise this?
We tried. We had a sponsor who checked and prepared the car (shield, some new parts, etc).
Did you take extra spares?
2 tires and 2 buffers (is this the word?)
No, I think you mean shocks. Did you do any mechanical training?
Just one off-road driving lesson with a professional driver.
Driving / traffic
How did you find it driving for long hours in unfamiliar countries?
It depends on the country, but you just get used to it at some point. The most difficult parts were the boring good roads, like the one crossing south Kazakhstan from south to north. 1300 straight km towards Russia.
Did you worry about getting lost much?
No. We had maps and a compass, going east was the main idea. Only the big cities were a bit difficult, we had no GPS or maps, so finding the hostel was sometimes a bit confusing, especially in hectic towns like Samarkand.
What was the traffic like in the cities?
Again, it depends on the cities. Driving in big cities in Turkey, Georgia and Uzbekistan was crazy, those people are fearless.
What was it like driving on the really bad roads?
Mostly fun because it kept you alert and we had to find solutions. For example, in the Kazakh desert we chose to drive on the sides of the main road, which is an ex-soviet road towards Uzbekistan where you could see only trucks and us.
Did they hassle you at all?
Just a bit, but you can always play dumb and leave.
At any point did you feel threatened?
Not at all.
The other Ralliers
How did the guys on the Rally treat you?
It seemed like our team gained quite some image capital, and we also had the Vama Veche party, so most ralliers we met knew us or about us. We made many friends and got a lot of male attention, that is for sure.
How was it ‘roughing it’ for such a long time on the road?
Absolutely lovely. We enjoyed every bit of it, even the incredibly hot and dusty moments or the terribly cold nights in Mongolia. There were some moments when we felt dirty or tired or even hungry (in Mongolia, because we did not like the food), but it was all an experience, we did not feel negative about it at all.
Was there anything you took along to make life easier?
Wet wipes and a lot of music.
Was there anything you really missed?
Message to girls thinking of Rallying
What would you tell a girl/ group of girls thinking of doing the rally?
DO IT! It will make you learn stuff about yourself and the world.
If you could, with hindsight, give yourself advice before the Rally what would you say?
What would you say to a girl who was deciding whether to go with boys or girls?
Just go with people you genuinely like, preferable friends. The all girl experience is empowering, but the rally is wonderful anyway.
Stop being sexist.
If you know of a lady Adventurist, or are one yourself give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org or just post your #Ladyadventurist pictures, quotes and stories on social media to join in that way.
There are still places on the 2015 Mongol Rally. You can save £50 if you sign up by January 6th.