The first busload of rally participants excitedly meandered around a warehouse in Beijing searching for our faithful mechanical companions – and there she was. Penny was in the front row waiting for us. Max and I both exclaimed… “There she is!” We both were so happy to see her and it became far more real that we were about to embark on a 15,000km journey across 11 countries to Paris.
I clutched the sheets with the ‘tulip’s’ indicating the route back to the hotel in my nervous hands, and called out distances and descriptions of the symbols to Max while we drove in the hot humid smog of Beijing. I did need a bit of assistance from Max in a couple of spots as he had done the drive before; and we were one of the early cars to arrive back to the hotel. I didn’t get us lost! First challenge passed! 🙂
The small hail storm didn’t dampen the spirits of the competitors who continued to examine and in some cases repair and fine tune parts on their vehicles.
The atmosphere was one of excitement and anticipation. There are some very seasoned participants and there is a vast proportion of the group who for them is their first time doing anything like this. The car park was a hive of activity and I am certain the foundation for long lasting friendships. There was such camaraderie as participants tinkered with their vehicles. Lists were checked. Motors were tuned. Brakes and lights were tested. Sunscreen applied. The white metal fence kept interested onlookers at bay as we all tended our own vehicles and poked around having a look at what other cars had been hauled over oceans to participate in this remarkable event.
The storm cleared the air and looking down to the car park early in the morning was like looking down on colourful pieces of a story about to be written.
Under blue skies and clear air, officials who were wearing light blue shirts with clipboards and eyes which scrutinized every mechanical and safety detail for each car; went from car to car, being the ultimate gatekeepers to the event. I walked up to the red Official’s van with my blue paper and yellow paper; both with all the boxes ticked; and was issued with our photographs of Penny and instructions to go to the Grand Ballroom where we were to be issued with our Rally pack… which included our Route Book!
Finally! So many people (including myself) have been so keen to get our sweaty and black greasy hands on the ‘Route Book”. Within it holds the directions of our path to Paris!
Max and I scurried to our room and as the navigator I read the information so carefully making sure I didn’t miss any of the amended instructions and information. I’ve recorded the changes. I’ve highlighted any distances under 1km… and checked that ALL pages have been bound in the book. I think I’ve done all I can do now until the morning when we leave at 6am to drive from Beijing to the great Wall of China.
Our 2 hour briefing was informative and was our last chance to ask any questions and get anything sorted before we were all let loose with our route Book and Garmins.
So…. we are on our way to Paris. The elevator up to the 18th floor yesterday evening was packed with not only excitement but anticipation of the unknown. Circumstances can change in an instant. Years of preparation can come unstuck in a moment … and at the same time the possibilities of experience are infinite.
Penny is on her way!
Max has a wonderful Blog too here at his site “Adventures of Penny”… and sometimes reading both our Blog posts it seems like we aren’t even in the same country let alone the same car! … so pop to his site to get a whole different view of our journey from Peking to Paris.
Main thumbnail with much thanks to Andrew Webster.