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A Not-So-Typical Travel Day

27 October 2009 665 Comments

So I just read this blog post from my friend Dan Snyder from another team in Montenegro.  I laughed out loud for at least 20 minutes.  Not only because of the absurdity of their situation, but also because I have been in their boat numerous times on the race.  (Well, not exactly in their boat, or rather, bus in this case).  My teammates and I often find ourselves saying, “is this really our life?!”  From sitting in a random women’s conference in Serbia to giving our testimonies at a moments notice to eating roasted lamb in a park with a bunch of Croatians – we are learning to expect the unexpected at all times on the Race.  I love this post because it gives you a look into a travel day for us. While Dan’s post is the worst case scenario, I will say that our last travel day was 13 hours long and consisted of us going train, bus, train, bus, train, van to our destination…only to sleep for 5 hours and then get on another train to our final stop.  So I hope you enjoy a look into the life of a World Race Travel Day:

*** As written by Dan Snyder*****

so team seven camels and unwritten took a 24 hour bus ride from bar, montenegro to istanbul, turkey.  here is a recap of the events (thanks to my boy don brensinger for this idea):

4:11 AM: i surprisingly wake up before my alarm goes off

4:13 AM: i go into the girls room and find that two of the girls have explosive diarrhea…awesome

5:00 AM: our ministry contact, micah, picks us up in the alley…after she turns around using the ever-so-famous 9 point turn we start loading the van

5:35 AM: we all make it safe to the bus station (thanks micah)

5:45 AM: anna realizes that she stole a lid and plate from micah (sorry micah)

6:00 AM: our bus fails to show up and we realize that it must’ve been day light savings time or something…because all the clocks are an hour behind

5:15 AM (yeah, i know i know the time went backwards): i begin a nice conversation with an elderly serbian woman

5:23 AM: while trying to figure out daylight savings time the nice lady tells me that her daughter designs bras in NYC

5:25 AM: i offer the nice lady a bite of my swiss cake roll and she politely declines

6:00 AM: (the real 6AM): our bus shows up

6:10 AM: we take off and the first cigarette is lit in the bus

6:11 AM: we are yelled at in some foreign language that we need to sit two in each row…but we are the only passengers in the bus

6:15 AM: i fall asleep

8:13 AM: we pull over on the side of the road

8:13:15 AM: a few of the bus workers jump off the bus and start loading boxes of shoes onto the bus

8:14 AM: we quickly realize that the boxes of shoes are all being stacked under our chairs

8:27 AM: we stop at a bus stop.  we pick up the montenegro national smoking team

8:27:53 AM: i get off the bus to use the bathroom and find that it’s a squatty potty.

8:28 AM: i realize that the last 4 guys that have used the squatty potty before me have poor aim

8:28:05 AM: i decide i don’t have to pee that bad

8:30 AM: i get back on the bus and am overwhelmed by a cloud of cigarette smoke from the MNST (montenegro national smoking team)

8:36 AM: rebecca now looks like michael jackson.  she is wearing a red bandanna over her nose/mouth and has black sunglasses on to protect her from the plume of smoke that has overcome the bus

8:42 AM: i fall asleep

9:05 AM: callan witnesses the MNST gather the shoes from under the seats and secretly stack them under blankets in the back of the bus

11:13 AM: we stop at a bus stop and the shoes are offloaded.  yeah, we have no idea either

11:37 AM: we stop at another bus stop and change out bus drivers…our driver is no longer purple shirt guy, its brown argyle sweater guy

12:15 PM: lunch time.  i make a PB&J with no utensils while carefully balancing it on my lap the whole time…quite the skill considering brown argyle sweater guy’s driving ability…or lack there of

12:17 PM: i put my sandwich together successfully and smile

12:17:20 PM: my sandwich falls off my leg and rolls down the walkway and i frown

12:17:25 PM: i am able to rescue my sandwich within the five second rule and eat it

12:36 PM: we stop at a bus station and several of the MNST start running around.  they begin loading unknown items which are stashed all around the americans…yeah, sketch

12:42 PM: i begin to drift asleep but am awoken by a cat meowing

12:42:08 PM: perplexed, i begin looking around for the cat

12:42:10 PM: i hear the cat meow and begin to suspect that it’s fake and that it’s coming from purple shirt/blue argyle sweater vest guy

12:47 PM: i confirm that the cat call is coming from purple shirt/blue argyle sweater vest guy after he lets out a gentle meow

2:17 PM: purple shirt guy, who was once our bus driver and is now our barista, offers us nescafe…for the 7th time…i suspect that it’s a bribe so that we won’t tell customs about the sketchy stuff goin’ down in the bus

2:20 PM: chad, who is translating for the bus manager, yells at me for having my foot up on the seat…i should’ve known that the red no smoking signs really meant “no feet on the seat”

5:13 PM: rebecca hands holland a bandanna that will easily function as a smoke mask

5:29 PM: holland asks if we’re getting punked and asks ashton kutcher to stop the madness

6:00 PM: we stop on the side of the road and pick up two guys.  one of the guys, whom i will call “big guy” looks exactly like the “gas guy” from dumb and dumber

6:00:15 PM: i am kicked out of my seat so that big guy has a seat and i cuddle up with patch

6:00:20 PM: big guy lights up his first cigarette which will remain a constant until he falls asleep several hours later

6:00:25 PM: big guy starts passing out cigarettes like they’re candy to his friends on the bus…we are now having an ol’ fashioned smoke-fest

6:01 PM: i decide to ask the bus manager why we have to sit in pairs and no one else does.  as i should have known, the language barrier presents a slight problem and patch and i go back to cuddling
8:09:45 PM: we enter the serbia/bulgaria border checkpoint

8:10 PM: i have to ask holland to take her red bandanna and aviator shades off so we can get through the checkpoint without getting shot

8:25 PM: we make it through customs

8:34 PM: rebecca, still wearing her mask and shades, gets into a standoff with an elderly woman over whether or not the overhead vent will be shut.  the woman is smoking her 42nd cigarette and loses to our MJ look-a-like, the vent stays open

8:39 PM: i fall asleep

9:01 PM: i am awoken by big guy snoring loud enough to wake up an entire bus…literally

10:30 PM: we stop at a gas station for a bathroom break.  i ask adam if it was just my imagination or if the big guy was snoring.  adam kindly reminds me of how i kept the entire mens room up three nights ago with my snoring…and tells me that he didn’t want to hear my complaining

11:00 PM: the bus leaves the gas station suddenly

11:02 PM: bread falls out of the overhead storage compartment.  i take it as a clear sign that i should fashion a piece of bread into a gas mask…but i hold out

11:30 PM: big guy falls over in his sleep and head butts the window.  holland starts laughing uncontrollably.  i have no idea how big guy’s head didn’t go through the window

11:32 PM: big guy starts to lean over into the walkway while sleeping.  he nearly falls into robin’s lap on several occasions

11:32:29 PM: jen shines her headlamp onto big guy in an attempt to keep him from falling over into the walkway and/or robin’s lap.  its successful…big guy leans back into his chair

11:40 PM: we go off-roading in the bus.

11:40:15 PM: we stop in front of a shady shop that sells stuffed animals, barbies, liquor, pastries and cologne so that the guys can offload the second load of smuggled goods

11:48 PM: we leave the SS (shady shop)

12:55 AM: big guy exhales and spits saliva all over as if he is a whale

1:20 AM: we make it to the bulgaria/turkey border checkpoint and park in front of the burger king sign

1:24 AM: the bus manager stares at beks’ foot, which is on the arm rest, until she moves it

1:30 AM: brown argyle sweater driver guy decides he’s tempted the americans long enough and leaves the burger king sign and drives to passport control

2:00 AM: we make it through customs with only one bag being searched, sorry anna

2:10 AM: we drift off to sleep again

2:13 AM: purple shirt/blue argyle sweater guy meows while walking down the isle

2:13:02 AM: jen barks hoping to scare the cat into silence

3:19 AM: i’m jarred awake by brown argyle sweater guy jamming on the brakes, i think it’s because he knew we were all finally asleep

4:10 AM: the lights on the bus come on waking us up

4:10:30 AM: the bus manager tells me that we are in istanbul as the bus stops on the side of the road

4:11 AM: we decide that the side of the road is better then wherever else the bus may take us

4:15 AM: we get off the bus and hear a loud muslim prayer being played over a loud speaker

4:20 AM: the bus pulls away to reveal that we are standing across the street from a mosque which is playing said loud prayer over a loud speaker.  we begin to pray and look up to see a street pole that says “TRUST” in plain english on it…coincidence?  i think not.  pretty amazing.

12:24 PM: after a long day of walking, talking and trying to find a place to sleep we are sitting in the lobby of a hostel that our logistics people found.  it’s super cheap and it’ll get the job done!  god is great!


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