A Travellerspoint blog

A Note on Purpose

My mission in the Republic of Mozambique

Many people have emailed me saying, "Hey that was great! Wait, why are you in Africa?" In short, I'm glad you asked.

Over 39 million individuals are infected with HIV around the world. This virus has been extremely successful in its survival, adaptation and replication, and represents the most pressing public health and human development issue of the 21st century. Although the whole world is affected, certain populations are at an elevated risk for infection. The epidemic is concentrated in the black and gay communities in the United States, however the prevalence remains low due to heightened awareness. In places like Thailand, the epidemic has been linked heavily to the commercial sex trade. In much of sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS has evolved into a female-centered epidemic. I present below a few key statistics regarding the agent and data for human development of my home country with that of my current host country:

A Tale of Two Countries

USA (1,2)
Average per capita income (in US $) = $37,500
HIV prevalence (Men 15 to 49 years) = 0.24%
HIV prevalence (Women 15 to 49 years) = 0.08%
Life Expectancy (Men) = 74.8
Life Expectancy (Women) = 80.1
Human Development Index Rank = 13/177

Mozambique (3,4)
Average per capita income (in US $) = $1,246
HIV prevalence (Men 15 to 49 years) = 9.2%
HIV prevalence (Women 15 to 49 years) = 13.1%
Life Expectancy (Men) = 44.8
Life Expectancy (Women) = 48.6
Human Development Index Rank = 172/177

1Avert.org
2CDC.gov
3“CMI Report: Gender Policies and Feminization of Poverty in Mozambique” (Tvedten, et al.)
4”INSIDA National Report”

I want to highlight two particularly striking statistics revealed by the above numbers. Mozambique has a much greater proportion of its population affected by HIV. Secondly, women represent almost 60% of new and chronic HIV infections within the country.

The strong patriarchical structure in Mozambique has been a major contributor to these disproportionate numbers. Women are not afforded the same educational opportunities and are often relegated to a lower social standing. Domestic violence is a frequent way to resolve disputes, and bride price has played a significant role in early childhood marriages. These practices not only hinder the advancement of women's rights, but deter the progress of the economy since women account for such a large portion of it. Therefore, the inequality of women acts as a social and economic deterrent for a nation. My mission is to reduce, and hopefully one day end, these disparities.

Before you start lauding the progressiveness of the United States, I would caution you to reconsider. A 2009 survey showed that women currently hold approximately 20% of the seats of the 535 seats within the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. In Mozambique, women hold 35% of the parliamentary positions. Therefore, the picture is much more complicated than it initially seems. Suffice it to say that gender issues persist in both cultures, albeit the way the disparities manifest are different.

The purpose of this passage is to provoke you to critically think about your social perceptions and how these biases propagate this inegalitarian way of thinking in our culture. Furthermore, how can you be an advocate for our mothers, sisters, and daughters in your community? We can all do things to ensure that equality is a part of our every day lives and that, before we look down on other cultures, we turn the critical lens on ourselves. This excerpt is meant to stand alone from the blog, but hey, I had to get your attention with that first entry, right? Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Posted by mbeymer 06:46 Archived in Mozambique

Charting New Territory

From the concert halls of Mozambique to the plains of Swaziland

My second week in the country went a lot smoother than the first. I attended a film at the French Cultural Center, which was produced and directed in Mozambicans, called "Love in the Time of AIDS." The film was preceded by a dance performance and a comedy act where an older man tried to get an unwilling youth to get tested for HIV. The theater was packed, and the event was a big success.

I was also invited to a friend's house for dinner with a few coworkers. We had a great time and had some awesome food. We started off with an excellent homemade humus and pita bread as an appetizer, followed by a delicious shrimp dish mixed with feta cheese. The company was great, and the dinner was fantastic. I joked with the woman who made the humus that I was going to kidnap her and force her to make the recipe round the clock. It's a good thing my boss has a sense of humor.

Freshly made humus

Freshly made humus


Saude!

Saude!

Later in the week, I was invited by a fellow coworker to see the most famous band in Mozambique. I determined that it would be criminal for an audiophile such as myself to turn down such an offer. Cherry, her husband, friend, and I staked some great seats about 10 rows up and had a fun time listening to the music of Ghorwane. It reminded me of a mix of Cuban and Brazilian music due to the heavy incorporation of percussion and brass. The trumpet player stole the show, periodically breaking out into spontaneous forms of dance with the crowd erupting in applause (video below). Every time the band tried to excuse themselves for the evening, the crowd would not have it. Masses would put there index finger in the air and wag it defiantly to indicate that they wanted to dance just a little bit more. When I recounted the story to my friend after she arrived back from South Africa on Sunday, she was fraught with jealousy as she has been coming to Mozambique for the last 18 years and still has not had an opportunity to see the band.

Chantal, Cherry and E-z

Chantal, Cherry and E-z


Ghorwane Live

Ghorwane Live


A dance led by the effervescent trumpet player

A dance led by the effervescent trumpet player

Don't just stand there...

I got about 5 hours of sleep until it was time to wake up for the next adventure. A coworker of mine had volunteered to take me to Swaziland in response to a mass email that I had previously sent around inquiring if anyone was going. He picked me up, and we drove around Maputo to fetch his three other friends. We exited Mozambique and entered Swaziland smoothly. Although I have enjoyed my time very much so far in Mozambique, I was truthfully happy to be back in a country where the national language was my native tongue.

I found out that the four of them had been friends for about 8 years and got to know each one as the day went on. They showed me pictures of their kids, talked about their political views, and one colleague even told me about his memories as a boy of the civil war in the Gaza province of Mozambique. He recounted how he would run from his village to hide in the fields when the military came and return to find friends dead in the street. It was a somber story, but it was told from the soul and gave me a personal picture on the history of Mozambique. It was great getting to know each of them, and they were a really fun group of guys to be around.

When we finally got to the reserve, they politely offered to go with me on whatever activities I wanted to do, but I could tell that they wanted to relax and imbibe in the lodge. I said that I would meet up with them later and hired a mountain bike and a guide to take me around the park, all for a mere $15. My guide, Stu, was very knowledgeable and showed me wildebeest, blue heron, hippos, impalas, blesbok and many other animals. I learned so much from our ride including how a mother hippo provides sustenance to its child, wildebeest excommunication practices and the attack patterns of a crocodile. When I returned to the lodge, the guys asked to see my pictures and urged me to try a local dish offered by the camp restaurant.

The dish that they wanted me to try was impala, and it was amazing! It doesn't taste like any other meat I have had before, and I loved it so much that I'm surprised I didn't actually swallow the bone in my taste induced euphoric state. As I ate in the lounge, I entertained myself by peering out the bay windows where hippos were playing in a pond only 20 feet from where I was sitting.

On the way back, I offered to drive since they had had a little bit to drink. This was the first time I had driven on the left, and it was a very scary experience for me. After about 40 minutes, and following a group roadside relief, we decided to switch back so that we could make it to the border before it closed that night. Plus, I found out the original driver hadn't been drinking so he was fine to drive, he just wanted to give me a chance to try the left side. We made it to the Swaziland exit border with about 20 minutes to spare, and this time rapidly deteriorated as the border guard unnecessarily questioned us about the ownership of the car. He looked about everywhere you could possibly look to ensure that the VIN number was consistent and finally decided to let us go. This gave us only 4 minutes to make it to the Mozambique entrance border, and the guards joked with us in Portuguese once we got there about how close we were cutting it. They lifted the cross bar to allow us entry with only a minute to spare.

It was certainly a 48 hours of firsts for me, and my final first was seeing the stars of the Southern hemisphere. My attempts to see the stars in South America were either thwarted by cloudy conditions or the glare of the city lights. I had more of the same for the last few weeks in Africa, but as we cruised through the countryside on the way back, I could see them clearly for the first time. I searched around for constellations that I recognized, but it was difficult for me to find familiarity. This lack of recognition was almost a metaphor for my time in Mozambique so far. The people, language, and customs all had the same basic components but were very much not the same. This seemingly simple act of staring at the stars is when it finally hit me - I really am half way around the world.

Free wicker chairs for the first 500 guests!

Free wicker chairs for the first 500 guests!


The 4 Amigos: Alberto, Valente, Lucilio, and Rafael

The 4 Amigos: Alberto, Valente, Lucilio, and Rafael


Aloe plant

Aloe plant


Warthogs having a snack

Warthogs having a snack


Lying in wait

Lying in wait


Relaxing blesbok

Relaxing blesbok


Mountain biking through Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Mountain biking through Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary


Stu presents wildebeest

Stu presents wildebeest


What you should really be afraid of in Africa

What you should really be afraid of in Africa


The March of the Hippos

The March of the Hippos


Reflecting

Reflecting


If you haven't had impala yet, I highly recommend it

If you haven't had impala yet, I highly recommend it


Safari Mosaic

Safari Mosaic

Posted by mbeymer 06:45 Archived in Swaziland

Enjoying the Finish Line

Washington D.C. and NYC

Once we completed the perilous journey across the U.S., we took down all of the equipment and leisurely drove over to my dad's friend's house in nearby Alexandria. We recounted our story to him and his wife over a late night burger at 5 guys as he told us his war stories while he was in the California Highway Patrol. The irony was not lost on us that the very individual that was harboring us was a former, and high-ranking, CHP officer. We all showered, passed out, and then awoke an indeterminate number of hours later to explore D.C. We explored the holocaust museum, the WWII memorial, and the air and space museum. You could tell that we were all a little off because my dad was persistent in trying to push open a door when it clearly said "pull" and I had trouble figuring out a water fountain. I guess 40 hours straight across the country will do that to you.

Me and Future Me

Me and Future Me

A Great Exhibit at the Holocaust Museum

A Great Exhibit at the Holocaust Museum

Bronze Reliefs at the World War II Memorial

Bronze Reliefs at the World War II Memorial

The International Space Station

The International Space Station

Me Being Inappropriate

Me Being Inappropriate

Later on, The CHP officer and his wife picked us up later on and we had dinner at an awesome Mediterranean food place near the Marine Corps Headquarters at 8th and I.

Marines Practicing at 8th and I

Marines Practicing at 8th and I

We got up the next day and took off for New York City. The drive North was rather uneventful until we got to the Lincoln Tunnel. A cacophony of horns directed at one another surrounded the entrance to the toll gate. People tried to squeeze into the adjoining lanes and got less than an inch within one other. I was amazed at how fervently these cars jockeyed for position, and keep in mind that I have lived in Los Angeles for the past year. When we arrived in the city, it was sensory overload. The buildings were so high that, upon peering out of the window at the sharpest angle possible, I was still unable to see the sky. Even in the daylight, lights flashed and everything seemed to move so quickly. It was truly a sight to behold.

After getting settled in our hotel in mid-town, we headed over to meet an old friend of mine from Officer Candidate School. We had drinks and reminisced about all times and told each others stories laughing the whole time. At about 12 AM we decided to call it quits and resign ourselves for the evening but resolved to meet up again. We walked back through Times Square where I was promptly offered "coke, weed" by a local street "vendor."

Brasky and I in front of the Pour House

Brasky and I in front of the Pour House

Times Square

Times Square

Visual Overload

Visual Overload

We went to Ground 0 in the morning and saw the temporary museum that serves In Memoriam of the victims. My favorite tribute was actually an art piece that was in the lobby of the American Express building. They didn't want to wait for the 9-11 memorial to be built, so they contracted an artist to honor their 11 employees that had died in the World Trade Center. The memorial is called "11 Tears," and as you can see by the video (below), drops are released into the fountain at scattered times to create ripples in the pool. The ripples are always overlapping in the pool, and this is supposed to symbolize the closeness and intertwined nature of the 11 employees with one another. The object in the center is a 600 lb Brazilian Quartz with 11 sides carved into it to represent each person lost.

A Window of One of the Airplanes that Struck the World Trade Center

A Window of One of the Airplanes that Struck the World Trade Center

Invoking Introspection

Invoking Introspection

Tribute

Tribute

Rebuilding Ground 0

Rebuilding Ground 0

After Andre flew back to San Diego, my Dad and I checked out Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Ellis Island was okay, but Liberty Island was really cool. The museum taught me a lot and the statue is an amazing site. The statue was meant to commemorate the 100th birthday of the country but was also strategic for France. France was under an oppressive dictator at the time, and it was a cry for help to restore the liberty that they had once enjoyed. I didn't realize this before coming to the site, but Lady Liberty's feet actually have broken chains around them which symbolize her being freed from the clutches of tyranny. The likeness for the figure is actually the artist's mother, go figure. We also explored the Empire State Building which was a complete tourist trap, but I was able to get Kate a little Gorilla as a gift and mess with the sepia setting on my camera. We rounded out the day with an awesome Italian dinner in NoHo at a place called "Bianca."

Left Justified

Left Justified

Building of the Statue in France

Building of the Statue in France

She's Almost like My Conscience...

She's Almost like My Conscience...

Easily the Coolest Building in NY - The Chrysler Building

Easily the Coolest Building in NY - The Chrysler Building

Playing with the Sepia Setting

Playing with the Sepia Setting

I Couldn't Pronounce the Name of it, but it Was Awesome!

I Couldn't Pronounce the Name of it, but it Was Awesome!

For our last day on the East coast, we decided to walk across the Brooklyn bridge and tour the UN. When we were waiting for our tour, I went over to look at the portraits of all of the UN Secretary Generals. I noticed upon further examination that they were donated by Iran, which I thought was ironic considering the current sanctions. I looked even closer, and the portraits are actually rugs (this is apparent in the third picture below of Kofi Annan). There were also some cool art pieces that preached peace. The first was created by a musician in Colombia who noticed that one of the local soldiers held his assault rifle like the musician held his guitar. He took one of these rifles and decided to make a guitar out of it to advocate for non-violence. This caught on and many others were built and given to other musicians to spread the same message.

Dad on the Bridge

Dad on the Bridge

The 8 Past and Current Secretary Generals

The 8 Past and Current Secretary Generals

Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan

Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan

Escopetarra

Escopetarra

Proposal for Peace

Proposal for Peace

UN Headquarters

UN Headquarters

We set off for the airport later that day to fly back to Sacramento and back to the real world.

Flying Home

Flying Home

Posted by mbeymer 23:23 Archived in USA

21st Century Shake Down

Maputo, Mozambique

For any of you who have traveled 13,000 miles in less than 48 hours, you know that the process can be a bit draining. Midway through my flight to Johannesburg, the captain crackled over the loudspeaker that we would be 30 minutes later arriving to our destination. I informed the flight attendant that I only had an hour between flights, and she simply stated in a smug Afrikaner accent, “oh, you won’t make it.” I was understandably not elated with this level of customer service and contribution towards solving my predicament. I was later informed by another stewardess that South African air would arrange something else to take me to my final destination once we landed.

Many of you know that I take absolute statements as a challenge. Once the plane landed, I bolted off like the plane was on fire. I ran through the terminal for almost 20 minutes, cutting lines at security checkpoints here and rushing ticketing agents there. In the process, I discovered that there were far to many shops between one side of the airport and the other. When I finally arrived out of breath like a smoker who had decided to get up and run a marathon without training, the flight agent said to me, “where do you think you’re going?”

“Hopefully to Maputo,” I replied.
“You just made it,” she wryly smiled.

Unfortunately, my bags didn’t. I was picked up at the airport, and the driver and I watched the carousel of the Maputo Airport slowly turn without my luggage. I reported the problem, happy that I had studied colors and random airport terms in Portuguese, and my bags were later flown in that night and promptly returned to me.

When I arrived at my new residence in Maputo, I found a palatial estate with 3 stories, a guard, and it even has its own ballroom. How often can one say that they have a ballroom? I met my house mates who are all very cordial and easy going individuals and then promptly passed out from all of the trip exhaustion.

My first day at work was pretty intense. A chauffeur arrived to pick me up at 7:30 AM and took me to the 8 story compound that I will work in for the coming weeks. I had 3 meetings, got a security briefing and all the while people were speaking to me in a combination of acronyms, Portuguese and science. I quickly realized that I have a lot to learn.

Continent 4 of 7

Continent 4 of 7


Have Ticket, Will Travel

Have Ticket, Will Travel


Believe it or not, this was the only channel <br />that worked for the whole 14 hour flight

Believe it or not, this was the only channel
that worked for the whole 14 hour flight


Living Area for my New Residence in Maputo

Living Area for my New Residence in Maputo


It must be cool if it has a mosquito net

It must be cool if it has a mosquito net


The view from my office (you can see the Indian Ocean in the background)

The view from my office (you can see the Indian Ocean in the background)


Practicing what we preach!

Practicing what we preach!


Our esteemed driver, Manuel

Our esteemed driver, Manuel


With my mind on my meticais and my meticais on my mind

With my mind on my meticais and my meticais on my mind

The first big lesson wasn't learned on the job, but right after work. A few house mates and I walked over to the store to get some food shortly after getting off of work. On the way back, I heard someone trying to get our attention from behind. I wasn't taking the bait, but one of my house mates turned around and started talking to one of the individuals. I couldn't make out who he was talking to in the darkness once I finally turned back, but as I walked back towards him, I realized he was talking to two cops. One cop remained silent while the other demanded to see our passports all the while with AK-47s slung over their shoulders. As my colleagues got out their documents, I immediately realized that I didn't have my passport.

Apparently, one of the laws for foreign visitors is that you need to have an authorized copy of your visa and passport at all times. My company failed to tell me this, so I just truthfully informed the guards that the items were back at my residence. I played dumb and pretended that I didn't understand any Portuguese. This just made him lecture my colleagues and I more slowly and clearly. Although I don't speak much Portuguese, the language of BS and "pay me off" is pretty much international. Having had the security briefing at the US embassy earlier that day, I decided to call the proper individual and summon the cavalry.

After 20 minutes, none of our allies had arrived and the police were clearly getting inpatient. The officer in charge finally said to us in English, "you need to come with us to the police station, it is time to go."

Fed up with this blatant attempt to extract money from us, I finally decided to respond.

"Let's cut the crap. You speak English, and I'm not going anywhere. She's not going anywhere and he's not going anywhere," I proclaimed as I pointed to my colleagues that were standing on either side of me.

"You can shoot me if you want, but I'm not moving," I concluded.

My room mate jumped in and warned me to watch what I was saying, as police man #2 decided to flash his handcuffs in a show of power. I ignored him and just got back on the phone to the security officer. Finally, a white truck with 8 people pulled up along side us. One of these individuals sauntered over to us in a crisp uniform with more shine on his epaulettes than General Patton. He kindly asked us for our passports again, and we obliged. He took the two other police men to the side and then started ripping them apart for harassing diplomats (one of my house mates had a diplomatic passport). I later found out that he was the sergeant of the Diplomatic Police. The security officer came over to us shortly after with an imposing Afrikaner associate and informed us that we were free to go. As the 4 guards walked us back to the compound, I apologized for the nuisance but had a feeling that that would not be the last time I would have a brush with the local police. What a night.

My house mates blowing off steam after the shake down

My house mates blowing off steam after the shake down

I finally got out to see Maputo in the daylight on Saturday. My housemate, Deb, and I traveled to the huge crafts market that is held near the water front each week. After perusing the wares for a substantial period of time, we spotted what we wanted and started to bargain appropriately. I talked one vendor down from 900 metacais to 600 metacais, or from about $30 to $20, for a cool tapestry and I was pretty proud of myself. The vendors would rarely touch us, but they would cleverly stick out their arm right as you tried to walk past in an effort to divert your attention to their wares. I bargained with about 3 vendors and each was very cordial, although perturbed, throughout the process.

When we decided we had enough stuff to carry/later explain to customs, we toured the city train station as well as the old fort. The train station was built by Gustav Eiffel, an architect most renowned for his construction of the Eiffel tower. If you look in the center, you can see the similarities between this building and the iconic French edifice. The architect also built an all iron house that was intended for use as a presidential residence. However, if you've ever been in an all metal room on a hot summer's day, you know that it's not the most practical material to live in.

We also toured a fort which was built in 1720 by the Dutch East India company and subsequently abandoned 10 years after its construction due to local hostility. This area was highly contested between the Portuguese and the English, but the Portuguese would eventually prevail over 100 years later in obtaining the land until Mozambique's independence in 1975.

O Sabado Mercado

O Sabado Mercado


Mozambican tapestries

Mozambican tapestries


Locals playing fusball

Locals playing fusball


The white man has landed (and then most of them died of malaria)

The white man has landed (and then most of them died of malaria)


A new white man (who hopefully won't die of malaria)

A new white man (who hopefully won't die of malaria)


The Maputo train station

The Maputo train station

I went on an architectural walking/running tour later on in the day with a few coworkers. It was actually a Hash House Harriers event which is a club with chapters all over the world. Their motto is that they're a drinking club with a running problem. I actually trained with a few of their San Diego chapter members when I was preparing for the San Diego Rock N' Roll marathon, and they are a fun if rowdy group to be around. I just never thought my first "hash" would be in Africa.

Hash House Harriers Maputo!

Hash House Harriers Maputo!


Finding beauty in asymmetry, one of the houses on the architectural tour

Finding beauty in asymmetry, one of the houses on the architectural tour



Overall, I'm enjoying my time in Mozambique so far, and I can't wait to explore all of the other sections of Southern Africa. I'm hoping to go to Swaziland, Kruger National Park and Cape Town in South Africa to name a few future weekend destinations. I hope you enjoy the blog, and as with the South America blog, please feel free to send this site to a friend if they are planning a trip to the area. Thanks for tagging along, and ate logo!

Posted by mbeymer 08:49 Archived in Mozambique

My Attempt to See if the Sign is Greener on the Other Side

An homage to Cannonball Baker, Brock Yates and the Tradition


View My Story on mbeymer's travel map.

WARNING

This blog contains videos that have explicit language; view at your own discretion.

The Tradition

In order to understand this story, it’s important for you to know my motivations for this journey. In 1971, the editor of Car and Driver magazine, the nation’s leading periodical on all things automotive, devised a plan to run an outlaw road race from the Red Ball garage in New York City to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California to commemorate the legacy of the great motorcyclist, Erwin “Cannonball” Baker. The race was an anything goes, elapsed time dash to the finish with many antics carried out and infamy earned over the four occasions that it took place (1971, 1972, 1975 and 1979). Many imitations have sprung up since its passing including the loosely inspired film “Smokey and the Bandit,” as well as the opulent “Gumball 3000” which takes place annually. I have nothing against these forms of homage, but I wanted to do something a little bit different.

As a child, I would always see an unusual sign on Interstate 80 as my family and I drove Westbound when re-entering my hometown of Sacramento, CA. The sign had the mileage for a few nearby cities which is quite typical of any interstate sign, but I thought the third city was a bit out of place – Ocean City, MD - 3073 miles (picture below). At a gathering with a couple of friends a few years later, the topic of this strange sign came up, and they told me that they had actually been to Ocean City. Furthermore, they reported that the city had a similar marker for Sacramento. I pondered this newfound knowledge and began to connect it with my love for the epic tales of the famous Cannonball runs. I started to scheme.

Since I was only 20 at the time, I knew that I did not have the financial resources or otherwise to hatch such a plot successfully. I thought that the only feasible way that I could complete said journey would be if I rented a car and drove it across the country with two other co-drivers. I researched car rentals and, in most states, you had to be at least 24 to rent a car. This disheartened me at the time, but I knew that this was too fun of an opportunity to pass up.

The Plan

Four years later, I finally propositioned my dad with the idea. I carefully laid out my plan and provided the pertinent details of my goals and reasons for such a pilgrimage. My father was known as a teenager for continually breaking traffic laws in his 1965 Ford Mustang and had a speeding ticket history that would make most professional racers blush. After pitching my idea to him, he didn’t hesitate to go along with the plan. I also recruited a fellow friend who had a similar penchant for difficult yet interesting goals. I was a little unsure as to whether he would sign on for the adventure but he agreed immediately to be the third man on the team.

We emailed back and forth about everything from radar detectors to speeding law minutiae and what types of energy drinks that would sustain us for the longest period of time. We laid ground rules, the first of which was that speeds should be kept to under 100 MPH. We reasoned that anything more would tempt the laws of physics in that the car would begin to act like a wing where any unexpected bump in the road may catapult us right out of the time trial. We also stated that each driver would drive at a pace that they felt comfortable. Finally, if any speeding costs were incurred, we would agree to split the cost of the reported violations.

We decided that I would drive first with my father navigating and Andre sleeping in the back. We would continue this rotation for the trip with the driver going for a whole tank of gas upon which he would take over the position as navigator, the navigator would go in the back to sleep, and the sleeping team member would assume the driving position. With a plan in place, we were ready to venture to the other side.

Staging

Before we left, we wanted to be prepared. We had a packing list that included food, water, the aforementioned energy drinks, a $500 radar detector (worth every penny as we later discovered), a GPS system, and even an SLR mounted to the rear dash to take time lapse photos. As you can see, we wanted to do this right. We got out to the sign and after taking a couple of quick pictures, and we were off.

The journey was filled with laughter, frustration, fatigue, boredom, anxiety, close calls and the smell of old bananas which we later called "versa" after the car that we were driving. The videos and pictures below have accompanying explanations for what went down and how we coped with it. The videos were taken immediately after the incidents transpired and are the most accurate depictions of my feelings on the journey.

The Silver Bullet

The Set-up

The Set-up


The Start of Our Journey

The Start of Our Journey


That Peculiar Sign and My Quest to See its Counterpart

That Peculiar Sign and My Quest to See its Counterpart


...And We're Off!

...And We're Off!

Bored in Nevada, Fatigued in Omaha

We had the advantage of going through Nevada at night. For those of you who have driven across Nevada, you know that it is nothing special. In fact, I actually got excited when we saw a tunnel because I was so bored. Nebraska is just like Nevada, except wider and green. We did see a lot of close calls in Nebraska including a couple of cops that ended up pulling over more zealous drivers - see "no radar detector." If it wasn't for the Pontiac drivers of the world, we would probably be a few hundred dollars poorer. If you watch the first video, you can see me sticking the video out of the passenger window at about 10 seconds into the video which shows the sheriff pulling over another driver who mistakenly took one for the team.

The Most Interesting Thing in Nevada? A Tunnel

The Most Interesting Thing in Nevada? A Tunnel

Almost Caught

My Thoughts of the Sites

Frustrated in Illinois, Barely Awake in Ohio

Illinois was the hardest part of my drive. I got into the state at about 12:30 AM local time, and the traffic was inconsistent to say the least. I would get stuck behind slow big rigs, and speed past them only to have them later speed past me. On top of that, the radar detector kept lighting up with extremely strong signals but with no cops in sight. In my immense fatigue, I didn't realize what was going on. I later asked a former highway patrolmen and was informed that Illinois has 24-hour speed cameras perched in certain places. Therefore, the truckers were probably only going slow in these locations and speeding up where they weren't present. I guess I'll have to wait for my financial contribution invitation card to the State of Illinois to come in the mail.

By the time I transitioned to the navigator position after my 3rd shift, I was having a hard time keeping it together. Somewhere in Ohio, Andre asked me if I was okay to which I snapped awake immediately and answered, "I'm good!" He asked me something about Ebola in the thoughts that describing deadly diseases would perk me up, sick I know, and that worked for a minute. In mid-sentence of my explanation, I trailed off saying "Uhhh, I forgot my backpack." I had not actually forgotten my backpack, but it was getting hard for me to distinguish between the dream world and reality. Right after I said this nonsensical statement, I said "wait, wait, that's not what we were talking about was it?" I proceeded to get really confused, and Andre declared that my brain had officially performed an emergency reboot. We pulled over, rotated, and I passed out for all of Pennsylvania before my fourth and last shift in Maryland.

Yep, Nothing in Iowa

Yep, Nothing in Iowa


I'll leave it to you

I'll leave it to you


Click It

Click It


Bug Carnage at a Gas Stop in Iowa

Bug Carnage at a Gas Stop in Iowa


A Picturesque Backdrop

A Picturesque Backdrop


Chasing the Dark

Chasing the Dark

Fatigued and Furious

The Final Leg

It's amazing what four hours of sleep can do. When I woke up in Maryland for the last shift, I was ready to go. We blazed through Maryland until we hit the US 50 bridge over Chesapeake Bay. I thought we were definitely going to make it under 40 hours, but we proceeded to drive over 50 miles on a painfully-slow, one-lane country highway in order to complete the last leg. The Maryland highway patrol were out, but they weren't using radar which made speeding even more dangerous. We finally crested the last bridge into Ocean City, saw the sign, hastily parked and stopped the clock. We had driven 2,836 miles in 40 hours, 17 minutes and 41 seconds, and had not been pulled over once. Andre looked at the official times for the 4 cannonball rallies, and our time was near the median in the field. Since traffic conditions were lighter in the 70s, the police enforcement scant, and the engines often more powerful, we felt satisfied at the time we posted.

The Interstate 50 Bridge over Maryland's Chesapeake Bay

The Interstate 50 Bridge over Maryland's Chesapeake Bay


The Final Leg

The Final Leg


Andre and I Celebrating Under the Sign

Andre and I Celebrating Under the Sign


Watson and Beymer

Watson and Beymer


The End of the Line

The End of the Line


Our Final Time

Our Final Time


A Beautiful End to a Seemingly Endless Day

A Beautiful End to a Seemingly Endless Day

Through a combination of advanced technology, skilled navigating and an immense amount of luck, we were able to come in safe and reminisce about all the crazy close calls and other shenanigans that went down. I hope you enjoyed the story and hope this inspires you to remember that you may only live once and that life is a gift, not a promise.

Posted by mbeymer 14:21 Archived in USA

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