Friday, April 10, 2015

Great Escape Round-the-World Scavenger Hunt 2015: FIJI

Today is my favorite time of the year … the annual start of the Great Escape round-the-world scavenger hunt.  This year, the Great Escape trip organizers (Bill and Pamela Chalmers) have promised we will visit 10 countries in 5 continents over the next 23 days. We leave tonight from Los Angeles and our first destination is Fiji (which is awesome because I have never been there).  We have no idea where we are going past that country. And we will not be told the next destination until 4 hours before we leave Fiji.  The trip is designed to be a “blind date with the world”… And all to raise money for charity. What could be better than a great adventure for a good cause.
The rules are simple: for the next three weeks, we will compete against 8  other teams by taking on challenges, solving riddles, deciphering codes and finding obscure items in countries all around the world.  We will spend 1-4 days in each country and will undertake dozens of scavenges at each stop.  Since we are not allowed to use any technology to guide our way (no Google, no internet searches, no help from hotel concierges), the competition is designed to truly test your wits as an international traveler.  Language barriers will make us great at charades.   Getting lost will be a daily test. Being pushed outside of our comfort zone will be a consistent - and scary – reality.  The Great Escape event is thrilling … and hard … and magnificent.
This year’s teams include:
Rainey and myself: This is our 8th time on the trip.  Rainey had a pretty serious injury three days ago (he dislocated his hip) so we will be participating at a more cautious level than usual.  No running around twenty hours per day.  But we are still going to do as much as we can and are again Team "Lawyers Without Borders."

My sons: Ben (19 years old and on a gap year between high school and college) and Jordan (15 years old and a freshman in high school).  They have both been on the trip before (it is Ben’s second time and Jordan’s third time) but never together.  My boys fight famously with each other so the real trick will be just getting them around the world without them killing each other.  They are competing as the "Tatakau Brothers" (Japanese word which means warriors as well as fighters... pretty appropriate). 

Our dear friends, Alan and Michael:  Alan Emtage is from Barbados and is world-renowned as the creator of the first internet search engine (the precursor technology to what is now Google).  Alan and Michael live half the year in Barbados and half the year in Provincetown and this trip falls right in their transition time.  They are extremely well-traveled so they will likely have been to many of our destinations already. Indeed, Alan is the only one in the group who has ever been to Fiji before.  So glad to have them on board. Their team name is "Hello World."

The other teams are: Two repeat competitor teams: Fiona and Katrina (sisters from Australia: "The Sidney Sisters") and a retired couple (Michael and Anita: "Captain Marvel and the Pi Baby")
Plus a mother-daughter team ("Savvy Scavengers"); a doctor and nurse couple who got married last weekend and are on the trip as their honeymoon ("Buns and Bird"); Erik Walker (a lawyer from Austin) and a couple from New Orleans.

Let the games begin.....!!!!!


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