Tuesday, April 29, 2008


We set off from Athens two days across to get ourselves across several countries and into Bucharest by tomorrow night. First stop was Meteora to the "For Your Eyes Only" mountain or column Very neat town.

After that we got as far as Thessaloniki (a seaside town in the North of Greece) by train - in time to have a very late dinner and sleep for a few hours. The next day we were up early doing the Thesssaloniki challenges before we headed out. We had planned to go to Macedonia (a very confusing place since it is what used to be Yugoslavia - and is now called Macedonia - but the Northern area of Greece is also called Macedonia so every question we asked was suitably muddled). After one phone call and a personal visit to the train station, we realized that because of the Easter holidays, we could not get to Stopje and on to Tetovo in Macedonia by the end of the day. So we ended up dumping that entire set of scavenges and headed out instead by bus to Sofia in Bulgaria. We arrived in Sofia about 9 PM - immediately hailed a cab and did some scavenges in Sofia - and then took an 11:30 PM night train all the way across Bulgaria to the Black Sea. We woke up the next day in Varna, Bulgaria. Despite our best efforts, we did not end up with a sleeper car so we had to spend the night laying across regular train chairs. The train was SOOOO cold that about 2 AM I got up and put on 3 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of pants, 4 shirts, my raincoat and wrapped my head in a T-shirt. The train conductor busted out laughing when he came in the next morning to wake us. We stayed in Varna less than 2 hours before we headed out again to Russe - a town on the Danube that is half in Romania and half in Bulgaria. There we went to this really cool monastery that is carved into the hills called the Rock monastery

From Russe we crossed into Bucharest and caught a late afternoon train to Brussov. This is where Dracula's castle (or Dram's Castle) is - and we are going there first thing in the morning. I cannot wait. It sounds creepy and interesting.

The main scavenge points for tonight goes to the team that stays in the the cheapest hotel. We took on the challenge and started asking at the train station for the cheapest hostel or pensione. We were directed to this old man who agreed to rent us a room in his hostel for 15 Euros plus 5 Euros for transport to it. We agreed and headed off in his car (with thoughts of the movie "Hostel" playing in our mind - would anyone ever see or hear from us again). When we arrived we realized that it is his private home and he rents out his second bedroom. It is beyond modest -and in to downright humble. The mattresses are bare and he loaned us one sheet and two hand towels. We share a bathroom with him. As soon as we arrived he broke out the alcohol and sat and talked to for us for almost an hour while he made Rainey drink shots of tuica (luckily a food scavenge anyway - so we killed two birds with one stone). After being on trains and buses for almost two straight days just laying flat will be a luxury but this may be a double Ambien night - if nothing else just to avoid my paranoia about flesh eating parasites living in the bare mattresses.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Now starts the really interesting leg of the trip. We arrived in Athens on Saturday afternoon, had a really fun dinner all together in the Platka and then - at 9 PM - got told that we are "on our own" for the next 4 days. In that time, we have to plot our way (hitting as many scavenges as possible) through Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania and end up in Bucharest by Wednesday night at 9 PM. We got handed an envelope of cash for trains and hotels and sent on our way. But the real trick... it's Easter in Greece and everything is either closed or working at 1/4 pace for the next two days. And you cannot use the concierge to answer questions - but NOTHING is open. Quite a challenge!!Rainey and I started out that night doing all of our Athens mandatory scavenges and doing the ones that were close to the hotel. Then we got up really early the next day and finished up what we could do in Athens (the Acropolis at sunrise is awe-inspiring) and decided to head out of Greece. Even that was a trick because only a handful of buses were running and very few trains. We set out for Meteora (an amazing and beautiful town in the hills). Buses to Meteora were cancelled all day and there was only one train in and out in the afternoon - which was the slow, slow, train (stopping at every little town). It took us most of the day to get there. And when we arrived in Meteora, we realized that there were no taxis and the left luggage spot was closed, so we had to haul our suitcases with us almost 3 miles through the town and up to the Meteora columns. This computer that I am on will not let me upload photos but I will try and get to an internet cafe later to show you how fantatistic it was. The clue for the Meteora scavenge was to photograph the Meteora columns that are for your eyes only. We had no idea what that meant and neither did anyone in town until Rainey recognized that the James Bond movie "For Eyes Only" was filmed in part at one of the monasteries on the rocks - which we took tons of photos of. (see photo below from the internet which will have to do until I can get my stuff up here)The excursion cost us some time but was well worth it. Its unfortunate that with the holidays no other team was able to see it (although I guess they were smarter to do quicker scavenges). In fact, there was literally NO-ONE on the one train with us to Meteora yesterday as everyone was home eating their Easter lunch. We managed to get out to Meteora and to Thessaloniki late last night, slept a few hours in a hotel here, and are now on our way out.... I will try and get photos uploaded later.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Observations from Asia

i just realized I didn't publish this post the other day-- so it's a big out of order!
We had an amazing experience to see such a cross-section of Asia in just about 10 days: From China - to Malaysia - to Singapore to Nepal. Some thoughts and comments so far:

- Flush toilets are obviously a Western luxury. I have seen more holes in the ground and squat toilets than I ever need to see again.

- There are no diet drinks. Asians apparently really like the taste of sugar (works out good as i do too!).

- In Nepal, the cows are everywhere because it is an 80% Hindu country and the Hindus believe that cows are sacred. The cows literally are in the middle of every street (causing even greater traffic jams than usual), at every market (eating whatever they want from the stalls) and in every alleyway.

- Shoes are generally optional

- Mutton and very odd fish items are favorites

- The women are relegated to doing some of the hardest jobs – including carrying pounds and pounds of weight in grass on their heads each day from the riverside where they cut it back to their home for their water buffalo.

Grocery store has a whole new meaning when it is really just a woman in a beautiful sari sitting in a shack with some hanging items and 2 shelves of packaged goods (every piece of which has expired more than 6 months ago). And yes, out of sheer hunger, we have had our share of totally stale biscuits and almost moldy potato chips.

All and all-- just a great trip!! I miss everyone though!!! (Benny, Jordy-- this means YOU!!)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

See The Pyramids along the nile... watch the sunset from a tropic isle

This trip is soooooooooooo a Bob Dylan song!
We arrived in Cairo to find it hot, full of traffic.. and wonderful. How can anyone complain when the view from the bar of the hotel is the pyramids....

Favorite scavengers in Cairo:
(a) First, go to the main souk or bazaar and buy a traditional Egyptian headdress and then ride a camel to the pyramids wearing the headdress (and we could chose which of the ridiculous headdresses we wanted to embarrass ourselves with). I choose the scarf with baubles (a charming wrap) and Rainey chose the shriner’s hat.

But what an amazing view, you round a sand dune and there are the three great pyramids right in front of you. WOW!!! Plus it is so hard to imagine that while the Egyptians were hauling these gigantic rocks up the Nile from Aswan in the South and building mathematically perfect pyramids, much of the rest of the world was still living in caves.
(b) Eat roast pigeon. Yes, I got the unlucky job since there was no way Rainey was putting that in his mouth. You know what they say … it all tastes like chicken (but it's pigeon Rainey reminds me... yeah, thanks... )

(c) Smoke a sheesha in a traditional Cairo gahwa: Each table has a huge smoking pipe and the waiter comes along and plunks the lighted tobacco into the pipe. Can’t be any worse for our lungs than the pollution of Beijing

(d) Visit the statute of Ramses II in Memphis and describe what position he is in? And the answer is… lying down. He is magnificient.

(e) We had to visit the largest mosque in Cairo and actually go inside – which required me to put on a very attractive robe…

Greatest sights from Egypt

- They have delivery service for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Not unlike pizza, you can call and get KFC delivered to you by moped anywhere in Cairo. Who knew??? (at least it's not Kentucky Fried Pigeon)

- In some beautiful gardens in Alexandria, the gardener was obviously having some fun with the shrubbery.

We had a great stay in Cairo .. and even managed to eat a nice dinner one night.. had lots of fun... and even a night of actual sleep.

The below are from our day trip to Alexandria!! WE ARE OFF TO GREECE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kathmandu - Volunteer work (AND OFF TO CAIRO)

After our flight to Mount Everest, we had to spend the rest of the day volunteering at a charity here in Kathmandu. We chose to do our work at the SOS villages: they have two facilities here: a home for disabled and mentally handicapped children as well as a home for abandoned, orphaned or displaced children. It was really inspiring. The staff were some of the most compassionate and gentle people I have ever met - and the kids were just great. One little girl (aged 2) lost both legs in a fire when she was 6 months old so her mother dumped her at the facility because she was too much too handle. She was so beautiful. When we asked the director what were the greatest needs for the home, he shared with us a list of things that the Children's Committee had voted as things they wanted to save up for. The Children's Committee is an organization made up of the children of the SOS villages - and each child gets to vote on, and decide, virtually everything of importance in the facility - from rules to punishment to what they are going to fund raise for. Top of the list was the need for a TV for the common room so they could have "movie night" once a week. (They already have the DVD player but only a very small TV so all of the children could not watch together). We immediately got in a taxi, went to an electronics store, bought a large new color TV (which was ridiculously cheap as it was some knock-off brand from China) and delivered it back to the home. They were beyond excited. The photograph is of one of the bedrooms for some of the girls. The older girls get their own bed - the younger ones share a bed. Aren't they beautiful?

Here's Rainey at the electronics store. We had to end up getting a separate taxi to haul the TV back to the home.

We just found out that we are leaving tonight for Bahrain. We spend the night there and leave tomorrow AM for Cairo. We are staying at a hotel at the pyramids which apparently looks right out at the pyramids. We can't wait !!! I have always wanted to go to Egypt - and here we are - on our way. I will send details of Cairo once we are there.

Mount Everest

We got up at 5 AM this morning to take a plane flight over the Himalayas to see Mount Everest. It is breathtaking - and seems like an impossible feat to climb (Randy-- if you are reading-- we are going to be crazy impressed if you really do this). I took this shot out the plane window.

"Thats why Im going to katmandu.Up to the mountains where Im going to..."

And if I ever get out of here,Thats what Im gonna do.K-k-k-k-k-k katmandu.Thats really, really where Im going to.If I ever get out of here, Im going to katmandu." -bob seger

We returned to Kathmandu from Tiger Tops and had to do a number of scavenges in the city this afternoon which took us from one end of the town to the other. We have seen more markets and temples than you can count. The poverty of the city is truly overwhelming. Just as one example, the market had an astounding array of unsual food times including these - goat heads ( I know, I know ... GROSS).

Very tired ... very hungry ... world travelers


OH.MY.GOD. We just had the most amazing experience at Tiger Tops: a mountain safari camp in the Chitwan national park. We flew out there yesterday, spent the night at the camp and then came back by bus today (the scavenger rules did not allow us to fly both ways so that we would have to experience 6 hours of the countryside of Nepal up close and personal in a very crowded and un-air conditioned bus. Rainey sweated off at least 6 lbs).

First you fly over there in a small, prop plane which bumps and shakes all through the Himalayas - beyond scary.

Once we got into the safari lodge, and got settled into our room, we were picked up by the elephants for a safari ride in the jungle. We rode on the backs of the elephants (on a wooden platform that sways in every direction - the elephants have a very unnatural gait which makes you feels like you are being shaken in a blender). Rainey's second elephant episode went better than the first and he avoided the water. Knowing Rainey this will soon be his preferred mode of transporation (if only elephants came in black!)

(i love this photo.... sort of an "elephants in the mist" vibe

Seeing a tiger in the wild is very rare – but about an hour into our safari – the guides picked up the paw print of a Royal Bengal tiger and started tracking it. We came across the tiger (a 4-5 year old male) in the deep tall brush – where you could barely see it. The tiger had just finished eating a baby rhino and so he was full and happy. All of a sudden, the tiger walked out of the brush and into the open and stood right beside us (not more than 15 feet away). It was one of the greatest experiences ever. He was a majestic and magnificent animal. I have to say.... I'm crazily proud of this photo (National Geographic eat your heart out!!).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Today was our first full day in Kathmandu and we started it off early this morning at a Hindu temple on the river where they burn the bodies of the dead. The photos shows the body on the funeral pyre on a ghat (a ceremonial slab that is on the edge of the river). As soon as the body is fully burned, the ashes are dumped into the river. We learned all of the rituals of death - so interesting - and such a different approach to the whole dying process. To the Hindus, death is just a passing of the mortal body and is an opportunity for rebirth.

Rainey and I are getting blessed by a "holy man" - who is really a lot like our crazy homeless (wears very little clothes, talks to himself) but is apparently filled with good spirits. We are on our way now (currently at the airport) to Tiger Tops, a elephant safari camp in the mountains in an area where the Royal Bengal tiger still runs free.

If you can throw a coin and actually hit the small pot at the gold statue's feet, you gain great luck. Rainey nailed it on the second try and got a round of applause from the crowd. We are now fully topped up with all of the necessary karma and great fortune.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


the new scores just got posted and Rainey and I are still in second place. YEAH !!!! The first place team is a two man team - and both of them have literally been everywhere in the world. In fact, we have yet to go to a place that they have not already been. So they will be basically impossible to catch. But we are giving them a real run for their money.


We arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal this afternoon and were shocked by the poverty. This is by far the poorest and most under-developed country that we have visited so far. Most houses have no electricity or water so at night the city is dark with only a candle or two in many homes. Yet the people are kind and gentle and extremely polite. The women dress in the most beautiful of saris - the colors of the rainbow. Our hotel is very nice - in sharp contrast to the rest of the city (The photo is of the hotel lobby). We are going to be here for 3 days and have to spend one of those days working at either an orphanage or the Tibetan refugee camp (I cannot even imagine the conditions of those facilities).

I have a mark of red dust on my forehead as we were met at the hotel by the manager who performed the traditional Nepalese welcome prayer for us - and put red marks on everyone's head.

Rainey got besieged by two beautiful Nepalese girls in the market who conned him into buying two screen printed purses. He refused to barter with them and ended up paying full price (about $1.80) for two hand-made purses.


The Singapore rally ended with a drink at the famous Raffles Hotel Long Bar - with Singapore slings!!! We spent the Malaysian peninsula rally in an alliance with another team: a mother and daughter team who are acclaimed bestselling authors. By the time of this photo, we had not slept more than 3 hours in close to a week - which probably explains why we are looking a little rough.
One of the eating scavenges in Kuala Lumpour: We were asked to go to a locals-only market and "make a new friend and have a drink with them" *you know we are soooo good at being social and making new friends! ha) So this is Rainey with a local drinking a sort of milk chocolate (made with water, chocolate powder and condensed milk) and served cold over ice. The custom is to pour the drink into a plastic bag with a straw and the bag is tied with a tight red ribbon and the ribbon is made into a handle so you carry the bag and drink from the straw. Only after we drank it, did we think about the fact that we were warned to not drink the water - or ice!!! Luckily, so far, no ill effects.

this challenge was to "ride a bike in a Hutong in Beijing". Hutongs are the poor alley-like areas filled with people and stores. We paid a bicycle rickshaw driver to let us ride his bike down one of the streets.

Rainey and Mia ( a girl from another team that we are in an alliance with) eating a type of beef jerky made from pig's tail - in a market in Singapore (I had to have a local tell Rainey it tasted like chicken teriyaki before i could get him to do this!).

This is Rainey riding the elephant in the river for its bath - as soon as they got midway into the river - the elephant rolled over and dumped Rainey straight into the river... and yes, with our luck he is now the proud owner of some awful Malayasian parasite..

This is me rubbing the belly of a monkey at a Hindu temple in Beijing for luck (does the monkey appear tobe grinning at me??)

Friday, April 18, 2008

fav challenges!

Ok, I have just a few more minutes to get this blog caught up before jumping on a plane….. I have to say…. The best prep for this trip? TRIAL…. The similarities are endless--- no sleep, your mind is running 24-7 and you give up a lot of luxuries (like eating 3 meals a day!). But we are seriously having so much fun and knowing we are supporting such great charities just makes it 1000x better!! Ok some of our favorite “challenges” to-date?
(a) Hindu pilgrimage in Kaola Lumpor: We had to go to one temple to start the pilgrimage and then go to the end of the pilgrimage route which was another temple built in the hills - with a 100 foot gold statute of a Hindu god and next to it is a step flight of stairs up and into a gigantic cave. All off the way up the stairs - there are wild monkeys sitting on the banisters who try and steal you hat and sun glasses... and chat to you. Lots of naught baby monkeys making mischief. (b) Hell Money in Singapore - in Chinatown we had to find, buy and burn some "hell money" which turns out to be large paper monopoly like money that you burn to buy your way out of hell (just to be on the safe side, we bought a whole stack of it). (c) First Red Herring Scavenger (there are a few that are purposefully un-doable to trick us): We decided to do the scavenge in Beijing that told us to go to the courthouse and watch a court proceeding. Us dumb-dumbs actually went all the way over to the huge and beautiful court building - only to find armed guards at the gate house (the erst of the compound was ringed with very tall fences). So we start talking and gesticulating and asking whether we can go in -- we get told to wait by this counter and within 5 minutes an official PR person from the Chinese Government arrives who wanted to know who we were, why we were there and who explained quite patiently that their courts are closed to both chinese residents and especially foreigners - and without official government permission - no-one can go in. And they mean NO-ONE. So it was a wasted hour and no points .. but what a real eye-opener. (d) Bumboat in Singapore - We had to take an old, stinky bum boat up the river that runs through Singapore. What a contrast between the boat (a local mode of transportation) and the new, very modern skyscrapers.(e) Enter Toto: That was all the scavenge said. It is not pronounced the way you think so it took us 5 false starts before someone recognized what we wanted - which was a lottery ticket for the Singapore lottery. It draws today and we now have a ticket - so maybe we'll win big money ...and never come back.... (one can always hope).


What a beautiful city. So clean and modern compared to where we have been (and they even have real flushing toilets - such a luxury). We have been here less than a day and we are now on to Nepal (Kathmandu). We must have run 7 or 8 miles yesterday all across the city - from market place to government building to playing May Jong with locals at a private gaming association (yes, we had to do some fast talking to get ourselves into that one... but what nice people).

I will try and upload some photos when we get to Nepal. I am now at a computer in the airport which does not allow you to upload. We are having a great time. We have not slept more than 3 hours a night in a week and we generally eat only breakfast each day... (restaurants take too much time) ... as well as the required scavenger food (which is generally somethign odd from a marketplace).


At the check-in point for the China scavengers, we were told that we were heading to KL in Malaysia. We again hit the road running (and I mean literally running - in order to gain time advantages, you have to run through the cities because walking would put you behind time wise - thank good for all that half-marathon training). In Malaysia, we went out to an elephant conservatory in the hills and had to feed, ride on and bathe the elephants. Rainey rode one of the elephants into the river and swam and bathed them. To try and get extra points, we left the hotel late the second night and took a night train to a coastal town (Melaka) so we could get up at 5 AM and do some scavengers there before we headed on to Singapore.


We landed in Beijing after 19 hours on planes - and were handed scavenger booklets. So off we went again - to Tiannemen square where we had to buy a kite and find a chinese kid to fly the kite with. Once we left the US there are now eating scavengers in each place - to make us try the local food. Some have been great - and some just AWFUL. The next day we went to the Great Wall of China and walked all over it (so cool). And then we raced around Beijing for the next day and a half doing dozens of scavengers. We had to find hidden places in the city and unravel clues. We even got into an accident on a moped rickshaw (our driver ran over an old man - no serious injuries but lots of yelling in chinese). We went on a scavenger to a restaurant where no-one spoke english and the menu was in chinese... we ordered what we thought was soup (after full-scale charades) and got a bowl of cold orange liquid with jello-like lumps in it (no idea what that was). We also had to go to a Lama Temple where we watched the monks praying in their temple. At another temple, we had to buy these little metal disks and throw them at a bell that is under a bridge - if you hit the bell and make it ring you get good luck (Rainey hit it twice - I am without any luck). What a great scam - sell people disks that they then throw at our bell - then they leave and you collect up the disks and sell them to the next person. Beijing is SOOO polluted that by day 2 my eyes were inflamed and my sinus felt on fire.


WHAT a week it has been. We left Las Vegas just over a week ago from the Mass Torts Made Perfect Convention and headed for San Francisco. It was great to see everyone in Vegas so we were sad to leave early. Check-in time was 3 PM at the hotel - and at that meeting we were given a briefing on the rules and regs, walkie talkies were handed out - and we were given our first scavenger booklet. Each booklet has dozens and dozens of challenges, riddles and competitions and you have a specific amount of time to complete as many of the challenges as you can. Each challenge has a different point system so there is strategy involved as to how you organize the challenges. SAN FRANSCISCO - Rainey and I took off at a run to start the challenges and quickly realized that running in San Francisco involves one hill after another - quite a feat. We finished up quite a few in Chinatown - including one that made us find this dead-end alley and "find what is cooking there and eat it". After asking like 10 people, we found the alley - but could only find an acupuncture shop, a florist - and then we found - a fortune cookie making store where they were cooking up fresh fortune cookies. We ate 2 each. That scavenger rally ended at 7 PM at a restaurant. During dinner we were told to go and get packed up ... we were leaving for China. We took a 1 AM flight to Hong Kong and from there on to Beijing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What Rainey and Zoe have been up to

the chinese government blocks blogs and Zainey have been much to busy securing their 2nd place standing to get online since leaving China but here is what they have been up to (the below are a few emails Zoe managed to get out). You can also keep up with what they have been doing, where they are and who's winning the competition at the actual Great Escape website http://globalscavengerhunt.com/blog/. They seem like they are having a great time all while supporting some great charities (i'm so jealous).
- April

From Zoe 4/12/08
We got to San Francisco yesterday from Las Vegas and were immediately put into doing a 3 hour scavenger hunt around San Franscisco. It was SOOO awesome. There were all sorts of riddles, puzzles, clues etc. that we had to figure out in order to do various challenges. It took us to all parts of the city that you would never see normally. Just one example of a challenge: "Where George and Bess met, a man walks with the grain". We figured out it was referring to George WASHINGTON and Bess ROSS - and at the corner of Washington and Ross we found a series of murals - in one of them was a man carrying a bag of rice - so we had to take our photo in front of that part of the mural. After the scavenger hunt, we all had to show up at dinner at 7 PM. Right as they served the main course, the leader of the competition stood up and said - you have 3 hours to be at the airport - we leave for China tonight. So we got to the airport - and found out that we were flying to Hong Kong. Fifteen hours later we just landed in Hong Kong and as we came off the plane, they handed us new boarding passes for Beijing - so we are going straight on to Beinjing. I will try and blog more later... lots to tell.. this is GREAT.

From Zoe 4/14/08
Still in Beijing. We cannot use our blog site here as all blogs and most of the internet is blocked or censored by the chinese government. I am SOOO tired - we have been going basically 24 hours per day doing challenges. we got up at 5:30 AM today to get started again as we end the Beijing challenges tonight at 10 PM - which is the first time that we will know what points each team has. I will try and upload photos when we leave China. We saw the Great Wall yesterday - amazing. This has been the best trip so far - so fun, SOOOOOO hard, so amazing. We leave tomorrow morning for another country but we have no idea where yet.

Monday, April 7, 2008

More news coverage...

Around the world in 25 days

Pensacola attorney Rainey C. Booth is about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. He and partner Zoe Littlepage won a spot in GreatEscape2008, a fund-raising project that pits teams against each other on a global scavenger hunt that will take them around the world in 25 days.
The Booth-Littlepage team is scheduled to depart this week for San Francisco, where the competition will begin on Friday.

Booth recently answered questions about his upcoming adventure and the fund-raising efforts undertaken to benefit such charities as Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF.

Q: How did you hear about this GreatEscape2008 fund-raising project, and when did you first become involved with it?
A: My partner Zoe Littlepage and I read about the GreatEscape2008 global adventure in USA Today in November 2007. We filled out an application and went through the interview process in late November and December. We found out that we were selected in December 2007.

Q: You won a spot to compete in the Global Scavenger Hunt. What was the competition like and what did it take on you and your partner's part to win?
A: The selection process is secret, so we have no real insight as to why we were chosen.

Q: You'll be going literally around the world during this competition — from San Francisco west and back to Toronto. It starts Friday; How many days will the competition last?
A: A total of 25 days from beginning to end.

Q: The goal of this adventure is to raise money for various charities, including Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF and other non-profit groups that aid developing countries. How will you actually raise the money and who will distribute it to these charities?
A: There are corporate sponsors such as High Sierra (a company specializing in gear for outdoor sports) who contribute money to the charity and help generally fund the competition. In addition, each team had to raise $40,000 for the charity. We reached out to friends, family and colleagues for donations. Indeed, many Pensacola law firms supported us with generous contributions, including Levin, Papantonio; Aylstock, Witkin and Sasser; and Jim Corrigan. In fact, lawyers from both sides of the Bar (plaintiffs and defense lawyers) sent us money for the charity. We have raised and submitted to GreatEscapes Foundation more than $43,000. The goal is for the charity to raise $1 million this year through this event.

Q: Is this event actually a "race," and will you be competing against other teams or just yourselves?
A: The event is not a race; it is better described as a global scavenger hunt. There are 20 teams that compete against each other for points. Each day, at a joint briefing session, the teams are provided a list of scavenges, puzzles, riddles and competitions to complete that day in a specific allotted time. Each scavenge or puzzle is assigned a number of points. Completing the scavenge gains that team the allocated amount of points.
There are more possible challenges on each day's list than could actually be completed by any team. So part of the event's strategy is deciding which challenges to undertake for that day — with the goal of achieving maximum points for the team. At the end of the entire GreatEscapes2008 event, the team with the most points will receive the "World's Greatest Travelers" award as well as some prizes.

Q: How do you pack for something like this, not knowing whether you're going to be in a hot climate or cold, in the mountains or on the seashore?
A: I am packing as little as possible since we will be on the move so much. Most of the clothes that I am taking with me can be hand-washed and will dry easily. We have been advised to pack shirts, sweatshirts and rain jackets so that we can put on extra layers for the colder places.

Q: You must love to travel. What are some of your favorite places and countries you've visited?
A: I have to travel a lot for my work so I am very used to living out of a suitcase. But business travel is not nearly as fun as travel for pleasure. My favorite places are Greece and the Caribbean. I especially love the Greek islands.
The great thing about this trip is that it will most likely take me to places in the world that I would not have chosen to visit on my own. GreatEscapes2008 promises to take the competitors to remote and rarely visited locations. We have also been told that we will likely visit some of the villages where GreatEscapes charity is doing some of its micro-financing work so that we can meet the people who will be most benefited by the money raised.


Strangers in a Strange Land

How adventurous are you? Could you find the Khan al-Kahlili in Cairo, Egypt, buy a traditional Arab headdress and then talk someone into letting you ride a camel around the Great Pyramid? How about sneaking into a private showing at the Cannes Film Festival and getting a photo with one of the celebrities? Or saying a prayer in one of the sacred Hiranya Varna Mahabihar houses in Kathmandu that is guarded by holy rodents?

Local attorney Rainey Booth and his partner Zoe Littlepage are about to find out how adventurous they are as they compete in the Great Escape 2008 Global Scavenger Hunt for the "The World's Greatest Travelers" crown.

For 23 days, Booth and Littlepage will travel to 13 countries and four continents as they complete against teams from around the world. They will not only become immersed in the cultures of all the places they visit, but also will help raise $1 million for such charities as Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF and non-profits that provide micro-financing opportunities to some of the poorest villages in the world.

"We read about this event in USA Today and were surprised that we were picked," Booth says in an interview on "IN Your Head Radio," on 1620 AM. "It's a great, great cause, and I think it will be exciting to go around the world." The Great Escape 2008 Global Scavenger Hunt starts April 11 in San Francisco, circumvents the globe and ends on May 3, nearly 40,000 miles away, in Toronto, Canada. "That's about all we know. They have told us very little, but just enough," Booth says. "We know we start in San Francisco. We know we will go to China at one point because we had to get visas to travel to China. Shy of that, we know little else. They gave us a list of 60 countries where we might travel."

This global scavenger hunt is the brainchild of world traveler and author Bill Chalmers. In April 2002, National Geographic Traveler magazine named Chalmers the "World's Greatest Traveler." He is the author the best-selling travel book "A Blind Date With The World."
"In 1989, I competed in a race around the world using only public transportation," Chalmers says in a phone interview from cold, snowy British Columbia. "I was lucky enough to win that race in 16 days. I really enjoyed it and always wanted to do something like it again. "Ten years later, I was trekking through Nepal with friends and was struck by some enlightenment. I realized that if I couldn't compete in such an event again, then the next best thing was to live vicariously through others racing around the world. We held our first global scavenger hunt that next year."

This year will be the fourth global scavenger hunt. There are 18 teams participating from Great Britain, Canada and the United States. They were chosen from hundreds of applicants.
"I do have to say, No,' to a lot of people," Chalmer says. "It hurts me to do so but, unless you've been around the block a few times, I feel I would be creating travel malpractice if I took someone on this trip who was a snowbird and only traveled to Florida every year and then dropped them off in India for three days. I may never see them again." There are more than 500 total scavenger tasks for this year's event. Contestants will be given a list at each stop and given three or four days to complete them. Points are assigned for each task. At the end of the 23-day competition, the team with the most points is declared "The World's Greatest Travelers."

"There is safety net for the teams," Chalmers says. "We do have a hotel for them. When we give them the list of scavenges, the first thing I tell them is that they can't do all the things on the list. It's up to the teams to figure out which ones they can do. We give them three or four days to work on the list."

The scavenger hunts are varied and require the teams to become immersed in the cultures of the communities that they are in. "I don't ask them to do bungee jumping, stunts or things like that," Chalmers says. "Instead, we ask them to taste unique foods, find unique cultures and get involved in local festivals."

When asked about what are some of the possible scavenges, Chalmers is evasive, not wanting to give away his secrets. He does offer a few hypothetical tasks. "If we were in Japan, I might ask the men to dress like one of the old emperors and have the girls made up as geisha girls," he says. "We might have them find a specific item. There are several temples that have a tooth of Buddha hanging in them. We could have them find one in a specific temple in Sri Lanka. The trick would be that they have to ride a four-legged beast to find it. The tasks are really unique because we want people to participant in the local cultures and really trust strangers in strange lands."

It is that element of the event that attracts Booth the most. "Their concept is that you will go to places you wouldn't have chosen to go on your own," Booth says. "You learn by having to do it, so you're forced to interact with the world, which is something I haven't always done when I've traveled."

Not every task involves fun. Chalmers shares that one of the most memorable and meaningful tasks was having all the teams donate half a day to work in a refugee center. "All the teams spent four hours working in a refugee center during our stay in that country," he recalls. "For some folks it changed their lives. It was life altering for them and was unique and heartfelt because they got to get to know the missionaries and those they help."

The Great Escape 2008 Global Scavenger Hunt is more than just an adventure. The goal for this year's event is to raise $1 million for international charities. "This event is designed to be a travel-thon, a sort of travel version of a walkathon," Chalmer explains. "Teams are asked to recruit sponsors. Some sponsors pay a set amount per country visited. One team has a pledge for $1 for every mile traveled which will raise close to $40,000 by the time we finish the event."

Several local law firms are sponsoring Booth and Littlepage. "The Pensacola legal community has an excellent record of giving back to the community," Booth says. "The Levin & Papantonio Family Foundation is one of our big supporters. We have a wonderful legal community that not only tries to give back locally, but also thinks more globally."

"The Great Escape 2008 Global Scavenger Hunt is a fun event," Chalmers promises. "Maybe in five or 10 years we will have the ultimate travel competition, sort of like the Paris to Dakar race. But this event is really about helping people."

"The concept of micro-financing really excited me," Booth admits. "One example we were given was $1,000 was used to buy a poor village a jeep and its fuel. That doesn't seem like much, but it let the village sell its products to towns 50 miles away. "It's those types of contributions that can have a tremendous impact on people's lives and truly make this event worthwhile."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Commenting on a blog

We want to encourage people to leave us messages and comments on the blog site. We will also be checking our regular emails, so you can always send us mail there. To add a comment to a blog,
1) Click “comment” which is at the end of whichever blog you want to comment on;
2) If you don’t already have a google account, you will need to register for one. It’s easy and just requires you to fill in your name and email (you can use any email address) and create your own password.
3) Then just log into to your new google account. The email address you gave for the google account will become your user name
4) You fill out the comment box provided and your comments are uploaded onto the blog site.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Post Oak School

Thanks to all of the Post Oak Montessori students who will be following us around the world. It was great to meet you all today. Rainey and I really appreciate your support.

And yes, I agree.... all of the challenges that involve eating yucky food...are really better suited for Rainey. I will keep you posted.

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