Meet the 2012 Mongol Rally’s Only All-Female Team
I am often introduced to people doing incredible things through travel. Charlie Grosso is just that. She is an art gallery director and photographer turned adventure philanthropoist, and she’s one half of the only all-female team to be attempting the 2012 Mongol Rally — a 10,000 mile unsupported car rally from London to Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia kicking off in July.
If that doesn’t sound epic enough, Charlie hasn’t even met the other half of her team, Pamela MacNaughtan. The two chatted on Twitter and decided they should take on the 80 percent male-dominated rally, riding side-by-side in a tiny car together, all to raise money for a local Mongolian charity. They are Team SM Stowaway and they’ve so kindly invited Travelocity along for the adventure!
From Charlie Grosso:
What made me say YES to this 10,000 miles of insanity?
On a not so special evening back in November of 2010, I was in Taipei visiting family, I had just finished dinner with my mom and I was attempting to fight off the onset of food coma by poking around on the Internet to see what kind of mischief all of my globe-trotting friends were getting into.
I stumbled across blogger Sherry Ott’s post about something called The Mongol Rally. I clicked over to give it a quick read and the first thing I saw was this: “10,000 miles of bad roads, no roads, bandits, deserts, mountains and other adventuresome stuff…” Ughm. Okay. Sure. It didn’t really quiet sink in.
I read a little further down and saw this: “Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of your participation are high. Individuals who have taken part in past adventures have been permanently disfigured, permanently disabled or even lost their life. These adventures are not glorified holidays. They are unsupported adventures and so by their very nature extremely risky.”
These long paragraphs describing risk, injury, mayhem and chaos sent a rush of adrenaline into my system, put a pause on the food coma and an unmitigated, unprovoked “YES” jumped out of me!
Am I insane? Maybe. Any sane person would say, “I don’t think this is a good idea.” But what we often forget is that life is a dangerous proposition. To risk pain for love, risk humiliation to sing off key in front of your friends, risk potential harm to ascend the highest peak, risk rejection and publish a travel book…being ALIVE involves risk. Life dares you at every turn to see if you will take the bait. I took the bait and I haven’t looked back.
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My most beloved place in the whole world is: The Motherland, Italy. I never could have predicted how intense my love for Italy would become or how much I would revel in speaking the language. I've probably visited close to 100 Italian cities by now and I never tire of it. Need Italy tips? I'm your gal. Greatest travel lesson learned: You are your best company. I wish more people realized that. Traveling with large groups is fun, but the thrill of landing in a foreign city alone with no rules or schedules to abide by is pure adrenaline. Fondest travel memory: One of my fondest, sweetest memories was meeting my new in-laws for the first time after a 16-hour road trip from Montenegro to Belgrade. It was three in the morning and they were wide awake with anticipation, sitting at the kitchen table with traditional Serbian meats and a glass of red wine for me. A warm welcome, indeed. First thing I do in a new place: Follow the scent of a fresh-roasted bean and head to the nearest, most local-yocal coffee shop. A quick shot of caffeine, a chat with a few locals and then it's off to the races. First thing I do when I get home: Kiss my dachshund, Vucko, then pour over all the photos I've taken. Then wish I could do it all over again. Travel ambition: To inspire more people to get out of their cubicles and into the world.