Two local residents, Ray and Emily, are planning a 12,000 mile journey for their honeymoon.
From 29th December 2005 along with 199 other vehicles, they will take part in the fifth Plymouth–Banjul Challenge. On arrival in Banjul, capital of Gambia, in north-west Africa, they will auction their car. This will be a welcome gesture in a country where cars cost too much for many local residents. In addition to this they will also donate boxes of school equipment to the area.
I went to visit the couple on Pitsmoor Road to find out more about their intriguing trip. They found out about the challenge on the internet and decided it was a good way of killing two birds with one stone – a charity challenge and a desire to honeymoon in North Africa.
Although the route is already 5,000 miles, Ray and Emily will return home via a detour through Algeria and part of the Sahara Desert on motorbikes that they will tow to Banjul.
There are potential dangers as they told me in detail: “Where we are not able to travel on roads, we will have to use dirt tracks marked out only by sparsely-positioned metal cans. These roads are prone to attacks by local bandits and you can be threatened at gunpoint for all your belongings.”
Ray told me they must also be wary at border crossings: “Sometimes we will have to bribe the army to let us past. To enter Algeria, we will have to produce a visa; also my boss will have to write a letter to show them that I have a job to return to in order to prove we won’t be there to stay!”
Emily was also aware of local traditions: “In some areas we will travel through, it is disrespectful to show off too much of your flesh. They have many different traditions that it would be foolish of us to ignore.”
Despite all these dangers as Ray and Emily say: “It will be the ultimate test for us and we will thoroughly enjoy it.”
However, they need help. They are still renovating their donated Landrover in readiness for the 5,000 mile trek. “We have had to convert the vehicle from right- to left-hand drive, in line with the legal requirements in Gambia.”
They are still missing some parts for the Landrover and they will need some spare motorbike parts for the return leg of their journey.
Emily and Ray have chosen to support the Weston Park Cancer Appeal and all sponsorships received for their trip will be donated to this cause. You can sponsor them for fuel and such like for the return trip as well. Your help in any way will be much appreciated.
In the meantime I am sure you will join me in wishing them the best of luck on their fascinating journey and all the best for their big day.
by Reuben Vincent