Day 1: Vancouver’s Bon Voyage Party

Day 1: Friday, 12 April 2018 – Vancouver, Canada (49.2827° N, 123.1207° W)

Hello all and welcome to the greatest travel adventure on earth. It is time to start the 15th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt™ and world travel championship. It will entail a quick 23-day lap around our planet visiting 10 still secret countries with hundreds of highly participatory, authentic and challenging scavenges to tackle along the route. We know first-hand, as the hundreds of savvy travelers that have participated  in past events know, that this can be a transformative travel experience…if you let it…if you embrace it and have fun.

And that is why we chose as our 2019 event theme: Chasing Life…go and get it. Or as Nike ad said: Just Do It!

We can’t take everyone who applies to compete/participate, but we think we have selected a great group for our 2019 event. So, without further ado, let us introduce all of you to you…the 10 teams competing in the 15th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt

First the newbies, rookies & greenhorns:

1) Since we are starting here in Vancouver, Canada…their home turf, here are Team NEXUS (aka Ali & Michael) from Ontario, Canada.

We think they’re ready!?

2) Next up, we have two California-based doctors that make up Team Order & Chaos (aka Sal & Vivian)…

I think we’re all in good hands…

3) Also new this year we have Team Lazy Monday (aka Kathryn & Eric) also from California…

Our most experienced travelers CV-wise

4) Next up, we have two adventure-seeking ladies, who are actually on a blind date on our Blind Date with the World, paired up by Pamela…Team Transformed Goddesses (aka Tamara & Amy). Tamara hails from the DC-area and Amy is from Alabama.

The event has been won on three occasions by such a pair of matched travelers!

Now for the the returnees…the old salts,  seasoned veterans of previous events:

5) First off, we have half of a returning father/daughter team, Team Ying 2.0 (aka Alan & Emory), from Texas. Emory will be our youngest participant…but don’t let that fool you as Team Ying 2.0 has set their sights high.

Father/daughter teams warm our hearts

6) Also for her second time with a new partner in tow are Team MargoPolos (aka Margo & Karen), both from the New York area. Karen is the traveling writer/columnist/journalist covering the event from the inside out…BTW, Team MargoPolos have also never traveled together like Team Transformed Goddesses. It should be interesting…

Margo & Karen

7) Traveling with us for her third time (with her third different partner) are Team The Fillies (aka Barbara & Sally). Barbara is from Rhode Island and her life-long friend Sally is from Philadelphia. BTW: Barbara finished 3rd in the 2010 event!

Their first adventure together—Roma, circa a long time ago!

8) And we are pleased to have another returning team…also for their 3rd  time…the infamous Retired Traveling Chicks (aka Kim & Maria) who call the Pacific Northwest their home…they have never won the event, but tied for 2nd place in the 2014 event. Is the third time a charm?

Our Friends Kim & Maria...

9) Finally, here with us today at the Vancouver starting line…based on seniority…of events, not age…is the legendary Team Lawyers without Borders (aka Zoe & Rainey) from Texas who are participating for the 12th time! They are 5-time event champs (2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 & 2016).

Burners & Global Hunters...

10) Lastly, better late than never…we have one additional team who are not with us here today, but will be with us soon enough…Another returning team…for the 4th time in fact…and they are also the 2018 defending champs and reigning holders of The World’s Greatest Travelers™ crown…They are a couple from Central California who call themselves Team SLO Folks (aka Paula & Tom).

And they are anything but SLO!

So, good luck all…the 10 teams embarking on a quick lap around our crazy planet…this is our 2019 tribe of travelers competing for The World’s Greatest Travelers™ crown!

Happily, we know that, yes they may be strangers today, but by tomorrow they will be fast friends. Comrades who share more than just wanting to win our annual world championship event; but share a passion for travel, a desire to explore, a deep curiosity about people and places, and enjoy actively doing things (site-doing) than just passively sight-seeing. They all know that memories and experiences are more important than just acquiring more stuff; that trusting strangers in strange lands and being open to the serendipity of the moment are the key to immersive travel experiences. Indeed, they are a special breed  of people who are willing to take a giant leap of faith on an adventure of a lifetime not knowing where that adventure will take them; they are allowing themselves to be taken by a trip, instead of just taking a trip.

And we look forward to showing them all the world as we see it over the next 23-days, in full technicolor.

Thanks for spending a few minutes with us here on this annual blog, we will be reporting at least daily, occasionally more often with words, pictures, videos and sounds…the Who, What, Where, How, When & Why of the competition as it unfolds. So, buckle up, stay tuned, and enjoy the ride…we are all in for an exhilarating three-week adventure around the world. Truly A Blind Date with the World!

Finally…but maybe most importantly:

We try not to hit our readers/followers over the head about The Global Scavenger Hunt’s cause-related, charitable purposes, but this annual event raises funds for GreatEscape Foundation’s twin goals: building co-ed elementary schools in low & middle income nations, and distributing interest-free no-fee micro-loans to budding global entrepreneurs (mostly mothers). Both our methods of helping others help themselves are designed to facilitate their great escape from the cycle of poverty—one person at a time! Happily, we have improved the lives of thousands: building a dozen schools, a mid-wife training facility, and funding thousands of mothers wanting to make a better life for their families.

So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week in order to make a small secure PayPal GreatEscape Foundation donation during the course of the 2019 event, we know a lot of kids needing a basic education that would thank you. And we’ll thank you too…with a tax receipt. Thank you!

More tomorrow…we’re off to our Bon Voyage Dinner!

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How Do You See the World?

Hello All –

In two short weeks, the 2019 edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt will have begun its 23-day around the world travel adventure. Leaving your expectations at home unpacked hidden in the closet, the question is asked: How will you see the world? There are many ways…

Will your eyes be wide-open…our will you need Braille to assist you?


Will you be ready to eat anything, anywhere?

Will you have preconceived ideas?


Will you embrace our planet’s connectivity?

Do you see the world in the abstract?

Will you see the forest for the trees and see the bigger picture?

Will you bear witness to the beauty everywhere we go?

Will you see it in a different way?

…Or the same old, same old?

Will you get past the labels?

Where will the winds of serendipity take you?

Are you a water person, a land person or a green person?

…and escape the tribalism of the old world point of view?


Will jet lag and time overwhelm you?

Will it be cleansing or clogging experience?

Will you get turned upside down?

Will you let go and embracing the unknown?

…No matter where you go on your Blind Date with the World.


Will you be ready for le grande voyage awaiting you?


This is how we see the world…all the places left for the event to go?

How will you get your head around it?

So…start asking yourself: How do I want to see the world?

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Home at last, home at last…

Tuesday, 7 May 2018 – USA, California, Home, Office…

Heading back from Miami to SFO, where the whole 2018 event started weeks ago on April 13–23-days, 11-countries and over 43,000 kilometers (27,000 miles) ago–I was struck with awe while flying over the country peering out the window like a little kid. The Florida everglades, storm clouds brewing on the horizon, the bayous of Louisiana, the plains of Texas, glorious Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, the snow-capped Sierras and the multi-colored salt pans of the San Francisco Bay…then the drive home across the Golden Gate bridge into the still green valley’s of wine country.

And for those that know me, I am not a little kid; but, some might wrongly suggest, a jaded veteran traveler of the world for decades now. I have done a lot and probably seen even more. But I am not jaded, and that awe-factor hit me; I am still enthralled with travel–the destinations, the people, the colors, the food, the cultures, the conversations, the sights and smells; and yes, even the getting there still impresses me. I still love to look out the window of a 747 slipping the surely bounds of earth. And I say this because before the adventure started, I was quietly questioning myself, wondering to myself, if I had maybe hit the travel wall? Was I maybe done with it all? Well, I am not…

And so our 14th event comes to a close and I must sum it all up in short pithy prose…and those that know me, know that is not easy.

Hmmm…bullet trains and dumplings in Taiwan; smiles and the Taj in India; ceremonial dancing and Lucy visits in Ethiopia; the roar of lions on African safari; zip-trekking across Victoria Falls; steaks, Malbec and tango in Buenos Aires; dawn beach walks and the wineries of Uruguay; playing with seals and exploring ruins in Peru; the everglades and South Beach glamour of Miami. Three weeks around the world; nine new event countries (the 14-year old event is now sitting pretty at 85 countries visited thank you very much); and hundreds of new global acquaintances made along the way. Our cups runneth over, again.

It was an ambitious trip…9,000 more kilometers flown than ever before. We had to go east to go west, south to go north. Visiting Southern Africa like we did in Zimbabwe and Zambia put us in a deep hole…but we maneuvered west to South America. Not as easy as it looked. For me, these events are always a combination of herding cats and taming lions, putting out fires and orchestrating the band. (Maybe that’s why my nickname has become the Ringmaster?) But this was a good year–they all aren’t.

There were no: cheaters, drama queens, inflated egos, bouts of malaria, acts of terrorism, liars, overly competitive teams, infectious diseases, May Day riots to circumnavigate, drunkards to contend with, cliques to infiltrate, hotel potatoes to mollify, intolerable heat waves, lost phones, wayward luggage, blowhards or Debbie-downers to counteract. The right team won. No one got too sick. Everyone genuinely liked each other–and traveled with each other from time to time. We had a good time; each of us did, I know it! We only heard grumblings about a few early flights and plastic water bottles soon overwhelming our world. That was it… All our destinations were fun. Our travel was seamless, our hotels grand, our adventures too numerous to mention. (At least right now!) Our collective memory banks full once more. We did it, again.

So, thank you all for traveling with us; both Pamela and I appreciate you taking such an amazing leap of faith with us and allowing us to show you our version of the world–that very few ever get to experience. We think it is special. And thank everyone else who followed our 2018 adventure online and via social media, we appreciate you too. But honestly, instead of sitting on the sidelines watching and pressing the like button, wouldn’t you really rather join the fun? Come…choose adventure, get out of your comfort zones and experience our world.

Life is all too short my fellow friends, enjoy it while you can.

And this point was brought home all too real for me on Sunday when I hit the tarmac in SFO. I received a sad e-mail informing me that one of our own, two-time participant (2013 & 2014) Gerry Obrecht of BC, Canada (The Ogopogos) had died after a short bout from cancer the night before. He died on the same day, five years after he and his son Phil were crowned the 2013 winners of the event and The World’s Greatest Travelers. Gerry was a kind, funny and gentle man, who lived life to the fullest and it showed: when competing; when traveling; when making practical jokes; when grinning and bearing the trials and tribulations of traveling as we do; when tying the shoelaces together of a sleeping hungover fool on our bus; when beating us, continually, at cribbage; and when generously retelling travel war stories over a cocktail in some exotic bar in an equally far-flung destination. Gerry was a gentleman and a champion. Gerry was a member of our tribe…and we will miss him. Till we meet again my friend, when the round is on you.
   
To that, all I can do is repeat myself: life is short–spend your time and money while you can…eat the cake, kiss the girl, and travel more!

Our dates are already set for 2019: April 12 – May 4, 2019! Let’s do it again

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Day 13: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Wednesday, 25 April 2018 – Day 13: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (17.9318° S, 25.8256° E)

That feature photo is what Victoria Falls looked like in November when I was last here during the dry season…that’s the before photo.

Victoria Falls after photo…during wet season.

The problem with the after photo is there is too much of a good thing. It is like a white out (wet out) with so much water crashing down creating micro-climates…squalls really, that prevent you from really seeing the majesty of the falls. You get absolutely soaked…saturated even. But alas, we are here, enjoying ourselves tremendously. Heard a team was going bungee jumping and maybe zip lining too? Hopefully, video later…


Leo & the Crab tanned & rested enjoying breakfast at Batonka.

……
Something lurking between me and my pub! Yield the right-of-way…


Baobab Tree sunset

Tiger Fish (aka African piranha)…something to think about white water rafting!


What inflation looks like…a real note. Bitcoin anyone?

All the teams returned on time at our 9:00PM check-in with stories to tell. Drinks kept them flowing until the wee hours of the balmy night…

So conflicted? Which way to go to begin the last 10-days? Thoughts?

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Where are we going in 2019?

Better yet, where are you going in 2019?

We are at the fun stage of planning our 2019 event, the 15th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt–the travel world championship.

To date, The Global Scavenger Hunt has visited 85 countries, from tiny Andorra to gigantic Russia, and from the island of Fiji to the islands of Colombia. As it looks right now, we may be visiting several new ones in 2019–and new destinations in places we have previously visited (Some countries beg for more than one visit!).

Now I’m not telling and I would never tip my hand, but look at the map and marvel at the opportunities before us. Blue been there/Gray what’s next.

The mind reels…happily! Excited? So are we.

 



Red been there/Gray what’s next.

 

So…what do you say?

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Reasons to take the leap and participate in The Global Scavenger Hunt

Forget Letterman’s old Top 10 lists…too short.
Forget Jay Z’s 99 Problems…way too long–and no problems here.
Here’s our Goldilocks-inspired just right list as collated by our crack staff and fellow and former participants:

60 of the BEST reasons to say YES! to participating in The Global Scavenger Hunt:
Because it is like playing spin-the-globe.
Because reality can exceed expectations.
Because magic still exists.
Because adventure still exists.
Because when was the last time you did something for the first time?
Because you deserve some me time.
Because it will shake up your world.
Because there is joy in sharing an adventure.
Because it will challenge you like nothing before.
Because deep down you want to take a blind date with the world.
Because you will realize you had skills you didn’t know you had.
Because you will break bread with strangers.
Because it will make you feel small.
Because there is nothing grander than feeling small.
Because you will give back and make the world a better place.
Because it will make you feel big.
Because it will make laugh, and cry.
Because it will bring you closer to beauty.
Because there is always something new to taste.
Because regular travel is not as adventurous as it once was.
Because trusting strangers in strange lands is absolutely exhilarating.
Because it will increase your connectivity with the world…and everything in it.
Because you will realize that there are no real boundaries between we the people.
Because you will exit your comfort zone.
Because it makes you happy to be alive.
Because ogling natural wonders feels really good.
Because several appetizers are sometimes better than one main course.
Because seeing it for yourself is like being in a postcard—only better.
Because you will be introduced to pre-industrial modes of transport.
Because it is not about sightseeing—but site-doing.
Because you will need to pack your daring, creativity, resourcefulness and spontaneity.
Because you will know the color Aegean blue does exist.
Because sometimes the destination is not the ends—only the means of greater discovery.
Because in our view people don’t take trips…trips take people.
Because it is the ultimate piece of performance art filled with exotic backdrops, action and drama.
Because it ends up being a transformative journey.
Because the awe factor is high and the wows many.
Because this is the adventure you find out who you are.
Because it will benefit your travel self-confidence.
Because bliss is awaiting you on the other side of your fears.
Because it will make your relationship with your partner stronger.
Because there can be authentic travel in the age of reality TV.
Because you shouldn’t wait till next year for life to happen.
Because circling the globe has always been your dream.
Because you will be tested.
Because you will pass the test.
Because it is an authentic 21st century adventure.
Because you will become a Thrillionaire.
Because it will make you a more interesting person.
Because it is the world travel championship.
Because it cures the seen-it-all blues.
Because you will make new friends.
Because it will have something amazing to look forward to in 2018.
Because you will achieve travel rapture.
Because it is indeed life-changing.
Because you will never feel so alive for 23 days straight.
Because dreams do come true.
Because when was the last time you surprised yourself?
…And because it is just plain fun!

What are your reasons for taking the leap? We want to know…

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