"I've never slept with such a breeze,"
said Arik Baraz with a smile as we met on the second morning
of the Isuzu Challenge expedition.
Although Baraz, the man behind the complex expedition, has
slept in many places around the world, he too was surprised
at how strong the winds are at night - so strong that they
blow tents and people all over the place.
The locals and news broadcasters say the weather conditions
in Australia right now are the most extreme within the last
100 years - and we are the 'lucky ones' to experience it!
We wake up in the morning to discover that the path we were
to follow has been washed away during the night. This is
a situation where improvising at a moment's notice to direct
the drivers on how to move and where to turn is essential.
We need to quickly decide on a new route so the tiger-printed
convoy can continue on its way.
We continue toward the Chamber Canyon, leave the vehicles
and continue on foot to look at Aboriginal wall murals.
If only the painters of these magical murals on the canyon
wall knew that 15,000 years after they died people from
around the globe would come to see their drawings.
through Australia is an experience in itself. Every once
in a while another 4x4 vehicle comes into view and the occupants
always wave hello. This contact is an important and exciting
part of every meeting between the Challenge participants
and local residents.
We continue north into incomprehensible vast spaces. For
example, after driving for 200km, we see a sign that warns
us that the next gas station is 409km away.
A few kilometers back we passed a sign that said we are
entering "remote areas" - a clue of what to expect
in the upcoming hours: endless spaces continuing to the
horizon, with nothing in between. Everything is big, wide
and truly gigantic.
The long distances mean we drive into the night and so hold
a safety training session that includes warnings against
cows and kangaroos crossing the roads and jumping in front
of the vehicles.
To help keep us awake Eti, our guide, tells an exciting
story on the walkie-talkie. After 15 minutes of silence
she realizes she had been transmitting into the wrong frequency.
Next time we'll try harder.
: Gerry Avramovich