|4 May 2005
Dear (hugely generous) Sponsor,
In 3 days’ time my two companions, Ben and Rufus,
and I will be saddling up our bikes and setting out from the provincial
town of Cochabamba in an effort to raise money for the children’s charity
SOS Children’s Villages. Cochabamba is in Bolivia and to the east of the
Andes. If all goes considerably better than expected we should end up 28
days later in the town of Iquique, on the Chilean Pacific coast and very
much to the west of the Andes. As the quicker of those of you out there
may have already realised, this means that our foolhardy buccaneers intend
to try to cross the Andes by bike. In four weeks.
By our best estimate we think that this is going to
involve cycling something in the region of 1500km. Which sounds like quite
a long way now that I think about it. I had a look at the Andes in an
Atlas a couple of days ago. They make the Pyrenees look like a speed bump.
I'm also a little worried about the altitude. Up at 5,000m the air is
starting to get decidedly thin. Nausea, headaches and general exhaustion
are a given. And apparently only 3% of Bolivia’s roads are paved. The
remaining 97% is largely made up of rough corrugated dirt tracks. Dirt
tracks which are often found to be inhabited by thundering lorries which
like nothing more than to hurtle along at dangerously high speeds leaving
anyone foolhardy enough to be on a bike engulfed in a noxious cloud of
But it’s not all going to be fun, fun, fun! After
all, what feels better after a grueling day’s hard riding up the side of a
mountain than to have to pitch your tent on some rocks and cook a
delicious dinner of whatever tinned food may or may not have been
available at the last tiny roadside shack before bedding down for the
night against winds of -30°C?
Then there’s also the fact that it’s really rather
difficult to know exactly where you are up there, let alone where you’re
going. Road maps? Pah! Signs? What are they?! We are hoping that the
inevitable extra mileage due to getting completely lost does not add more
than 50% to the total distance that we need to cover in our paltry 4
Life would no doubt be made considerably easier in
this respect if one of us could speak Spanish. Life, however, as we all
know, is not easy.
Still, it's all in the name of a good cause eh?!
Established over 50 years ago to protect the rights and interests of
children who have lost their parents due to war, natural catastrophe or
disease, SOS Children’s Villages and youth facilities are now home to some
58,000 children and adolescents in 132 countries around the world. Their
guiding principle is that children who cannot remain with their biological
families nevertheless have a right to family care, safety and a fair
chance in life and should be given love, protection and respect as well as
access to education and medical care.
In countries where the available educational and
vocational facilities are inadequate SOS often run their own kindergarten,
primary and secondary schools and vocational training centres for the
children and young people in their care and for children from the
On top of this SOS Medical Centres provide basic
medical care for the local population through vaccination programmes,
childbirth facilities, guidance on nutrition, mother-and-child clinics,
hospitals and dental clinics.
You can find out more about the fantastic work that
they do at
We are aiming to raise £5,000 through the kind and
generous sponsorship of all those people that know us, and maybe even a
few big-hearted folk that don’t.
Should you wish to contribute and thereby brighten
the future of some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged children
(as well as offering us your morale-boosting psychological support) you
can do so via our donations website:
The actual costs of the expedition are coming
entirely out of our own pockets so every single penny that is given will
go directly to SOS.
I'll try to keep you updated as to our progress with
(ir)regular e-mails, although until we get up there it is impossible to
know how regularly this can be done.
In summary, we are doing something very hard to
raise money for kids that really need it so please give us some cash.
Thank you a million times in advance for your
Jay, Ben and Rufus.