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Boris' Blog

Sharing some random thoughts experienced while under pressure and working toward the peak of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

Team MDA comprises Michael & Lynne Pezzullo, Dani Villano & David S., Penny Bryer, Lincoln Kern and me

Mt Toubkal

Mt Toubkal 360 Panorama - click on image for larger version

Entry No 8 - Celebration, Stars and Sayonara...

I'm in Window Seat 76, this time not on a plane or bus but on a high-speed train heading to Fez.

What was immediately obvious with the Moroccan train network is the total lack of graffiti on the train or station and the second observation is the 180 km ph speed, whisper quite and no kthunk, kthunk every second. These are smooth continuous rails permitting these high speed trains. Bring it on in Oz.

The Celebration of Team MDA's achievements was held at the rooftop restaurant (by popular choice and demand) overlooking the main square and market.

The tucker was terrific and wholesome as was the company of all Team MDA members. It was an honour to spend the time with Michael & Lynne Pezzullo, Dani Villano & David S, Penny Bryer and Lincoln Kern. This was a tough, challenging experience which do date has raised more than $90k with at least $15k more to come in. This is a marvellous result.

Following our dinner, we wandered, for the last time through the market square to a gellati place Lincoln had found. A palate cleansing Pistachio and Orange "double header" capped off the night. We then walked slowly back to our riad along a well beaten and familiar path for the penultimate time. I was somewhat sad that this exciting and fulfilling journey and challenge was coming to an end.

This time the riad had its wifi turned on and the password was not to difficult to crack - would you believe "12345678". According to web security research experts, this password combination ranks second to "password" as a password...

So I sat in the beautiful, internal courtyard with last minute writing and email catch up. This was the go until midnight when I finally succumbed to sleep only to be rudely awakened by the enthusiastic chants of the local Imam. I'm sure the 4am call to prayer is much longer than what we experience during the day. Is that to really drive the message home and keep people from sleeping. Who knows? But just as the Imam completed his pre-dawn ritual, the swallows surrounding and in our riad courtyard burst into the most beautiful (but annoying) song. 45 minutes they sang their little lungs out and just when that cacophony stopped, the sound I hate the most emanated from my iPone - the morning alarm! Up and at 'em for a 530 shower, brekky and then thank you and goodbyes outside our riad.

We had "passed the hat around " to tip our wonderful guide - Rasheed. He was a delightful young and enthusiastic individual, with a love of "his mountain" and country.

Thank you Rasheed for being there for all of us, even at the most difficult period of time when trekking became more than a challenge.

Hugs, handshakes and kisses were the order of the morning in the market square as our luggage was being loaded onto two 4WD vehicles for destinations of airport and train station.

So that's the "Celebration" and "Sayonara" - where to the "Stars" fit in?

Our final challenge was enduring hours and many hundred of kilometres of travel through Morocco to the edge of The Sahara.

Waiting for us at the oasis were seven camels (hmmm is that one hump or two?) - one hump, so that made these dromedaries. We also had a Berber Camel Train Driver. A quick mount onto the backs of these kneeling animals and a sharp rise on command to full stature was more than dramatic!!

Camels

Team MDA Camel Train

Camels

Team MDA casting its shadow

Camel Driver

Our Camel Train Driver

We trekked many kilometres into The Sahara, within sight of the Algerian border. While it was somewhat comfortable to start off with, the discomfort level rose to significant pain with every step that was taken.

We finally arrived at our desert dwelling, several Berber tents joined in a large semi-circle with 4 beds in each. It was a "no brainer" to move the beds out of the tents onto the desert sand...

A very late Moroccan dinner was prepared and enjoyed culminating in the freshest and most refreshing watermelon to cleans the palate and round off a marvellous meal. We were entertained by several of the Berber camel drivers with song and traditional drumming before we headed to our desert bed for the night.

What an amazing experience laying there on my back, exhausted but fully awake until some time past 2am. The night sky was midnight black and the most beautiful jewels were scattered throughout, twinkling at will and interrupted more than half a dozen times with the falling to earth of celestial objects - meteorites. While these trails while short-lived, they left an indelible impression in my mind of the beauty of nature.

Dressed in my sleeping attire - a T-shirt and trekking pants, I thought it would be cold during the night, but arms were out from under the blanket and the desert air whispered across me at first, then increased to small stronger bursts of desert air which were so pleasant. I did not want the night to end but after all the hard trekking, succumbed to a short sleep before waking before sunrise.

We watched the desert sands bathe in the ever changing colour of the sunrise. Pinks, purples and every colour and shade in between. Magical!

Mounting our trusty steeds, we rode off to our oasis and not into the poetic sunset. Our backs warming rapidly with the morning sun warming more as it rose above the horizon. We turned several times to see the sun rise higher above the horizon and at this point it was starting to sear the back of our heads.

This was a unique and not-to-be-forgotten experience. So that was the "Stars"

A final request is repeated seeking your support. I thank those people who responded so positively with the last Blog entry and sponsored our efforts with generous donations.

It's NOT too late to make your contribution, it's NOT too late to sponsor our efforts after all we've done the hard yards!

Perhaps you have contributed already? If so "thank you", but I unashamedly ask that you do help us with your further support.

If you have enjoyed reading "Boris' Blog" and sharing in our journey, please share in the vision of Fighting Muscular Dystrophy!

Just visit the MDA website www.ChallengeMD.org and click on the latest Challenge and Sponsor a Trekker. We would really appreciate the support and recognition for our achievements.

Thank you to Team MDA, donors, sponsors and families of respective Team MDA Members who supported our efforts and held the fort at home while we went of to Fight Muscular Dystrophy!

Over and Out!

 

Entry No 7 - "Journey's end...?"

Before hitting the cot, two important tasks to be performed; one to ring home and advise the status of the trek and my part in it, the second was to test the phone connection to radio 3AW for a live cross to Ross & John - top rating breakfast program.

A preliminary phone call to the Producer of the radio show established the contact and line quality was more than suitable for the radio interview. Picture this though, I'm standing in the mule enclosure some 50 meters from the refuge were we are staying for a second night "Not happy Jan!!" The mules are doing what mules do - huffing, puffing, belching and f... I had my fingers crossed that they would at least behave during the interview. It was pretty cold and the minutes ticked by while waiting for the appointed time for me to ring back.

I was introduced by John and he provided a great backgrounder on MD and the ChallengeMD event. The usual questions were fielded and answers were provided in the context of the location and the event. It was great to receive an congratulatory SMS from Anne Rogers within minutes of the interview conclusion.

The beds in the dorm were waiting for us after queuing for the toilet / shower"facilities" and no sooner that we hit bed, a bunch of Frenchies and Poles invade the dorm. Torches worn as headbands, sprayed the room with indiscriminate light and their whisper quite voices Im sure would have been heard half-way up Mt Toubkal. I can assure you, I was in no physical state to test that theory by trekking anywhere near that mountain, again!

A few hours sleep, was followed by our usual breakfast of porridge (getting thinner by the day) OJ, bread and Berber Tea.

Bags packed and ready fro loading onto our mules, we then proceeded the long trek down the valley parallel to the river. This trek was without end went on and on, crossing the river several times and giving way to ascending mules. I never realised that trekkers had a big appetite for Coke. Each mule carried at least 300 bottles and the number of mules we gave way to during the descent was considerable.

Walking along and seeing the path was becoming more difficult as the sun was directly above and behind and the colours of the scree, dirt, rock and other debris were all shades of grey. Bloody hard to know where to place ones feet.

Scree & Boulders

Our path of scree and boulders dwarfs Penny in the foreground

We reached the river bed which was hundreds of meters wide and a few kilometres wide and comprising rock, yes scree, boulders and every shape and size in between. You can see that the ice age worked like a huge bulldozer pushing all of this before its melting. And we had to walk through this!

River of scree

Our river of scree

We finally made it to Mohammed's guest house were a late lunch was waiting for us as was a magnificent hot or cold (take your pick) shower was waiting as as well.

We said our goodbyes to three of our support crew who cooked for us and loaded our mules and followed Rasheed out of town (yes trekking again after the shower) to our waiting van to take us on the next part of ChallengeMD 2013 Morocco.

Goodbys

The final lunch with Team MDA and Support Crew

Mt Toubkal was tough, it brought out the best in all of us and showed what can be achieved if you put your mind to it.

The ChallengeMD! series of events have raised in excess of $2.2 million for MD. On behalf od the MDA, Team MDA and the MD Community I convey deep appreciation for the financial support provided.

It's NOT too late to make your contribution, it's NOT too late to sponsor our efforts after all we've done the hard yards!

Just visit the MDA website www.ChallengeMD.org and click on the latest Challenge and Sponsor a Trekker. We would really appreciate the support and recognition for our achievements.

Over and out for now...

 

Entry No 6 "The journey begins..."

 

Team MDA

Lincoln, Dani, Penny, Boris, David, Lynne & Michael, minutes before taking the first steps in ChallengeMD 2013 Morocco

Excitement and anticipation was running high and this was our first look at the Moroccan country-side. Not dissimilar to parts of Oz . Twenty kilometres out from Marrakech the Atlas Mountains broke through the clouds and haze. Intimidating to say the least. 

The lack of traffic on the road was noticeable in fact during the course of our 60 km journey to our start point Imioglad we so less than 10 cars!

Our support crew was waiting for us guide, three support staff and three mules. Our gear was paced onto their backs, the mules and not the crew. and after a briefing over the map, we headed off with the first steps toward our ultimate target.

Mule

One of our trusty mules with some of our luggage & tucker on the precarious scree path

The first half of the day was tough going as we headed to the 1,900 meter point of the pass. Most of the time my lungs were screaming out for air.  Not because of the altitude, but perhaps my level of fitness. Legs were fine and pushed along and up, but feeding them the required air was painful. So screaming lungs, gallons of sweat and nearly 3 litres of water and electrolyte emptied from my back-pack bladder by the time we reached the pass.

But as we approach the pass a most beautiful surprise was waiting for us. A traditional Moroccan picnic. Padded pillows, blanket and enough food prepared to feed a small army. This was all prepared by our crew and the mules not only carried our gear but also the tucker we will be experiencing during the next days.

Moroccan picnic

The meal and setting was spectacular and it then became evident why there was so much food prepared: to feed the crew and the small group of young kids who followed us part of the way. It was a nice gesture on the part of our crew.

We then began the slow descent through a rough scree. We are yet to find a "nice" surface to walk upon. The scree is dangerous as it keeps constantly shifting underfoot. After several hours descending, our destination for the night became visible. Tizane is nestled at 1600 meters. So we maxed out at 2,400 only to lose the altitude by descending  to our refuge for the night.

We walked a river bed for several kilometres and the before fading light we passed a small mosque (this significance of this will become evident) and our refuge was next door.  A large concrete box constituted the refuge. It had several rooms, no hot water, in fact no water was available as the town had run dry. And for some trekkers this was their first experience in using a "squatter". 

My room had six beds - ok no excitement here. The beds were a 75mm slab of foam approx 600mm wide. As I had this room to myself, I soon stacked several of the on top of each other to provide at least some modest degree of comfort during the night. An early night was essential as we would be hitting the trek at 7:00. Sleep came swiftly but was interrupted frequently. Our mules were tethered  below my window and most of the night they were belching and making other noises. Of course the smell was enough to singe the nose hairs!

Mule

The biggest scare came approx 4am when I thought the local Imam was in my room chanting the "call to prayer" at ear-shattering full volume. I then realised that the mosque next door had its speakers pointing directly at our refuge. Sunrise came and so did the Imam again! 

Rasheed, our local leader, has bestowed names upon us: since arriving in Morocco, I've had many - read that as MANY salutations of Bon Moustache!! including same from our crew. Rasheed however has called me Ali Baba so the balance of Team MDA must be the forty thieves.

I'm now writing this in retrospect, as each night following the most arduous trekking, quite frankly I'm just too tired to write. We have completed the trek but more on that shortly...

The two days leading up to the summit trek were more than daunting for me. One afternoon we had to ascend to 3,650 and that included 96 switch-backs (or zig-zags) to reduce the steepness of the trek. This I found almost too hard to handle. When I comment about lungs screaming fro air, that is no exaggeration. While externally I may have looked somewhat beaten, internally I fought with every ounce of strength and determination to get to the top.

Collectively we've had some injuries; Michael dislocated his finger, Dani sprained her ankle, my knee started to inflict pain and the padded posterior saw me making contact with the trekking  path. To call this a "path" is plain wrong! More than 95% of our total trek was on loose scree, rock, gravel and house brick size impediments to safe and comfortable trekking.

One very long descent was picturesque, unlike the majority of the trek which has offered us a bland grey melding almost every element into one. This part of the trek went past several waterfalls and we had to cross them several times. The remnants of volcanic activity eons ago, left some amazing rocks and colours, The ones that fascinated me the most  were purple on the outside and wheat grain size white particles on the inside. Absolutely beautiful and unique.

Waterfall

 

The trek up to our refuge which would be our 5:30am start point for Mt Toubkal was unrelenting. Upon arrival we were escorted to our room... a dormitory accommodating 26 other bodies. No need for a description of the sights and sounds that intruded upon our much needed sleep.

Our days have been long, so much longer than ChallengeMD  Mt Blanc.  Ten hour trekking days is the norm - way too long!

We were up very early, competing for a "squatter" and shower.  Time will tell if my toes will drop off!

We commenced our assault on Mt Toubkal minutes after sunrise with the fore-knowledge that the average team makes the summit and back to the refuge in 4.5 hours!

Mt Toubkal assaulted me! Evert step was painful, through rock and scree - two steps forwards and half a step back. Did I feel like giving up - quitting? Absolutely!!!!!!
 
Less than one third of the way up, I was almost ready to throw in the towel. The lungs could not keep up in feeding the legs. The legs were aching and screaming, nay, howling for a massive ingestion of air. I was stopping more frequently just to recharge my body.

I thought about Ryan, being on a ventilator and how difficult, if not impossible breathing is for him. I also thought about his total lack of strength which prevents him from walking. So, was I going to give up? Certainly not then. Up to the half-way point and going nearly three hours, this was not going to be a record setting trek, unless the longest was in contention!

The pass hovered tantalisingly close at 4,040 meters with each step I shuffled it seemed to recede further away - not fair! I hit my lowest ebb and if it were not fro Lynne's encouraging words I would have stopped then and made my way back down.

It was obvious to me as we neared the pass that the extra 165 meters was unattainable for me. I could have pushed myself to expiration but  in still a somewhat coherent thought I realised that it can take more guts and courage to know when to stop, than to pursue with folly.

So briefly disappointed, I sat at the pass and waited for Lynne, Lincoln, Dani and Dave accompanied by Rasheed to conquer Mt Toubkal. So exhausted, I feel asleep at the 4,040 meter pass for best part of an hour recharging my internal batteries while waiting for what was left of Team MDA's successful ascent and safe return.

Knowing what I achieved under these conditions was the hardest and most demanding thing i have ever done. Physically I know my limits and they're not to shabby. Mentally, I know I am stronger today in the knowledge that I made the right call under the most adverse (for me) conditions.

The celebration on the pass was brief but enjoyable and the descent back to the refuge was occupying prime focus - still a dangerous journey back down! As it proved to be!

Mt Toubkal Saddle

Lynne, Dani, David, Lincoln & Boris at the 4,040 Mt Toubkal Saddle.

Slips, falls were on the agenda and the highlight was trekking through thigh-deep snow. Slipping and sliding and sinking down as far as the leg could go. At one point my leg was stuck and it took my and Rasheed's combined strength to get me unstuck.

This was hard yakka! At one point I just gave up with the strength-sapping snow crossing, sat down and will all my might punched forward. Now those of you who know me, could say I'm a few kgs on the heavier side and cut a shapely figure, so butt cheeks firmly positioned on the snow in very thin trekking pants (yeah it was freezing my butt off!!) I took off to mine and other's delight and screamed sliding down the mountain some 50 meters.  Much quicker than walking!

We made it back not in record time, either way, but we did so safely, in one piece and satisfied with our collective and individual achievements .

There's more to come, but an exhausted body is now seeking the comfort of a pillow and some sleep.

More to come...

 

Entry No 5 "Roof top dinner and early night"

A leisurely walk to the main square and the up to the third floor rooftop restaurant saw us seated by the balconies edge overlooking the square and the throng of people within.

Roof Top

Overlooking the bustling Marrakech Market from our dining and vantage point.

Lynne Pezzullo

Lynne watching the sunset and contemplating what's in store (?), while Dani and Penny study the menu

Traditional Moroccan cuisine was the Team's choice and one drink that had me curious was almond milk. This was kilos of crushed almonds turned into a very tasty drink.

Moroccan Tajine Tucker

My traditional Moroccan Tajine Tucker

As we were heading off early in the morning to commence our ChallengeMD of the Atlas Mountains and Mt Toubkal, we decided that this was not going to be a late night. We headed back to our riad and were in bed by 22:00 and up at 7:00 for our rooftop breakfast of mint tea, fruit and an assortment of nibbles. Bags packed and our final walk through the square to our waiting minibus for the next part of our adventure.

 

Boris' Blog Entry No 4 - "The Marrakech Express - NOT"

Sitting on the rooftop of our 500 year old riad after the first night's peaceful and welcome sleep and waiting on breakfast to arrive. It's  7:30 and the cacophony of swallows singing is almost deafening. But let's wind the clock back to the approach to Casablanca.

Riad Courtyard

From the roof of our riad's internal courtyard

That 8 hour leg from Dubai felt like 20 - painfully long. Landing was uneventful however interesting with a nose camera displaying a thin strip which surely was not the runway. But as we moved closer the full width was revealed with a slight sigh of relief from me.  

A five hour layover in Casablanca was endured while we sat there killing time. The only respite being the first "non-airline" caffeine in more than 30 hours. The prop plane was only half full and noisy. However 55 minutes was short enough to endure the decibels. Minutes from landing our ultimate target became visible on the horizon - The Atlas Mountains.

Clearing immigration was swift and Customs were not interested in us. Once outside we were met by our transport and driven to the perimeter of the central square behind the Gates of Medina. Walking to our riad through the square was more than interesting. A kaleidoscope of colour, with the market air filled with smoke from the many BBQs, and the aural senses were bombarded by drums, horns, snake charmers and every other conceivable assault on ones senses. 

We had to memorise the rout to our riad through narrow cobble-stones lane-way, a right, two lefts and other right and the final two lefts saw us outside a non-descript two story wall with an imposing door. 

Once inside however, an amazing sight greeted us, a magnificent courtyard, small pool, palm trees and entry to our rooms was via the courtyard. The rooftop had a panoramic view of Marrakech. 

A walk back to the central square reinforced and imprinted the route into the tired brain. A quick feed at a local eatery saw us down some traditional Moroccan tucker and a walk back to the riad through the square which by now was absolutely buzzing with life. An eclectic mix of people walking in all directions and weaving between us were scooters, scooters and more scooters. All deftly driving and how they missed each other clearly demonstrated the experience the riders had amazed in these conditions.

So 23:00 Marrakech time we headed back to have head hit the pillow and, hmmm... wait, I think I was already asleep before my head hit the pillow, such was the arduous nature of the long journey from South to North of the equator, from Oz to Morocco.

Following our roof-top breakfast we headed off to explore Marrakech ending up in the tanneries and experiencing the wonders of the tanning process and subsequent manufacture of bag, boot, belts in fact, all this leather.

Back fro lunch at the same establishment saw Lynne and Michael join us as late arrivals from Spain. Lynne and Michael have already supported the mDA with their participation in Trekking Nepal and Mt Blanc through the two respective ChallengeMD eventas.

A local guide then led us on a marvellous journey through the old city to markets, university, museum and places of interest. Just as well he did lose us as we would have been lost without him. Such narrow lanes, twists and turns and a distinct lack of landmarks was a recipe for "losing oneself" in Marrakech.

Back to refresh and now we are about to head off to dinner.

 

Boris' Blog Entry No 3 - "They're still flying"

Words and inspiration escapes me at present. 

We had a two hour stop-over in Dubai and the airport now resembles a huge shopping mall. A lot to see but when you really look, not a great deal to buy.

Seat 20A this time, obviously by the window and the middle seat has been blocked-out so I have armrest up and stretched out. Not much point though having a window seat when all that is visible is thick brown polluted haze which stops several thousand feet below us. 

It not for the digital map on screen, I'd have no idea if we are flying over land or water. All looks the same.

This leg from Dubai to Casablanca is 8.5 hours and NO, by this point in time  I do not want to "play it again". This has been a loooooooong journey thus far and we still have one more leg to do - Casablanca to Marrakech. And, to get back home will be a repeat of this!

Alexandria is below us and and we still have 4.5 hours to go. You can see the sensitivities of this area as the flight path from Dubai is quite convoluted with several turns of sufficient degree to bypass countries like Iraq and several other "hot spots".

The map indicates the projected flight-path which will in effect follow the northern coast line from Alexandria all the way to Morocco.

Just tried the wifi to upload this entry but alas this plane is not connected to the outside world, so...

Time to try and snooze.

 

Challenge MD Morocco - Boris' Blog Entry No 2 - "They're off"

Moving rather swiftly now at Mach .84 with a head wind of 54kpm. at 10363 meters.

We've been air-born for nearly two hours and not yet half-way across this wonderful country of ours and the mind is already actively thinking of what's in store for us. But more on that in a paragraph or two...

The last hour was spent frantically packing making sure nothing was missed. No matter how big the bag, it fills to capacity way too quickly. Yes the cartoon does really capture the moment although my legs are not quite that skinny.

Nearly out the door and I realise that 'Monkey" has not been packed. A quick search, , he's found and packed for his long journey. "Monkey" stands approximately 20cm tall and was born at Ansett Airlines and travelled all over Oz. When the airline went belly up, Leon brought the orphaned monkey home and since then he has travelled the world first with Leon and now with me.

In fact Monkey was a huge hit during ChallengeMD  Nepal when he became great mates with Shireen's "Teddy". He is a great travelling companion and opens the doors for many photographic opportunities. But enough about Monkey for now. You will see pics of him in action once we start trekking.

Ineke and Ryan dropped me off at the airport at 18:00 and about half hour before checkin opens. Was I one of the first? No way, a squillion people were already in the queue and it was a long wait to get to the counter.

Dressed in our ChallengeMD Morocco tops we were quite the sight and found each other easily, converted our AUD into Euro and adjourn to PJ O'Briens for a LL&B and a bowl of carbs...

Immigration was painless and when I asked for my passport to be stamped (which they did) I was advised that the stamping process would cease on the 1st July. most countries are following suit given it's all done electronically now.  So does that mean my next passport will be a single page and not the current 72 page edition I have?

Heading to our gate lounge I was somewhat amused to see two Captains (yep, easy to tell with all that gold braid) and two FOs standing in front of the flight display scratching their heads trying to find their plane. I asked if they were looking for Emirates EK 407 - much to my surprise they were. He was my Captain to be. I asked him given his navigation skillsor lack thereof,  resulted in losing his plane, if we would end up in Dubrovnik instead of Dubai. An affable individual from Stockholm Sweden we walked and chatted for some time. He was most interested in ChallengeMD and what we were doing it for. Was this a sponsorship opportunity? I was now just hoping he would get us to our destination.

So back to Mach  .84 Heading 305 and 2092 km from our departure point.  We passed over Broken Hill, was that an omen that the "hill" of Mt Toubkal would break us. Never fear, minutes later we were flying over Coober Pedy and the  thought entered my mind that ChallengeMD (now wait for it) was a gem of an idea!!

So here I sit in 80J thanks to Andy at Wings Away. What's so special about this seat, it happens to be the emergency exit row, just two seats, nothing to my right and a PhD student from Menzies Uni in Hobart to my left.  I think Andy advised Emirates that I was a retired 6' 8" ex basketball player in need of heaps of leg room. It seems to have worked.

The PhD student Lucy, is on her way to Heidelberg to present at a scientific conference. Her first international presentation and she claims her first trip overseas as well. Which begs the question does flying from Tassie to Melbourne count as an overseas trip?

Well it's past midnight MLB time and Marble Bar and Port Headland have just appeared on the flight screen.  We'll soon be leaving Oz and entering the charted waters of the Indian Ocean. Somewhat significantly, India features highly for the Struks as Leon completed a 4,003 km journey from SW India to NE India in a 3 wheel Tuk Tuk. "Never again" were the first words he uttered arriving home on a 6:30 flight this morning and here I am 18 hours later on my journey to Morocco for MD.

Eyes are getting heavy and it's time to add to the noise level of the roaring engines with the dulcet tones of my snoring.

Over and out for now...

What a bizarre coincidence,  waking from a light sleep I discover precisely where we are - directly over Kochi India. This was Leon's start off point for the Rickshaw Run. 

We are still hurtling along at 918 km ph and in the direction of Mecca with  just 2,535 kms from Dubai and breakfast is about to be served. I'm impressed, this is not your (sub)standard airline food that one comes to expect - it's refreshingly tasty and presented well. Enough of my gratuitous plug for Emirates.

Now "only" 4 hours from Dubai so time to sign-off and dispatch this via the onboard wifi. Haven't times changed? Even at 30,000'  we are still connected. I'm just waiting for reality to catch up to the science fiction of Star Trek  where we'll be able to say "Beam me up Borry" do a far flung land - instantly!

Over and out...

 

First BLOG Entry Thursday 2nd May 2013

With less than a handful of hours remaining before the ChallengeMD Team meets at Melbourne Airport, I have found a quiet moment to write the first words and entry in to what will become Boris' Blog or Blood Sweat and Tears all for the cause! or, Why do I punish myself – take your pick.

I feel somewhat guilty because yesterday I had to cancel Rozi - my fitness trainer from my last pre-departure session. This "pocket rocket" has improved my chances considerably for success. Now we can measure success by many standards and for me it will be surviving ChallengeMD1 2013 Morocco. We thought that Mt Blanc was tough, however Dave from RAW Travel sprang the following statement upon me – “Boris, the hardest day of Mt Blanc will be the easiest day for the Atlas Mountains!” What? You have got to be kidding me!

So with Rozi’s help I should make it to some point below or up to the summit of 4167 meters.

I’m uncertain of ‘phone reception so the Boris’ Blog entries may be somewhat sporadic. I will be carrying a GPS Tracker and this will be activated once we are en route. All you need do is click on the Follow Us Live via GPS tab on the left.

I take this opportunity to than all the sponsors and donors who have generously supported the ChallengeMD Team. Your support makes all of this worthwhile.  If you have an itchy finger and a few spare $$$s then consider clicking the Sponsor a Trekker tab also on the left.

So, my bags are nearly packed and thanks to a great friends’ sense of humour, the following image is her interpretation of my packing skills.

That’s enough for now, but do look skyward at 21:30 and send us a smile and wave while we climb to 30,000’ on our way to our first pit-stop at 05:00 in Dubai.

Until the next time,

Boris   

Packing

Yes, this is me hours before departure.