Children in Pakistan

The first leg of the challenge has taken me through 11 different countries covering 10,000 miles. There have certainly been several times when I thought I wouldn’t get to this point but there has never been an instant where I regretted trying.

There have been a great number of experiences that I will never forget and some that I would rather, but my lasting memory will always be the people that I have met along the way; the warmth, friendliness and general helpfulness that they have so freely offered. It really started in Vienna and has grown with every new country I have visited, but perhaps in Iran more than anywhere.

The tourist sight that made the most impression is, by far, the Golden Temple. Simply amazing. Then there were the termite houses in Kandovan, the Wagah border ceremony and the Jantar Mantar observatory in Dehli.

The most memorable natural spectacles will be the picturesque mountains along the Caspian coast in Astara, the wilderness area of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, and the mountains of Himachel Pradesh.

I could not possibly exclude from this summary ‘Bridget’, in so many ways the hero of the episode. The punishment that this car has borne would have caused many much younger, more robust and suitably designed vehicles to give up the ghost (Christophe please let me know that you made it OK). The list of parts required has gradually grown and includes new shock absorbers, rear springs, passenger side wing mirror, windscreen, hub covers and headlamp protectors. It’s quite likely that there will be more once we get it onto a lift and can examine it properly, particularly the steering. Thanks go again to Dave, the mechanical genius in Oxford, and his worthy counterpart, the Maharana’s Head Mechanic in Udaipur.

I hope you have enjoyed following the journey with us. We now have 28 countries regularly checking our progress, many from places not on our route, including people in the Netherlands, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and New Zealand. Also very encouraging is the rapidly increasing number of people in the USA keeping track; hope to meet some of you when we arrive there but you don’t have to wait, just post a comment today and join in. I am thoroughly looking forward to meeting many of Australia’s MG enthusiasts and also have high hopes of raising a creditable amount of funds for charity!

But at the end of this first leg the single most memorable happening was an encounter I had with a family in a park in Pakistan. It is a regular thing for families to all go to the parks in the evenings just to enjoy family time together and their surroundings. This particular family included nine children, five dressed in matching clothes, whose ages ranged from the baby to around eleven years. They had spied this foreigner and one of them summoned up the courage to run over and say “Hello” and then hastily run away. The others, not to be outdone quickly joined in until all of them, one carrying their baby brother, came to ‘talk’ to the stranger. I managed to get a couple of photos of them and have posted them with some other Pakistani and Indian children.

It was a timely reminder of one of the reasons for doing this event and I ask, again, for you to remember the work done by UNICEF.

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