Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chinita and The Gringo

As a short segue to our story it's worth saying that Team Livin' La Vida Loca Moto is an unlikely one. Formed at the last minute after Zaya decided to undertake all five of The Adventurists motoring adventures in one year and Mike spontaneously dropped everything for the opportunity of a month in Peru. Zaya had met Mike and Tom last year at the Mongol Rally finish line while she was back home visiting her family. A native of Mongolia, she has lived in the United States for 11 years and was drawn to the Mongol Rally for roughly the same reasons the rest of the lunatics are - the sheer joy and challenge of discovery. Behind the wanderlust lies Zaya's goal of helping promote Mongolia as a destination and promoting global travel to an increasingly wealthy Mongolian population.

There's a slight age difference, a mere 26 years between our two heroes, that invariably confused everyone they met. Were these two father and adopted daughter? Friends? Lovers, possibly? Mike quickly learned the phrase "solo amigos!". Which generally led to a sigh of relief from both younger men and older, somewhat envious ones.

Hailing from Mongolia meant that Zaya was constantly mistaken for being Chinese or occasionally Korean. Even after explaining where Mongolia was one fellow was convinced that she should have been African, not Asian. After all Angola is in Africa, isn't it? The shorthand for any Asian woman in Peru is Chinita. There is no mistaking Mike's Gringo-ness, though. Being foreign is one thing, traveling with someone you barely know is another. In the end our heroes brought not only a shared sense of adventure, as all the participants on the Junket do, but big warm smiles that opened many doors and helped make many new friends, as you will find out.

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