Looking for a change of pace during your summer vacation? Tired of sunny beaches and drinks with tiny umbrellas? Look no further than the Mongol Rally, an adventurous road trip organized by the Mongolian Principle Charity Mercy Corps.
Participants from all over the world pile into tiny cars and drive from London to Ulaan Baatar, the capital of Mongolia, for the sake of making a financial contribution to a charity of the participants’ choosing.
Georgetown sophomore, Rich Rinaldi (MSB ’12) decided to take this trip along with fellow Jersey Boy Alex Insel this summer. Choosing a European-made Ford ‘Ka,’ bought on eBay, the duo drove 8,100 miles through thirteen countries.
The 30-day trip was not without its pitfalls. Rinaldi himself, in fact, crashed the car on the day before the rally was scheduled to start (as is typical of many New Jersey drivers). A friendly British mechanic, however, took the boys into his own home, fed them, and fixed their car so they could start the trip on time.
In Kazakhstan, potholes on the country roads were often bigger than the 1.3 Liter Ford the two relied on. During the final stretch, one of the car’s tires blew out during a snowstorm in the Mongolian mountains, prompting one to wonder why anyone would opt to take this trip in the first place.
“It’s for charity, and it’s for adventure,” Rinaldi explained. The Jersey Boys have raised over $2,000 for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, an organization that runs an orphanage outside of Ulaan Baatar, thanks to contributions from friends and local businesses in New Jersey.
If any readers are thinking about trading Caribbean beaches for Eurasian deserts, Rinaldi has some advice: Russian traffic cops will give you ice cream if you bribe them enough and the Super Mash Brothers are the right start to any day of driving over treacherous terrain.