It is hard to know what kind of expectations to have when trying to prepare for a week of driving across the nation with 3 cars and 5 drivers. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream donated 2 element cars and one van with 5-foot billboards on them to draw attention to America about the current crisis going on in Darfur, and the lack of position that China has taken to stop genocide! There were the two lost boys, Ashis, and Liz present for the first part of the ride! The morning started with a Press Conference with Ben, Jerry, the Vermont Mayor, every large newspaper, and local civilians that were excited to see the cars pull out and head westward. Interviews from the Lost Boys to the press, Ashis sharing stories of our friends in the camps, free ice cream, and a great lunch put us behind schedule. We were intended to be in DC late the night of the 26th.
We stopped along the way to fuel the cars, talk to locals, laugh with each other at how many U-Turns we had already done in 300 miles of driving, and make sure we were on track with our maps! I knew that spending so much time with Mamer, Deng, and Ashis left me in deep thought often of all the things they had been through in their lives and how honored I was to get to know them personally. There was something about our group’s energy that made each mile of the drive more exhilarating. I knew that 3,672 miles was a long road trip, but all I could think about was how I wanted to know everything that these three had experienced; their stories; and then have their friendship. We were all smiles around 9:00pm with only 2 hours left to DC. We were already talking about the next morning, what we wanted to accomplish at the Embassy’s, what we wanted to target in the interviews that we had in place, and then what Chicago was going to be like.
As you never can expect we were switching drivers and looking for the interstate when the devastation set in. One of the drivers was going to make a left-handed turn in an intersection and met an Ambulance that was not going the speed limit head on. The impact sent the Honda Element 20 yards and tore off the whole front end, totally the car. After looking back and seeing the damage I am blessed that he was able to walk away without a scratch. I think that everything happens for a reason, but I hope some day since we were not able to continue the drive from coast to coast due to the set back of time this caused, that I still get to share in on the stories of travelers; the friendships and laughs that were already obtained just after hours of our introduction can continue to prosper. Each person on that tour had a story to tell, that America could benefit from hearing!
The cars are being shipped out to the Bay area where they will travel from campus to campus, city to city to pre rally for the event going on April 9th in San Francisco. Ben and Jerry will be present to speak out for Darfur!