Getting into Gear: 15 March 2024

Negombo, Sri Lanka

Today is the day we finally got to meet the rickshaw that will (hopefully) carry us across the country! We will be staying in Negombo for a few days as we finish preparing for the official launch of the Rickshaw Run on Sunday.

We arrived at the Kumudu Valley Resort just north of Negombo, and immediately knew we were in the right place. Dozens of rickshaws stood ready for us on the first day of test driving.

After signing some paperwork, we were finally handed the key to our tuk-tuk!

We started the day with driving practice, and it did not go well...

Kyle struggled to get the tuk-tuk to turn on, and kept lurching forward and stalling out when trying to get into first gear.

Kim could actually get the tuk-tuk moving quite well, and spent a lot of the morning practicing in the parking lot at the resort. So far, she's the best driver of the three of us.

Michael was also able to drive decently, although he didn't get much of a chance to practice.

Needless to say, we are going to need a lot of practice tomorrow as we haven't even been out on the road yet.

We, like every other team we've spoken to, have already had a few minor issues with our rickshaw, but they have thankfully been far minor than what some of our friends have experienced. Our handlebar was loose and kept coming off as we were changing gears, and at one point our back window popped off. The crew helped though, and we were back on the road in no time.

The rickshaws are finicky and temperamental, but they are also sturdy, tough, and fairly resilient. I'm sure we will have some mechanical issues on the road, but hopefully nothing too complex for us to be able to fix ourselves.

After lunch we received our Sri Lankan Exchange Permit, an official license issued by the Automobile Association of Ceylon, which we need to carry with us at all times alongside our International Drivers Permit from the US and our domestic drivers licenses.

We also received our very official Adventurists license, which entitles us to drive "an autorickshaw, the pinnacle of motorized engineering" along with a Rickshaw Run t-shirt, a handful of stickers, and an official piece of "multifunctional headwear" (a sort of bandana).

Test driving was open all day, but Kim wasn't feeling well. A combination of a persistent head cold and the heat, humidity, and bright sunlight of the outdoor test-driving grounds made her feel really exhausted, so we returned to the hotel after lunch to rest. Kim took a nap, and Kyle and Michael took a dip in the pool to cool down.

We returned to the Kumudu Valley Resort in the evening for the official launch party. Even though Kim wasn't feeling her best, we didn't want to miss it.

The evening started with a live performance of traditional music and dance, followed by a phenomenal Sri Lankan buffet. 

We had a great chance to socialize with some of the other teams. Some of our best friends on the run include Team All Work and No Play and Team Ho Ho Ho And Away We Go. We really enjoyed spending the evening talking with them about their planned routes and sharing all of our mutual worries and anxieties about the adventure ahead. It's nice to know that it's not just us who are nervous about the Run.

Before heading back to the hotel for a good night's sleep, Michael and Kyle checked something off of their list of must-do experiences in Sri Lanka: trying arrack.

Ceylon Arrack is a traditional Sri Lankan liquor made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers. We hit up the cash bar to try a sip of this ancient distilled beverage (which tastes like a mix between a brandy and a dark rum). In Sri Lanka, it's often served with soda and a slice of lime.

We left the party around 9. Michael and Kyle wanted to make sure that Kim could get lots of rest and hopefully feel as good as new for the run on Sunday. We stopped in at a local pharmacy on the way back to the hotel and called it an early night.

Our driving really didn't go so well today. We are all feeling a little bit discouraged, but tomorrow is a new day! We still have an entire day of test driving ahead of us before setting out on our adventure. Wish us luck.

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