India 2016 | Rickshaw Run, Day 2: Jaisalmer… And So It Begins — 2 April

Jaisalmer has been an absolute dream, which is a good thing considering the bus ride the night before was a nightmare for everyone but me. As DaveRisner aptly quipped, “I had no idea a bus could drive on square wheels. It was brutal.” Dominated by the fort, we stayed at the Gajju Palace with a beautiful view of it, for one night before moving to Desert Haveli to stay inside the fort. Eating and drinking at the rooftops of both the Gajju Palace for breakfast, but most especially inside the fort for dinner, was simply a magical experience that has to truly be lived. We were the only ones at the rooftop of the Desert Haveli to make the experience that much more memorable. It’s entirely possible that a late night inside the fort after a few cocktails where Derek and I were staring down a few cows convinced us we needed to live there for a bit. Cows have a way of convincing you to do what you’ve always wanted to do. They have superpowers. Especially in India.

While the city inhabits 150,000 people, the fort only has 5,000. Yesterday after checking in, we went to Jawaharas Niwas Hotel, which is also the palace housing the king, to register for the race. And we test drove a rickshaw. Let’s just say I didn’t take to it quite well.

Months later, I would come upon a Facebook post from my dear childhood friend Steve to Derek, “I assume that the only reason you survived is because you never let Cecil get behind the wheel for a second…..

Derek: He got behind the wheel and he almost ran us into on coming traffic but David Risner and I jumped into action quickly as cecil stalled the tuktuk in the oncoming traffic lane and got us onto the shoulder before a truck ended our lives.

Steve: He’s a menace to society behind the wheel

Derek: Cecil uses driving gloves and they are useless for correcting the wheel when he is behind it. Menace is an understatement. Hahaha

Cecil: Derek, Steve, DaveRisner …still searching for a witty comeback

Steve: I’m going to say it again Cecil….. “The inconvenient fact is that it is true. Facts are stubborn things.”

Cecil: Steve- you sound like Howard Zinn rewriting some history

(Back the present which in this case is the distant past…) DaveRisner and Derek were old pro’s within moments. They left for a beer so I could fend for myself. For almost an hour, I went whizzing around completely uncomfortable and frustrated that I couldn’t get the hang of it. For the piston-jockeys out there, the rickshaw is a two-stroke engine, very simple, much like a lawnmower engine. I’ve never ridden a riding lawnmower, so perhaps that could explain everything. I don’t remember much else about its internal mechanical makeup. What I will always remember is how unsafe it felt; and that’s even with much experience riding in the backseat during my many visits to my homeland many times over many years.

That day, we would spend the day meeting friends who we could tell some would be lifetime friends, even then. We went in and out of the complex to decorate the inside of the rickshaw, get spare parts, gas can, etc. We touched up the painting of our rickshaw, which was based upon a design I had sent to The Adventurists — our beloved four-legged best friends: my dog Taylor, Derek’s dog Tucker, and DaveRisner’s cat Bella. There were also references to my blog (, our AlwaysBeEpic moniker, hashtags, and the names of those that donated to our fund.

Oh and we gave out some more #FreeHugs though this time, Derek also joined in on the action. DaveRisner had been dominating the #FreeHug world up until this point, but that’s what’s great about free hugs — the world could use a lot more of them. And one by one, we were all joining in on the revolution.

And I went back out there for more turns at the wheel.

After many experiences confronting my fears, I’ve determined that I am not afraid of being afraid. I’m even quite alright owning up to my insecurities and my vulnerabilities. What I’m not ok with is willingly put myself in a situation where I am not contributing. After this first day, I quickly came to the logical conclusion that I needed to make myself useful. What was frustrating to me was by the end of the day, I still could not figure out how.

And so it begins…

The Rickshaw Run…

Wait… we have not even begun and yet, could the end be near?

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