"CARTAGENA ? In 48 hours? For a car race? To where? Buenos Aires? No problem.... " I was used to getting last minute assignments to far flung corners of the Earth.This time, I had to scramble. There was a day and a half to acquire proper press credentials,get visas for Colombia and Argentina, plane tickets, sublet my apartment and get shots and pills for yellow fever, typhoid, cholera, encephalitis,hepatitis and malaria,before catching my Friday night flight on Avianca Airlines.

I was to cover a story about The 1988 Trans Amazon Rallye Raid and the band of crazies who were participating. The Trans Amazon was not a typical car race with repetitive loops around the track. This was a point to point race,modeled after the Paris- Dakar. 9000 miles lay in between the two points of Cartagena, Colombia and Buenos Aires, Argentina. There were some obstacles in between that we had to maneuver around through and over. Amongst them: the Amazon Jungle, the Andes Mountains, and the Atacama Desert, driest spot on Earth.

The roads, if you could call them that, were amongst the worst in the world. Although there would sometimes be fine two lane blacktop, most of the race would be through riverbeds,gullies and tracks across the sand dunes. In addition there were minor inconveniences such as 110 degree heat, subzero cold, torrential downpours, flooding,sandstorms and blizzards. The cars were not the sleek Formula One's of the Indy 500. They were for the most part big 4 by 4's converted into Road Warrior machines. In the 1988 Trans Amazon Rallye 105 cars and trucks, and 18 motorcycles were registered. Each car and truck was to consist of three team members: two copilots and one mechanic. The Rallye was run by a rather dubious organization known as the Exploration Society of America,based in New Orleans, Louisiana.