The After Photo ++

We are cleaning all the chips in cameras and have some video to post below...and maybe more will come my way?

Also down below are the blog links of the teams that blogged. (Everyone starts out with good, noble daily blogging intentions that are eventually sabatoged by their active involvment in the world...)

And finally, you will have to dig down in the blog roo to find the "Before" photo taken 23 days earlier...but here is our graduating class of 2015 team photo. Congrats all!



A few videos too...

The Sydney Sisters  - One Minute Interview from Melbourne



Temple activity on a high holy day at Tampaksiring - Bali, Indonesia


NOLA Second Line in Bali (including famed elephant gone beserk footage)


Mickey (of Buns & Bird) trying to mount a camel in Abu Dhabi...from the How not to file...

The Savvy Scavengers at the gold ATM in Abu Dhabi...



Buns & Bird - One Minute Interview from Cartagena, Colombia



Cartagena Street Dancers in Plaza Bolivar...

Team Blogs & Photos from some Teams:

Buns & Bird blog

Lawyers without Borders blog

Savvy Scavengers blog 

Erik's Global Observations...

Hello World (Alan Emtage Facebook page

Until we met again...happy travels. 
 

The World's Greatest Travelers of 2015 are...

The end is near…of the adventure that is. 

 
The teams all checked in on time at the Biscayne Bay-front Blue Water café (thank you William!) for at the conclusion of our Miami leg for the 2015 crowning ceremony of The World’s Greatest Travelers.
 
We were pleased to have some surprise Global Scavenger Hunt alum come out; Margarita and Demetrius (aka Miami in the Mix) and Michael Roberts (aka Traveling Tigers), participants of our 2013 event. After handing out teams their “I survived…” t-shirts tallying the Miami leg score sheets, the ceremony began…
 
The first order of business was to name the winner of annual players pool. In Los Angeles at the Bon Voyage party we asked everyone to guess which countries they would be visiting on their Blind Date with the World. It is always entertaining for us to see their guesses. This year the winning number was 4 of 10 (actually a good year as percentages go!) and it was tie split between Jim and Erik who split the pot.
 
Then we had to honor the team that stayed in the cheapest hotel room on the 3rd day of the European leg with a fine bottle of French champagne. The winners stayed in a $46 (not Euro) room in Montpellier, France—the Sydney Sisters showed their true commitment earning an extra 100 points as well as some bubbly. 
 
Each participant the received an official and individualized Circumnavigator’s Certificate honoring their achievement of circling the globe in one trip. For one traveler it was their 13th such trip. Others counted their 8th and a few others weighted in with 6 and few with four. All serious achievements, too bad there is no real organization to join other than our own fraternity and that honors Enrique of Malacca (Magellan’s room boy) as the first to circumnavigate the globe in 1521.
 
Then we announced the winners of the Miami leg (Par 1)…as it had no barring on the final results only bragging rights were involved. And just as the Sydney Sisters defended their nation’s pride in winner the home court Melbourne leg, an America team dug down deep to protect the home turf. It was somewhat a surprise because the Sydney Sisters were looking for a first ever event clean sweep from start to finish. But it was not to be as Buns and Bird completed one more scavenge finally breaking through and earning first place in the Miami leg. Good job guys, we all know you worked hard to make it happen today. (BTW: I would be neglect if I did not bring up the fact that 2004 event we held was actually won on the last day when one team left one scavenge uncompleted! Yep, we still remember that—and we are sure they do too!)
 
Before the main event however, we honored the primary reason that this event is held each year—to help others help themselves through the efforts of the Great Escape Foundation’s work. We are not one's to hit people over the head with charitable giving as we truly believe that anonymous giving is always the most noble giving...but please indulge me for a minute as I boast about our Foundation. We started the GreatEscape Foundation well over a decade ago, and over the years some of our teams have personally visited and helped out worthy causes at: Tibetan refugee camps in Nepal, orphanages in Laos, hospitals in Cambodia, homeless schools India, hospices in Manila, disabled facilities in Sri Lanka, and more...
For some, those efforts have been life changing. (In fact, Margarita the alum with us just came back from performing a month’s worth of volunteer work in Cambodia as a direct result of her doing the same for a few hours back in 2013!)We have done some great things over the years too funding ten schools: 1 in Niger, 1 in Ecuador, and 1 in India, 2 in Sri Lanka, 2 in Sierra Leone, and 3 in Kenya...we know we are changing the lives of thousands of kids—especially young girls! And we have help build the Tamensa Medical Clinic in Niger for migrating Tuareg nomads...and a Nurse training center there too... again, we know that we saved lives and have bettered the lives of hundreds. With the Foundation’s microloan efforts, we have helped over 1300 families in more than 55 countries to date too—mostly women/mother entrepreneurs. And this year, as a direct result of this event, we will do more..including helping out the victims of the tragic Nepali earthquake—a country we have visited twice in the past. Good job to all that asisted and thank you to all that have given. 
 
Finally, we all know The Global Scavenger Hunt is the world travel championship, and like any competition with a trophy and prize attached, one Team has to win. So without further ado…The Miami leg of course did not affect our standings coming out of Europe and Colombia, and that means that:
 
In 3rd Place: Are just great wonderful travelers who for eight consecutive years now have truly embrace the spirit in which we created this event back in 2000…it being all about site-doing…about trusting strangers in strange lands…about going for it…and about getting out of our comfortable default positions and daily routines. Zoe and Rainey are four time champions and last year’s defending champions…but they are champions no more…we all know them as Lawyers without Borders (Zoe and Rainey)! Congrats on third place—you have medaled in each and every year you have participated. 
  

Lawyers without Borders (Zoe & Rainey), Defending champs no more...3rd place in 2015. 
 
In 2nd Place: Another team we have all really grown fond of on this 2015 adventure…a team that also embraced what this event is all about; they worked hard, kept on coming with energy and joy…and had a lot of fun doing it too…they were both always easy with their smiles and welcoming in conversations…in second place is a team with true travel bona fides no one can question—Buns & Bird (Tania & Mickey)! Great job you guys, proud of you both!



Buns & Bird (Mickey & Tania) not only newlyweds and 2nd place finishers...but #1 in our hearts!
 
And of course that means that the Sydney Sisters (Fiona & Katrina) have fully redeemed themselves from their 2012 second place (always a bride maid) showing…they almost swept the event from the first leg to last…they just never stopped…but we know they had an amazing time and earned this trophy with their hard work…and I am pleased that they are the winners, the worthy winners of the 2015 world travel championships we know as The Global Scavenger Hunt…who can now call themselves The World's Greatest Travelers for 2015! A tremendous achievement and one they should both be very proud of…amazing job both of you!



The Sydney Sisters (Katrina & Fiona), bridesmaids no more...The World's Greatest Travelers for 2015

Official 2015 leader board final results.
 
And that concludes the 2015 edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt. We hope you all had the time of your lives for the last 23-days…some of you will be back we know. And to those that we won’t be traveling again with, both Pamela and I thank you for joining us on our 11th edition of our travel adventure. Thank you all!


 
Our Winners Gala dinner will be held this evening at Miami’s #1 restaurant Toro Toro. There we will share some fun 9and I am sure not son funny) taxi driver jokes. We will see if any team enlisted more than 28 modes of public transportation during their participation—the 2009 record! We see who obtained the World’s Tackiest Souvenir. Who had the best Global Price Index and best Travel Collection too.
 
I will post one more blog in the coming days summing the 2015. Until then, thank you all. 
 

Day 23 - The Travel World Championship comes to an end in Miami today

Good Morning from Miami.

"The most valuable things in life are not possessions, but rather the experiences that bring us closer to each other and to ourselves. That is why I still regard travel as the most fulfilling and worthwhile pastime. Nothing provides greater lifelong value than an inspiring journey taken in friendly company." - Geoffrey Kent
 
As the CEO (aka Chief Experience Officer) of The Global Scavenger Scavenger Hunt--but I have come to think of myself as the Ring Master of this epic traveling circus—I am thrilled to report that everyone has returned safely to the country we all began this event 23 short, through at times long, days ago. Of course that proves that the world is not going to hell in a hand basket and that we did not get gobbled up in some foreign land. 
 
But today ends the 2015 edition of the world travel championship and our 23-day, 10 country, 5 continent quick lap around the world. And it is my sincere belief, derived from now dare I say decades of travel experience, that indeed traveling around the world remains a grand gesture. And we did it in 23-days. All 57,218 kilometers (35,554 miles)…circa orbem (around the world). It is an extraordinary achievement even in todays world. And yet, that Great Circle is  obviously possible. We as an annual event have now successfully done it 11 times I am happy to say—and still have yet to lose anyone in the process. But as a competition, one that test the travel savvy of our competitors, I believe that globe-trotting is the ultimate test of human endurance and no less interesting if done with the correct mindset, albeit today it is a lot safer and faster! 
 
Think of the rich diversity of people and cultures we experienced in Fiji, Colombia, Bali, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and even more traditional destinations like Melbourne, Milan, the South of France and Catalonia.Think of the countless amazing personal experiences our competitors were “forced” to endure: hold sloths, tasting new delicious cuisines, meeting underwater sea creatures of various shapes and sizes, climbing volcanoes, swimming the seven seas (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Oceans and the Persian Gulf, Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas to mention a few), and the people they met around the world. 
 
When I began this crazy endeavor back in 2000—with the single purpose of wanting to do it myself (albeit vicariously through the eyes and travel tales of our competitors) I naively thought the event would be all about the exotic destinations and amazing foreign back drops. But what I have of course come to know is that our travels are really all about the people; the people participating in our event and the people they encounter along the way. In the final analysis, no matter how savvy our travelers skills are. No matter how large their obvious Travel IQ’s are. This event in the end is about our travelers trusting strangers in strange lands. And happily I can report that their cups runneth over with scores of personal encounters that touched their lives—and helped them succeed in this competitive endeavor.   
 
So, today is the day…one last quick urban experience in a western city—Miami. It will be a challenge because infrastructure in this country is wanting and public transportation is not on par with other places we have visited. But I have no doubt that by 4:00PM when they all return from a full day of scavenges with them telling us about how they had to trust strangers in a not so strange land will win the day. 
 
The World’s Greatest Travelers will be crowned in my next post. We are happy/sad that the 11th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt is coming to an end…stay tuned!

Official event results after the Par 3 Colombian leg. 
 
Please friend/like us on Facebook... and YouTube. 
 
Finally, The Global Scavenger Hunt is not just about a great international travel adventure that ultimately crowns The World’s Greatest Travelers in the annual world travel championship, it is also about helping others help themselves. As avid passionate travelers we see the true plight of most of the people in the world and this event was created in the spirit of giving back through the GreatEscape Foundation’s work. This year, to celebrate the 11th edition of our event, our goal is to fund 11 schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that— empowering both girls and boys. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small secure online PayPal donation during the course of the 2015 event, we know that a lot of kids needing a basic education that would thank you. And we will thank you too…with a tax receipt. 
 ___________________________________________________
The 2015 Teams competing for The World’s Greatest Travelers™ trophy in the 11th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt travel adventure competition:
 
Lawyers without Borders (Zoe & Rainey): 
Buns & Bird (Tania & Mickey): 
Savvy Scavengers! (Tamyra & Kate):
½ of the Odd Couple (Erik): 
Captain Marvel & PI Baby (Michael & Nita): 
Sydney Sisters (Fiona & Katrina): 
Tatakau Brothers (Ben & Jordan): 
NOLA Second Line (Betty & Jim): 
Hello World (Alan & Michael):
 

Leaving Colombia - Day 22

Dateline: Day 22 – May 1 – Saying good Bye to Cartagena

There was a certain amount of melancholy lingering in the air at our 10:00AM Cartagena check-in this morning. Teams are happy but sad. Happy to have completed a sweltering leg in an extraordinary destination; yet sad with the realization that the end of the 2015 edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt is just around the corner, with one final flight to Miami and then one glorious last urban scavenger hunt in Miami tomorrow…and then puff, their 23-day around the world adventure is over. 
 
Yes, all the teams were present and accounted for at the meeting and were given their 4-Hour Notice with flight and hotel information. And thus we leave Cartagena at 1:40PM bound for Miami. Our three night stay at the warm and welcoming boutique Movich Hotel Cartagena de Indias all but over: No more lat night swims in the infinity pool overlooking the historic district of the old walled city. No more sweet Caribbean sundowner cocktails on the roof top terrace. And no more freshly cut breakfast fruits served by the colorfully dressed ladies.
 
Colombia is a happy place, like Fiji mentioned earlier in our first blog post. The people of Colombia rank high on the Happy Planet Index. The country did have a bad narcoterrorism reputation from the drug cartels and a rash of high profile kidnappings in the 1980’s and 90’s…a lingering guerrilla war didn’t help matters either. But those days are long gone, and the fresh exciting dynamic of this country with 47 million proud people cannot be denied. Things are growing here. Buildings are being built. There is a large middle class and order has been restored. And they are eating, singing and dancing here in Cartagena.  
 
The port city of Cartagena has well over 1 million people in the metro area, but it does seem that big as the barrio/districts are spread out. The city has a proud history too: this strategic port was never captured due to it’s sophisticated fortification systems protecting the port from the sea and Cartagena was the first Spanish colony on the American continent as well as one of the first sanctuaries for freed African slaves in the Americas. Of course it did not take long to to get noticed on the tourism route when in1984 Cartagena's colonial walled city and fortress (much like Quebec City) were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
And why not, it is a beautiful, sexy town with engaging people and many culinary treasures. Sure the faded colonial grandeur of old has given way to entrepreneurs eager to cash in on the many charms the city of  balcony-filled bougainvilleas and  sultry nightlife has too offer. The 500 year-old fortified city walls (mostly made of coral stone)  aren’t just a photogenic artifact—they’re the reason Cartagena de Indias is still standing. But outside the walls, for those seeking real adventure are the neighborhoods of Centro, San Diego, Getsemaní and the modern part La Matuna. It is Getsemani that is undergoing a 21st-century renaissance from bad boy barrio to an edgy hip place to party, eat, shop in interesting boutiques and find modern art. 
 
And speaking of art, in modern culture Cartagena is know to have inspired Gabriel García Márquez's masterpiece "Love in the Time of Cholrea" novel, the 1984 movie "Romancing the Stone", the 1986 film "The Mission" was shot here and of course from the bad drug days of the 1980’s we got, Glenn Frey’s  song "Smuggler's Blues".
 
So a final few photos and we are off to Miami!


Playa Blanco


Fruit Ladies



 
Please friend/like us on Facebook... and YouTube. 
 
Finally, The Global Scavenger Hunt is not just about a great international travel adventure that ultimately crowns The World’s Greatest Travelers in the annual world travel championship, it is also about helping others help themselves. As avid passionate travelers we see the true plight of most of the people in the world and this event was created in the spirit of giving back through the GreatEscape Foundation’s work. This year, to celebrate the 11th edition of our event, our goal is to fund 11 schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that— empowering both girls and boys. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small secure online PayPal donation during the course of the 2015 event, we know that a lot of kids needing a basic education that would thank you. And we will thank you too…with a tax receipt. 
 ___________________________________________________
The 2015 Teams competing for The World’s Greatest Travelers™ trophy in the 11th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt travel adventure competition:
 
Lawyers without Borders (Zoe & Rainey): 
Buns & Bird (Tania & Mickey): 
Savvy Scavengers! (Tamyra & Kate):
½ of the Odd Couple (Erik): 
Captain Marvel & PI Baby (Michael & Nita): 
Sydney Sisters (Fiona & Katrina): 
Tatakau Brothers (Ben & Jordan): 
NOLA Second Line (Betty & Jim): 
Hello World (Alan & Michael):
 

Horse Carriages, Humidity and Fun in Colombia

 

Dateline: Day 20 - April 29 – Cartagena, Colombia 
 
We arrived late here in sultry Cartagena. And we are happy to say that the air conditioning and pool are both delicious amidst the 98% humidity.  
 
Teams were just given their marching orders for an lazy and Easy Par 3 leg here in Cartagena, an old Spanish port city on the Caribbean coast. We will see them all in 48 hours (Friday at 10:00AM) and give them four hour notice that we are completing the 2015 event in Miami. (No surprise here as everyone already knew that.)
 
The hard Par 5 Euro leg was decided by the completion of Bonus scavenges. Two teams did not hand in scavenger hunt score sheets. That left an active field of six teams working the various European routes (North through Switzerland and Lyon and South through Cote d Azur and Provence). There were no losers here, just different wants and strategies. When the dust cleared and the scores were tallied, here is how it shuck out: The Savvy Scavengers took the Southern route completing 1 Bonus and earned 1,420 points in sixth place for the leg. In fifth place, completing 4 Bonus scavenges was Hello World with 2,610 points. Then came the Tatakau Brothers who also took the Southern route completing 5 Bonus scavenges and earning 3,235 points. Then came the top three leg finishers: Lawyers without Borders also completed 5 Bonuses and 83 scavenges total to earn 4,190 points. In second place, a team the actually completed the most scavenges on the leg with 112, but who took the unorthodox Northern route through Geneva and only completed 3 Bonuses was Buns & Bird who earned 4,990 points. But as mentioned, it was the Bonuses that led the way in Europe and the always thinking Sydney Sisters completed a whopping nine Bonuses to earn 5,590 points winning their sixth consecutive leg going away. Consistency is the key to success and the Sydney Sisters are nothing if not consistent. (We are checking the historical records to see if any team has won all the legs before 2015—we don’t think so but will report soon!?)
 
So, after 19 leg points out of 23 total, we have the Sydney Sisters deservedly in first place with 19 points, followed in 2nd place by Buns & Bird with 43 points and the defending champions Lawyers without Borders in third place with a distant 67 points. Clearly no team can catch the Sydney Sisters at this point, so it is up to them to finish strong and end on a high note maybe breaking the event record of a clean sheet in all legs. Good luck to them..(when we last some them they were riding bikes through the streets of Cartagena completing scavenges around 9:00PM this evening!)…they never stop!

Official 2015 Leader Board after six legs...just two to go!
 
We are in a great setting and fun place here in Colombia. Mostly due to logistic reasons, this is the first time The Global Scavenger Hunt has come to South America—but certainly not the last. We will have more to report later…but it is serious nap time as we are beyond jet-lagged out picking up 7 hours from our Euro synched bodies…sometimes you just have to let the mind shut off. And we will until later.