An Adventure of a Lifetime: The Rallye Aïcha Des Gazelles
Imagine driving through 2,500km of Moroccan desert, through sand dunes, dried out riverbeds and, of course, sand as far as the eye can see. Imagine it without a GPS unit or a cell phone. No roads, no guide, just your partner and a map. Take a moment to watch this video and really grasp the magnitude of The Rallye Aïcha Des Gazelles of Morocco.
What does this have to do with Van Houtte? Let’s just say, they like a good challenge! It was Van Houtte’s Marketing Vice President, Isabelle Pasquet-Geairon and her great friend, Lydia Pater who together undertook the adventure of a lifetime.
It’s a rally that tests every inch of the mind, soul and body. It is not a race, but a challenge for women only, a challenge that features women from all over the world doing something nearly impossible. The point of the Rallye is not to reach the finish line first, but to get from checkpoint to checkpoint in the shortest distance. To navigate through the desert, every team is given only a compass and a map!
Isabelle and Lydia jumped into their challenge with an Isuzu D-Max and the blessings of their families. “Without their [family] support, all this would have been impossible,” Isabelle said when explaining her journey. It was full of laughter, anger, sadness and joy, but, according to her, well worth it. Isabelle and Lydia did the challenge for a few reasons. First it was to raise money for the Fondation des Gouverneurs de l’Espoir, an organization that helps children with cancer. A total of $20,000 was raised for the Fondation and the financing of young Émilie Régnier’s studies. The Rallye also used proceeds to give medical attention to the less fortunate in different parts of Morocco (and no prize money is awarded). And finally, for the thrill and the adventure that will forever be engraved in sand.
With their Canadian flags waving proudly, even Van Houtte’s logo across the off-road Isuzu looked proud as Isabelle and Lydia finished first among all Canadians and an amazing 34th out of 120 teams. Perhaps it was the coffee they drank, but it’s clear that they had determination, courage, smarts and a whole lot of guts!
It was not an easy endeavor and being away from family and friends for almost 15 days was very difficult. It was 9 days of actual competition, including a stretch that lasted 2 whole straight days. In the end, Isabelle and Lydia accomplished an amazing feat only they and their fellow competitors will ever really understand.
Congrats Isabelle and Lydia, I raise my mug to you