This week we ask you and the overlanding community as a whole to pause - pause for a moment to give your strongest thoughts of support, thoughts of safety, and or prayers; whatever it is that you do.
Our friends Jolie King and Mark Firkin of The Way Overland need you. They need all of us. They need every thought, every prayer, all of our positive energy working in their favor.
We received the most disturbing message last Thursday night from a reporter in Australia. She had several questions regarding Mark and Jolies travel experience, how prepared were they? is this something expected by overland travelers? And did we know Mark and Jolie had been in prison in Iran for the last 10 weeks.
At first it was so extreme there was a flash of disbelief, followed by, "we better double check this". So with an immediate Google search on Jolie and Mark, then a quick check of their social media accounts, we quickly discovered this was no joke. Not only was it not a joke it was serious and it was scary!
In prison - In Iran - how? why? what kind of prison? I don't know why, these are just the things that flooded my thoughts. As reality set in, questions and fear for their safety overcame us. My thoughts jumped to another podcast I recalled from a few months back. If you want a first person account of what being in prison in a country like Iran can be like, how fast and screwed up it can go; listen to Mike Ritland on the Mike-Drop Podcast, go to the Chris Osman episode, Part 2. You'll hear just how horrific things can go. This is NO exaggeration.
Is this the same daily reality for Jolie and Mark? We have no idea, we hope not. We have no first hand knowledge or experience with the Evin Prison in Iran. All we know is what you can read on Wikipedia; potentially nightmare, hellish conditions. On the other hand we’ve read that foreigners like Jolie and Mark might be treated much better… So there’s no way of knowing, and we have no desire to strike fear into anyone. While at the same time we’re not naive. Neither are we patient for their release!
Our only hope is to spread awareness, and to ask for positivity, prayers and thoughts of peace and safety for Jolie and Mark. Prayers along with Strong positive thoughts for their safe release to their families. If you’re not into praying, totally cool, please do whatever it is that resonates with you. We need to do whatever it takes to let their families know they're not alone. Jolie and Mark have us, The Overlanding Community!
We did get in contact with a gentleman in Iran that Jolie and Mark stayed with, he had very nice positive things to say about them, which was no surprise. He also told us he had no more information on what happened than what we see in the news.
Today is Tuesday September 17th 2019. Just before recording this, we read that Mark and Jolie were officially charged today by Iran, of spying; over some drone video, or pictures. No other details have been released or documented.
Of course there’s been lots of speculations and assumptions being thrown around, which is the typical thing that unfortunately happens. There's one thing we know for sure, news reports without the people directly involved telling the story are so rarely accurate, that it's all speculation. So we are not tackling those details here. We don’t know what happened, and frankly neither does anyone else but Mark, Jolie and whomever else was there.
It could have been as simple as being searched; the Iranian officials see they had a drone, or obviously a lot of other camera equipment; and they are arrested (or detained) for being spies.
What else we know is that Jolie and Mark are not Spies, not even close! They are absolutely good people with warm hearts who are documenting their travels. Much like any tourists, and much like any blogger or YouTube creator. It has been well established that Jolie and Mark have been willing to help, and answer questions from other overlanders and travelers they don't even know. In our case, two strangers running a podcast in Washington State; literally halfway around the world. They gave us unlimited time to ask our barrage of questions, and ran through two sim cards to do it at the crack of dawn. You never heard that 3 minutes of silence as Mark had to reload their sim card to keep talking to us. All they said was "No Worries" as most Australians are known for saying.
So please - avoid speculation, ignore the jack-wagons throwing asinine suggestions around, I've looked, most of them have no friends and no posts of their own; they're just those kind of people. I’m sure they’d be singing a different tune if it were their own son or daughter, or their own friends.
Our energy and our focus is 100% on Jolie and Mark!
Within this episode we re-play a few segments of their interview back in December. If you would kindly spend this time thinking about them. We do know there’s power in numbers and the overlanding community is just that, a large family of strong people, and the power of positive energy Jolie and Mark need.
Please pass this along for more awareness. We believe the more people aware of their situation, pushing for their immediate release, along with positive thoughts, energy, prayers, or all of it, the faster Jolie and Mark will be free.
Their situation could not be more dire. It is our hope that they are immediately released safely, back to each other, and back to their families.
Thank you for your support, thank you for listening, and thank you for passing this along.
Jolie and Mark - our hearts ache for both of you. With love and support, we can not wait to see that you’ve been safely released.