Interview with Antonio Gonzalez-EA5RM…

Posted: September 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

EA5RM

Antonio Gonzalez-EA5RM in Tifariti, Western Sahara.

Antionio Gonzalez-EA5RM is the leader of the Tifariti Gang, also known as the DX Friends.  Tony and his team have done many great activations and always excite us with the places that they go to and the way that they operate. In 2011, The Tifariti Gang partnered with the Intrepid-DX Group to carry out ST0R from the newly created Republic of South Sudan. A close and endearing friendship was formed that continues to this day. I have great respect for Tony and his Tifariti Gang.

Paul N6PSE: Tony, you are married and live in Elche, Spain?

Antonio-EA5RM: Yes, I live in Elche with my wife and children.

 

Paul N6PSE: How old were you when you obtained your ham license?

Antonio-EA5RM: I obtained my first ham license a short time after I came back home after my service in the Spanish  Army, I was 22 years old.

 

Paul N6PSE: What attracted you to radio?

Antonio-EA5RM: When I was a child, around 10 years old , I started to listen to short-wave broadcast stations using a very old Telefunken receiver that my father brought home from Germany. I was impressed listening to signals coming to my speaker from China , USSR , United States and several other far away countries. My fascination was growing day by day and even I tried to improve the antenna system using my own limited knowledge. The seed was planted.        

 

Paul N6PSE: Tony, Tell us what kind of work do you do in Spain?

I work for the City Government in Elche and I am working right now in the maintenance department.

 

Paul N6PSE: Tell us about the formation of the Tifariti Gang-was it after S05X in 2003?

Antonio EA5RM: The “Tifariti Gang” was born in a spontaneous way. After my first trip to Western Sahara in 2003 as a S05X operator, I fell in love with Sahara desert.

In 2006, I decided to organize my second Dxpedition following my first Dxpedition to Cambodia as XU7ABD. Following that Dxpedition, I wanted to return to Western Sahara desert. I knew that due to logistics problems and the high cost of transportation in the desert, it was best to organize a large team of operators rather than a single man operation.

I asked some of my friends if they were interested in my project. Finally a ten members team was on the air from Western Sahara as S01R. It was on our return trip back home that Fabrizio-IN3ZNR began to call us as the Tifariti Gang. Tifariti is the name of the Western Sahara village from where we were on the air. This was the first Tifariti Gang Dxpedition and the start of a long story that still we are writing.  

 

Paul N6PSE: Tony-You have operated in so many places, Uruguay, Honduras, Cambodia, Guatemala, Mali, three times in Western Sahara, Rwanda, Bethlehem. Tanzania, Kenya, Bolivia, Andorra, San Marino, Israel, Sovereign Order of Malta , Vatican city, Canary Islands, San Andres Island and South Sudan. What was the most scary/dangerous place?    What are the dangers that you and your team faced?

Antonio-EA5RM: A challenging place is Western Sahara where a driver’s mistake or a mishap could have fatal consequences. The Sahara is all desert. There are no roads and even not a clear path between Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria and Tifariti in Western Sahara. You need more than eight hours running with a 4×4 through mine fields, mortar grenades and even 155’s millimeters shells which are still laying around unexploded. So far, we have been very lucky.    

 Personally, after several radio trips around the world the only time I remember I become a little bit nervous was just when I crossed Checkpoint in Ramallah, Palestine, where I went alone to apply for E4X license.  It seemed I was entering inside a battlefield. Fortunately the landscape changed only few meters ahead showing the real Ramallah and I felt like at home.

 

Paul N6PSE: In 2011, you went to the new country of South Sudan and got a license. How did you know that a partnership with the Intrepid-DX Group would work out?

Antonio-EA5RM: Everyone who knows me , knows that I do not like too much to join unknown people to my team. When we did ST0R , things were quite different because I felt that we could do things better joining our efforts and our team members. Although I was working with Americans hams sometime before South Sudan Dxpedition began, I really wasn´t sure that a such a large and heterogeneous team could work together without problems. All my doubts went away just when we started our work together in Juba and we had a very nice experience and we did a great job together from there.

QSL-ST0R

Paul N6PSE: Tony, please tell us about your NGO work in Bolivia?  

Antonio-EA5RM: I am working as NGO volunteer during my free time. I have made four trips to the Bolivian Amazon installing radio communications in remote villages deep inside the jungle for emergencies and medical assistance.  Usually I use my vacation time working there in periods from 20 to 30 days. This is a very hard job due harsh heat and humidity conditions and insects. I am rewarded with the best salary that exists: satisfaction of having done something that has improved the quality of life of others who have nothing.   

 

ea5rm_amazonEA5RM_NGO

Tony-EA5RM doing NGO work in the Amazon

 

Paul N6PSE: Tony, What do you do for fun when you are not involved with Radio?

Antonio-EA5RM: I like sports and specially Hiking.

 

Paul N6PSE: What is in the future for the Tifariti Gang?

Antonio-EA5RM: Well, we are working on some interesting projects for 2015 and ahead. I plan to be organizing DXpeditions as long as health and family permits it. However there are people in this hobby who seem to enjoy placing obstacles in the way and that could be also a factor in our future plans.

 

Paul N6PSE: Tony, Where do you dream of operating from?

Antonio-EA5RM: Without doubt, my dream always was operate from a remote location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

 

Paul N6PSE: When you are organizing a Dxpedition, what are your most difficult challenges?

Antonio-EA5RM: Logistics of course, this is the most difficult . When you are moving 500 kilograms of fragile and expensive materials and eight or more persons to another Continent, there are too many things that you must to bear in mind.

9x0r

Tony and his team were one of the first to activate Rwanda when amateur radio was once again allowed.

Paul N6PSE: Tony, you are also your group’s QSL Manager. What can you tell us about the chores of handling many thousands of QSL requests?

Antonio-EA5RM: I enjoy confirming our QSO, even when I face up to  10 kilos of bureau QSL cards. The worst of the task of a QSL manager, at least for me, is to deal with people who do not understand that this is a hobby, that you are a volunteer and that rude language does not help.  Also there are a few who try to force you to change your QSL policy but this is another history.

 

Paul N6PSE: Tony, what would you like to tell the DX Community?

Antonio-EA5RM: After having organized so many DXpeditions I have learned that if you have a dream, and you work hard, with perseverance and a vision, you can reach your goals.

 

Paul N6PSE: Tony, thank you for sharing your views with us. The DX Community should be very grateful for all of the operations your team has done for us. You and your team has become good friends with my team and I am forever thankful for our partnership to do ST0R.

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