Friday, September 7, 2007

We have a trainer!

Yay, paddles arrived safe and sound this evening!! Whoopee!! And I didn´t have a brain aneurism worrying about them!! =P

One thing that I forgot to mention earlier... it is mandatory to wear lifejackets during the race. To the extent that we could be disqualified if we´re seen without them. So, you might want to bring your own! Lili, I checked to see if your waist belt inflatable PFD would be okay, and they said yes as long as we show it to the officials so that they understand what it is and how it works.

As for food during the race, I´ll be checking into that...

Good news! We´ve met a really good guy who works on the rivers in the jungle who will be training us for the race! We´re going to train with him from Monday to Friday (the 10th to the 14th) everday, and probably sleep out in the jungle between sessions. Intense! He knows the water really well, and he knows the tribes in the area so we´ll be traveling around and paddling in different areas, borrowing different types of boats. We´ll also be practicing raft construction.

He also wants time to work with you guys, which I think would be a great idea. Lili, if you can arrive late on the 16th or early on the 17th, you´ll have the 17th and the 18th to train on the water with us (if you want to). Julie, you´re arriving early on the 18th, so we´ll have one day with you on the water. We´re paying him about $10 a day per person (plus a nice tip, I expect). He´s a really nice person, very patient and respectful of the river and jungle, and he wants us to do well.

As for other details... I forgot to bring a small duffel bag for my stuff for during the race, so I´ll be buying one. You guys might want to make sure that your carry-on bags are big enough to be used for during the race.

Also, my Canadian flag is wilting and looking quite pathetic. Julie, if you have one lying around could you bring it? If not, we can have one painted.

As for souvenir paddles, I had to make an executive decision today because they´ll be made by our trainer and he has to start work on them tomorrow if he´s going to have time to train us next week. They´ll be about 1m long (smaller than normal, but easier to put in luggage), and he´s going to decorate them in the style of one of the local tribes, together with the name of the competition. They cost 45 soles each ($15), I already paid in advance. Hopefully this works for you guys - if not, I can sell them to other people. I had to get them custom made because it turns out that the paddles that are supplied for the racers are just borrowed from a local club and we can´t just take them home with us.

Anyway, I know that you´re both super busy with other paddling events and that other stuff called "life", but I´m super excited about all this stuff so I´m going to keep blasting you with emails. Let me know what you think about all this stuff! We´re going to try to have everything assembled by the time you get here so that we can spend precious time on the water together practicing.

Race rules

So, we talked to Mike Collis today... here´s the deal:

We´ll be going up to Nauta on the 19th, after a ceremony and speeches.

We´re not allowed to do any work on the raft until the 20th, when all teams will be provided with materials and are given 3 hours to construct the rafts. That means 8 5-foot balsa logs of approx 8 inches in diameter, woven plant rope to tie them together, nails and twine for the foreigners who don´t trust the plant rope (but the locals say that nails are useless in balsa, they just fall out). We are allowed to treat the wood with paint or varnish the logs, but it has to be done within those 3 hours.

Each foreign team will be provided with local workers to help them.

What we put on board it up to us - we can take anything, so long as it doesn`t give us more propulsion (ie no sails). We can make whatever seating we want, take any kind of cooler or container that we choose to put water and stuff in.

We all need to have gloves, sun hats (as large as possible), a machete on board. We can buy foam here for the seat pads, but I packed some with me so if my luggage ever arrives we shouldn´t need to buy any. (Continental gave my bags to Lan Peru once they arrived in Lima, and now Lan Peru has lost them. Grrrr!!!!) Don`t forget to pack as much of the necessary race stuff in carry-on luggage as possible, in case they lose your luggage!!!!!!!!

Martin and I are going to go to the local village where all of last year´s top teams came from. We met somebody who says that they will probably be friendly with us and might let us borrow their rafts and show us how to make good rafts. Hopefully that will work out!

Lili, just let me know when your flight will arrive and I will meet you at the airport. If things go sideways and you get there on an earlier or later flight for some reason, we´re staying at the Hospedaje San Cristobal on calle Prospero, a few blocks west of the Plaza de Armas. A motortaxi costs about 5 soles.

Your 15L water container may come in handy if we decide to carry our own water on the support boat, but we can buy 5L water bottles, so it probably isn´t worth the hassle to bring.

There is a cheap little hotel very close to the airport... I forget the name, but if either of you have a long layover and want to sleep in a bed, it`s only 20 soles for the room and 1 sol each way for a taxi (equals about $7). I will send you the address sometime soon, I don´t have the info with me at the moment.

It´s really hard to get small change here in Iquitos,and almost everything you buy is with small change, so try to withdraw soles from the ATM at the airport and use the 100 sole bills to buy small things at the airport where they can break the bills and give you change.

I had a good time poking through the gift shops at the airport... it`s interesting to be able to compare prices and quality with the stuff that´s sold in the towns.

In Iquitos

So, I´m in Iquitos! Trying to figure out ths keyboard is a challenge... =P

I got in last night, exhausted and starving after 48 hours of travel. Martin met me at the airport and had already found a hotel, which was nice. The cost of our hotel is 15 soles per night, for two beds. (10 soles for 1 person). That equals about $2.50 per person, which is sweet since we´ll be here for a while. It´s low-end but good enough, with a toilet and shower in the room, run by nice people.

This morning we went to the zoo. I´m not normally a huge zoo fan, but they have a really great one here with 100kg amazon fish, leopards, pumas, all types of monkeys, tapirs, coatis, pink river dolphins, anacondas, etc. and they´re all quite well kept in large cages on a jugle reserve. There was also a guy there charging 50 cents to pose with his large boa constrictors (we played with them for a long time), a "Tarzan vine" swing set up so that people can swing out over the jungle, and a beach where you can swim in a lake. If there´s time, we should go there together.

It´s warm and muggy here, but it´s totally bearable. Not scorching, just hot. I haven´t seen a mosquito since I arrived, even at the zoo. They say that the malaria risk here is minimal.

I´ll be trudging back out to the airport this afternoon to pick up my luggage, which was sent to Fort Lauderdale intead of Lima (wtf??? retards). So yeah, I´ve been wearing the same clothes since Monday and I´m really looking forward to brushing my teeth. My fingers and toes are all crossed, hoping that the paddles have arrived without being broken.... >=0

Later today I´ll be trying to track down Mike Collis to figure out how much work we can do on the raft in advance. Got to see what the rules are... whether we´re allowed to varnish it, etc. There´s an art market where it will be easy to find someone to paint the wooden paddles that we´re given for the race, so I´ll see if I can get the paddles before we arrive in Nauta for the race so that there´s time for them to be painted.

Gatorade is sold here, probably Powerade too. I haven´t seen any powdered stuff, but haven´t been through the big grocery store yet. Bottled water we can buy here easily. If you guys have any questions about the area, let me know. Internet service is good here, so I´ll be in touch regularly.

Iquitos is a nice place, busy but friendly. Julie, I can´t wait to see the expressions on your face during your first few days here! We´re going to have an awesome time.

Julie, have fun in Catalina!!! Lili, good luck with your marathon!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Raft Design Questions - Lili

1. Question: Why do they dry the logs before making the rafts?
The Kontiki raft I saw in the Norweigeian museum specifically
said that their first version sank because the logs were dry, so
on the second version they used fresh (i.e. still moist) logs,
and made sure they stayed moist while they made the raft.

2. Would it make sense to put like a "V" shape of logs up front
so that it cuts through the water and clears away any debris?
Haven't seen any Peru pictures like that, don't know if it's not

3. The pictures on the blogs - wow, I didn't realize you would
be sitting more like IN the river if you don't have seats.
Dale's raft has nice wooden benches as seen in the picture of
Day two. I agree, let's each carry a roll of foam and pad our
seats, may make a world of difference.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Julie and Robyn meeting 26May

Here is a list of some of the stuff that Julie and I talked about last night.

Should we make a website? Would it be useful for keeping all our information together in one place? Will it be simple? -- YES. If everybody could sign up to be contributers and make blog posts instead of sending out reams of emails, it will probably be a lot easier to manage all the info and keep track of everything.

Patagonia stuff: Lori has asked us if we would like any Patagonia gear besides the team shirts. Let's leave this on an individual basis - if you want a hat, shorts, etc, please feel free to let me (Robyn) know when we're placing the shirt orders. Patagonia stuff is on sale at other stores (ex MEC) if you want to try things on first to see what size you need.

Julie will bring her paddle, a paddle for Martin, my paddle, and maybe Lili's paddle down together in her paddle bag. Lili, if you are the first to return to Canada, would you mind taking the paddle bag back with you so that we don't have to take the paddles to Machu Picchu??

Martin, please bring a raft paddle that we can use to steer with.

Taking our own PFDs will not be good for the PFDs, as they don't deal well with being squashed in backpacks for extended periods of time. I wrecked a Lotus PFD once doing that. So, bring your own if you like but we can rent crappy ones for the race that should be good enough.

Lili's question - will we be able to buy 48L of water in Iquitos? Hmm, good question. Martin and I can scope it out when we get there ahead of time and let Lili and Julie know if they should bring some from Lima. Julie will also bring her water filter so that we can filter tap water in Iquitos if we need to.

Team shirts: see separate post
Team name: see separate post
Raft design: see separate post

How are we going to store our gear during the race? Do we feel comfortable leaving our passports etc on the Mother Duck while we're racing or should we bring them on the raft? I'll send out some emails to try to find more info about this.

We should each bring mosquito netting to hang over our hammocks at night. We might also want to bring "sleep sheets" to sleep in (just a bed sheet sewn together) - individual preference.

Registration for the race is supposed to be opening in June. I'm leaving on the 17th for my bike trip, so if it hasn't opened before then, Julie will be in charge of registering us and pre-paying.

Team Shirts

Just to try to speed up the process, Julie and I decided that most of us would probably want to get more than one shirt. We like the lemongrass and blue (perhaps the Neptune blue?). So, why don't we say that everyone get one lemongrass and one neptune blue capilene shirt in any sleeve length that they choose (sleeveless, t-shirt, or long-sleeved) and we will have them all silk-screened with our team name and logo? Plus anything else that you like, of course. If you only want to get one shirt, get the lemongrass one. Does that sound simple enough?

I've edited the blog colours to be as similar to the lemongrass/neptune blue as I could get so that we can get a feel for the colours.

The current plan for the shirt design is to have the 4 totems (beavers, eagles) on the front of the shirt with "Canada-Alemania-Mexico" written above of them.

On the back of the shirt will be "Amazon Challenge 2007" above a picture of a raft or hammock with a tarantula, snake, monkey, and piranha on it (subject to my artistic limitations). Underneath the picture will be "Gringos Locos - Git'n 'er done Peruvian style", or whatever we decide on as a team name.

Comments? Ideas?

Raft Design

So, how do we want the raft set up?

Regulations are that it has to be made of 6 to 8 balsa logs, minimum 5m in length. Most of the raft for international crews are 6.5m long though, to give them enough buoyancy to hold our weight.

How are we going to seal the wood so that as little water as possible soaks into the logs? (they can get REALLY heavy) I'm going to email Dale to ask him what they did / saw. I think there's a method of charring them a bit over a fire. Calvin suggested taking 200lbs of chemical sealant with us... any volunteers? =P

How do we want to transport stuff on the raft? We will have things like sunscreen, cameras, water, snacks, spare paddle, and PDFs. One idea is to lash some kind of container (like a milk crate) to the middle of the raft, then attach things like sunscreen to the crate with a string long enough that anyone can grab it and use it, then toss it back in the crate. Or, we could put a bar across the middle of the raft, slightly raised, that things could be tied to/clipped to. Including the spare paddle, PFDs, and dry bags. Any other ideas? Is everybody cool with using a camel back to carry your own water, or will we need a way of securing water bottles?

I think the best way to do seating would be to simply lash a low bench to the raft and cover it with a foam pad (like a camping mat). Any other suggestions?

Lili, any other great ideas from when you saw the Contiki boat?