I had hoped to spice up this post with a few nice photos, but I don't know where my damn camera absconded to. The upshot is that you won't be tempted to give up your job and take the first flight to Puerto Rico on Monday morning. (I hope that the camera slipped out of my pocket while the assistant race director four-wheeled with me in his Tacoma at the race site—if not, big bummer.)
Last week's stay in San Juan had given me a taste of the natural beauty of this island, but being here on the west coast, in Rincon, is a true eye opener. The bougainvilleas, palm trees, golden beaches, pretty houses, and the beautifully deep-blue sea are just so spectacular! The area is much more rural in nature than what one sees around San Juan. The pace is slower, and the people are even friendlier, it seems.
Over the past two months I had started to worry about this race because, after initial contacts back in early January, there was zero communication. I did not receive the required Technical Guide (which explains all the nitty gritty details of an event and is used by the chief commissaire to assess the race), and e-mails were not answered. I started to fear the worst. But, as it turned out, all these communication problems were caused by the race director's imminent move to Peru—something that is going to happen within two days of the conclusion of this race.
I was picked up by the assistant race director, Jorge, since RD Doel was on a plane coming back from Peru. To make a long story short: I have been received with open arms and have been given all the support I can ask for. The course is in good shape, the various members of the local team are workhorses, and the Puerto Rican commissaires whom I met today seem to know their stuff and are eager to work.
Rincon is a surfers' mecca, and the number of hippie-era VW buses (no, not Westfalias but the original ones) is astonishing. This is the time of year when whales pass close by the island, and Rincon celebrates a whale festival—right next to the race venue! So there will be extra spectators, for the awards we will use the stage that has been erected for the salsa band (we went to a concert last night—hot, hot, HOT!), and the title sponsor for both shindigs is the same: Medalla Light, the beer company.
It'd be perfect ... if we had racers! Now, we do have some, but 19 Elite Men for a Class 1 cross-country race on the international calendar is less than anemic. Women: Eight! Add to that a handful of Junior Men and two Junior Women, and we still don't reach 40 for the UCI race. Please, don't even think about the costs involved in bringing me out here! Or the six national commissaires. So, if we screw up the results tomorrow, we better find a new profession.
My knowledge of Spanish once again is coming in handy since an overwhelming number of the staff speak no English. It would be so odd not to be able to communicate with them! I really don't know how English-only referees travel to some of these exotic locales without having any local language skills at all.
Since it is late and I have to get up fairly early I'll finish things for tonight. I hope that the camera will turn up tomorrow so that I can add a bit of color to my words. And if that fails, I can add a bit of spice to my account by telling you about the man who suddenly stood in my room yesterday morning while I was, well, in my natural state....
Please come back for more.