|Una cerveza Bavaria Michelada|
When I woke up on Friday morning, I couldn't believe what I saw: Below me lies a deep, verdant valley with coffee plantations as far as the eye can see. A river runs from the distant ridges, and tiny houses cling to the hill sides. It's almost like a painting. My huge window opens into the air, as the Sanchiri is built as a mirador right on the slope that drops away precipitously.
|Another room with a view!|
After breakfast in the hotel of this eco-hotel Chalito picked me up to take me to the race site. It's only two kilometers away, but it's a harrowing, steep drive toward the bottom of the valley. Waiting for me was Omar Vargas, the young race director with whom I walked the 4.4K-long course. Oh, what a course it is! Part of it leads straight through the rainforest, with lianas hanging from huge trees, boulders all mossed-over, and water running across the trail out of sheer undergrowth. Other parts lead through areas with tall grass, affording a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and the river that is being mined for gravel. Actually, this mining operation owns the entire area, and tonight I will have dinner with the operators. The course is formidable with its technical descents, leg-breaking climbs, and continuous pounding of the arms thanks to rocks galore.
|Prelude to the breakfast in the Sanchiri Lodge|
This mountain bike race is ranked by the UCI as a C2 event (with C3 the lowest category), but the way the course is prepared one could think one is at a minor World Cup: Almost the entire length of the track is taped, the signage is exemplary, and the overall preparations have all been made. In our course inspection we were accompanied by Nelly Rossi, a Costa Rican commissaire with whom I had worked two years ago. She's a great addition to the crew, for sure. Another valuable person to have around is Francisco Chacon, the Technical Director of the federation; he and his wife, Jenny (who is also helping out), were also on my crew for the Central Amercian Marathon Championships in 2009; this time around, they are not commissaires but are working for the federation. The final holdover from two years ago is Johnnie Ching, who is my Secretary this time around. He starts out every sentence to me with, "Sir, please, ..." He's so cute. I haven't met the Finish Judge or the time keepers yet, but I am confident that we'll have a fabulous crew tomorrow.
|Andres explains the best line|
|Tarzan just swung by ...|
|Francisco, Jenny, and Nelly get ready for the racers|
Today's registration formalities were well handled by Nelly, Francisco, and Johnnie, with my giving some guidance where appropriate. I had a chance to observe riders training on the course, and I think it will be an exciting (and tough!) race tomorrow. The numbers will be fairly low, and none of the contestants are from abroad. Still, everyone is excited about the event, and so am I. We will have San Jose's most important newspaper on-site, two TV stations will shoot footage for their news programs, and a (sponsoring) radio station will provide live coverage!
|The best Secretary in the known universe: Johnnie Ching|
To end this post, I need to explain its title: Pura Vida is not only the catchy advertising slogan that Costa Rica uses to show its love for life, but it is an actual expression of "hey man, I'm doing great and life couldn't be any better" as exemplified by my greeting one of our course marshals with an innocuous "como estas?" and being beamed back, "pura vida!"
Yes, pura vida indeed!