Friday, 24 February 2012

Me, the Rainmaker :-)

I sauntered into our living room to find my wife looking at the Official Competitor’s List in despair. She turned around and said “your bib number is no longer 88, Love. It’s now 86!!” I roared with laughter at the cause of her despair. You see, for the past few weeks, she has noticed my bib number changing periodically from the initial 99 to 91. Over dinner one day, she mentioned how nice it would be if my bib number is 88, for in her Chinese culture, the number symbolises not only good fortune but also very good luck! She was ecstatic for a day, I think, when I reached 88. Now I see that the auspicious number has gone to my tent mate, Massimo Passamonti. What a lucky guy! 

Anyway, by now, most of the food, equipment and gear which I have ordered have arrived and I intend to pack everything into my backpack and bring them as a carry-on luggage on the plane to avoid the stress of having them not arriving with me when I finally land in Calama. As advised by the organiser, I have decided to carry my food in their original packaging due to Chile’s strict regulations on bringing in food to the country. Once in Chile, I intend to transfer them into Ziploc bags to save space and maybe a little weight. I am hazarding a guess that I will be able to pack everything in a more compact manner once I remove the bulky packaging of some of the stuffs, especially those of the freeze dried food. I have done some experiment and found that they rehydrate quite well even in Ziploc bags. So, I think that is what I will do. I can see that trying to pack everything into my backpack will be a nightmare. Even the food alone is taking up so much space already. I sorted out my food on a daily basis and they look like this :

After packing them into individual bags rationed for daily consumption, they look like this : With the transferring into smaller and more compact packages once in Chile, I reckon I will be able to squeeze everything into my daily airlock bags. Crossing my fingers for that!! After having sorted out the food, I moved on to sorting out my mandatory equipment and suggested gear. I will be using the OMM Classic Marathon 25L and here is a photo of all my essentials : 

Weather wise, the Big Freeze of the UK has been replaced by the Ferocious Gale and Slapping Rain at the beginning of the week. Due to that, I did my training on the treadmill yesterday with my 8kg backpack, complete with my sunglasses and Sahara cap!! Thank goodness nobody was at the gym when I was there because I am quite certain I would have given them a big shock with my weird ‘desert appearance’. I was really excited with the prospect of being in the dry and hot Atacama until the organiser's devastating email arrived today, bearing the news that the Driest Place on Earth is now experiencing unheard of amount of rain!! I am very certain this phenomenon is happening because I am going there!! Yes, I have been known as a Rainmaker among my friends for as long as I can remember. They have often accused me of bringing rain with me wherever I go, even to places where rain was to be the least expected for. 

But seriously, the high spirits which has been building up in me steadily for the past few days really took a deep dive at this unexpected news. To be honest, I have looked at the weather forecast weeks ago before the arrival of the email, where rain was forecasted during some days of the Race. I took that forecast not only very lightly, but highly suspiciously. I remember telling myself then, that the forecast cannot be right. After hundreds of years of no rain, it cannot be possible that rain will finally arrive during the time I will be there, surely? 

I can imagine how my friends will be rolling on the floor with laughter once I tell them about this impending 'Rain in Atacama'. I really have to brace myself for all my future meetings with them because I am quite sure that with this latest episode, the crown of the Rainmaker which has been bestowed to me will most certainly stay put on my head for many years to come and my unenviable ability to bring rain will be discussed, repeated and laughed at incessantly. Sigh!!! Why? Why? Why? As if I do not suffer enough of rain already in the UK!! To rub salt to my wound, UK is, by the way, currently experiencing some very pleasant Spring-like, sunny weather with temperatures rising to double digits, which is again, quite unexpected for this time of the year!! 

I just hope that all that has happened has nothing to do with me not carrying the number 88 bib !!

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