An Irreverent Account From Behind the Scenes of the Great River Amazon Raft Race
Mike Collis and I meet twice a day, 6 days a week, except when I am traveling. We nearly always discuss and plan our pet projects, The Great River Amazon Raft Race, The Amazon Golf Course, how we can best promote our favorite city, Iquitos Peru, while we enjoy our lives. Oh my gosh, the ideas we have kicked around. This article is a series of short sketches, some humorous, some sad, some stupid, National Inquirer style reporting with gossip, and rumor mixed with daydreams and mistakes. If you are not interested in one paragraph, skip to the next, it will be a completely different subject.
We made a mistake not publicizing Prince William’s girlfriend Kate Middleton joining the Sisterhood for their rafting the Amazon charity promotion. We were sworn to secrecy, told if the press got wind of Kate coming it would ruin her chances. Kate missed the boat anyway because the Royal council considered the Great River Amazon Raft Race too dangerous. We could have gotten great press coverage announcing Ms. Middleton would participate.
The Dog Paddlers started the third day of the raft race as Canadian royalty wearing tiaras.
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Congratulations to David Kelly, West Hansen, Carter Johnson, and Mike Scales, of Team Easy Living Paddle Club for smashing the record time while winning the Great River Amazon Raft Race 2008. These guys are serious athletes. They believed they could win, they planned to win, they came to win, and they won.
Easy Living did not just show up in Iquitos blindfolded, with one arm tied behind their backs. Before leaving the States they built a half size scale model of their unique raft design. They arrived in Iquitos a few days early, hired a speed boat to Nauta, and marked out the route with their GPS unit so they always knew where they were in relationship to the end of each days finish line.
They are proven long distance endurance paddlers, competing in the 340 mile Missouri River Race from Kansas City to St. Louis. David Kelly held the single person canoe world record in the Yukon River Race over 300 miles, paddling straight through for 36 hours.
I exclaimed loud and often that no international team, even olympic trained athletes, would ever beat the Padre Cocha cousins. I stand corrected. I told David that I expected their record time to stand for years. He replied, “Wait till next year.” I could be wrong again.
The mystery of the missing balsa logs
We solved one mystery. We could not understand how we could have been 160 balsa logs short on the beach at Nauta. The logs were counted several times in Iquitos and there were extra logs. The person hired to truck the logs to Nauta bid to get the job. He had two trucks. All the logs would not fit in his two trucks, so he delivered the logs he could carry, got paid, and did not tell anyone that he left a pile of logs back in Iquitos.
Spreading Melvin’s ashes on the Amazon River
Mike had a good friend from his home town in England that visited in Iquitos three times. Melvin Lawrance loved Iquitos. He invested in the Amazon Golf Club, helped disadvantaged children, and was a good man. Just before he died he asked to to be cremated and have his ashes spread over the Amazon River during the Great River Amazon Raft Race. A mutual friend, Dennis Chiles brought Melvin’s ashes from England and they now enrich the magnificent Amazon River, after a quiet ceremony on board the support boat during the race.
It would have made a better story if one of them had drowned
A raft was swept under a fallen tree. All four rafters were desperately clinging on to the branches of the tree for dear life when my crew from Dawn on the Amazon rescued them. Later a reporter was overheard to say, it would have been a better story if one of them had drowned.
The Arco Iris Chicas, from the Netherlands, raised $5,000 from sponsors to donate to Arco Iris, the Iquitos Orphanage. They hope to enter 5 teams next year.
One of the best parts of the Great River Amazon Raft Race is meeting so many interesting adventurous people. One of the worst part of the race is not getting to know them well enough before it is over. I was really looking forward to getting to know Alan La Rue better, from Expat Peru in Lima. We shook hands and said hi, and smiled a few times but that was about all we had time for. Alan, know I am thinking about you. You to Robbie…Anita, Stevie, David, and all the rest.
Did you know Stevie Tate-Bauer starred as Galadriel, in the musical version of The Lord of the Rings?
Robbie Dowling, the Dub in the Tub, donated $4,000 to help one desperately sick jungle girl, and is raising more funds now. Marc Plumet is administering the funds, and helping take care of the girl.
Sisterhood shocks Iquitos skinny dipping
The Sisterhood shocked Iquitos skinny dipping in the pool at the El Dorado Plaza.
Congratulations to La Noche, by far the fastest womens team, and to Chaos, Arco Iris, Red Healers and the Sisterhood for setting a good example for the women of this patriarchal society.
Pamela spoils the party
Pamela, from the Yellow Rose of Texas, called the police to spoil the post raft race party at the Amazon Cafe on Sept 21st. It can now be revealed that the YRT serves beer all night in the back room in spite of the midnight curfew on Sunday night beer sales in Iquitos. How do they do that right under the nose of the police without getting busted. Hummmm…they do that every night. Hum?
The Ottawa Police team are big strong men. They told me participating in the raft race was the hardest three days of all of their lives.
Other teams were overheard grumbling that it was harder than they expected. Huh? Harder than “The Faint of Heart Need Not Apply”?
The beer and water in the support boat was air temperature. I was told the beer tasted like piss. I am surprised we did not sell more of our cold beer?
We were tied up at Tamshiyacu late afternoon on the second day of the race when one of the excursion boats from JungleX came past slow with a boat load of friendly people. We waved and talked back and forth as they took photos of Dawn on the Amazon III. They joked they were out of beer. I held up a bottle of beer and invited them to come aboard. After much discussion and possibly a near mutiny the excursion boat pulled along side and we had the pleasure of meeting a couple of dozen nice folks sharing cold beer in the tropical heat of the Amazon River and rainforest. It was a pleasant and unusual experience.
It is easy to host the Great River Amazon Raft Race
It is easy to put this race on, no problems, no troubles. This is eeeaaassssyy.
Mike is hoping a giant centipede comes into Mad Mick’s Trading Post looking for 40 pairs of gardening gloves, 40 pairs of extra boots, 20 hammocks, and 10 machetes. That is alright, maybe he will sell them someday. Maybe next year at the race.
Marmelita has 53 commemorative raft race T-shirts left unsold. That is alright, maybe she will sell them someday. Maybe next year at the race.
I want to thank John Fenner, Ann Murrell, and Steve Patarozzi for helping buy the fuel for Dawn on the Amazon III and the two support boats. Thanks to Steve and Heidie, Cammy, Jeanie, and the rest of the Portland bunch that stayed at our Jungle Cabin after the race. Thanks to Rudy and Jeremy for being good guys.
Mike and I are retiring from the Great River Amazon Raft Race. We are able to retire because we are leaving the race in the capable hands of Carsten Korch, the editor of Living in Peru, the best man to elevate the race to the next level. Mike will help as a consultant. I will blog about the great raft race, but the only way Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises will participate is if a group charters my boats.
Wave goodbye Mike
I am switching over to work on three new pet projects. You can find out about my new projects here on the Captain’s Blog in the near future. Thanks for reading this far. I hope you will check back with me from time to time.
An Irreverent Account From Behind the Scenes of the Great River Amazon Raft Race
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