Sunday, July 15, 2007

“Numero Uno”

That’s what Jorge insists he be called now, after his second race victory this year.

Well, to be accurate, he didn’t actually win this race, but he was the first male azungu, or foreigner, to finish the race. The race in question is the annual Mt. Mulanje Porters’ Race. The Porters’ race course is a 22 kilometer circuit up, over, and down Mt. Mulanje, which, as you’ll know from a previous post, is the 3rd-highest peak in Africa. This race is not for the faint of heart, as it involves steep climbs and dangerously slick rock-strewn paths. The competition is made up mostly of mountain porters and guides, who are used to climbing the mountain several days a week.

Naturally, Jorge wasted no time on trivial things like training. Preparation is for the weak-minded.

But I knew he would do well. Jorge isn’t the fastest guy on the block, but there’s no one who can beat him for endurance. The more tortuous and masochistic the task, the better Jorge does. Half-marathon? He’ll do alright. But a half-marathon in searing heat and no water? Oh, he’ll toast everyone.

So instead of Numero Uno, I think I’ll resurrect his mother’s old nickname for him: Old Camel. (Of course, he got the nickname for the way he smelled, but camels have many other admirable attributes. So the smell can be overlooked.)