This article is reprinted with permission from the Twin Cities DX Association (TCDXA) newsletter The Gray Line Report.
With the excitement of a Guatemalan adventure still fresh in our minds, the four of us (Ron, ØAT; Vlad, NØSTL; Dave, WØFLS and me, WØOR) who put TGØAA on the air in November 2003 for the CQWW CW contest began talking about doing it all over again in '04. Even before we disembarked from the plane that brought us back home to Minnesota, we had all pretty much agreed on several points: a good team had been assembled, everybody had a lot of fun, and despite the odds, we had racked up a score we could be proud of. We wanted to experience the high of being the sought-after signal again.
But like any DXers or contesters worth their salt, each of us couldn't help thinking that there were things we could have improved upon. Couldn't we have grabbed more mults? Could we have found a way to put up a better antenna for 160? Shouldn't we have done better planning for an internet connection? So the conversation went. The bottom line is that we were all thinking about the challenge implied by the proverbial, "wait 'til next year."
So what about next year? Did we want to go back to TG? (see the story in the March 2004 edition of the TCDXA newsletter The Gray Line Report at www.tcdxa.org) That probably could have been arranged. We had made friends and connections with several local hams in the Guatemala City club. While the 2003 QTH offered several advantages, living conditions were primitive. Could we find an improved location, where adequate power to drive a linear and an internet connection would be available?
As we discussed it, however, we arrived at a consensus to try something different, to go somewhere new. One of the things we noted was that the one country in South America that almost never seemed to be represented in CW contests was Bolivia. There are plenty of LUs and PYs and a sprinkling of ops from most other places in SA. But few, if any, CPs were to be found below the phone bands. So, we started seriously thinking about Bolivia as a destination.
The Plan Comes Together
During one of the early 2004 winter meetings of the TCDXA, we put together a PowerPoint presentation for a club program. When the question of whether we would do it again next year came up, we mentioned Bolivia as one option. Did anyone have connections there? As good luck would have it, TCDXA member Bob Garwood, WØBV, did indeed have a connection. For many years, Bob has run schedules with Ray Rising (formerly KØLWJ, now K4LWJ), who is currently licensed in Bolivia as CP6RR.
Ray attracted international attention in the 1990s when he was abducted by guerillas in Colombia and held for ransom for 810 days before being released. Today, he works on behalf of a worldwide mission headquartered in North Carolina, whose goal it is to provide the means to communicate with various indigenous peoples, especially in Third World countries. This group has translated the Bible into a number of obscure languages, bringing its teachings to people who have heretofore had little contact with outsiders. In Bolivia, they also broadcast programs in some of the Indian languages. Ray maintains the broadcast stations.
Knowing of our interest in Bolivia, Bob put us in touch with Ray. As a ham headquartered in the Santa Cruz area, Ray was able to set up contacts with members of the local radio club. In May 2004, we received an invitation to use their club facilities as our QTH for the contest. For the next several months, via e-mail and Sunday afternoon skeds, we formulated our plans to travel to Bolivia, and to operate in the CQWW test. Unfortunately, one of last year's crew, Dave Raymond, WØFLS, was unable to join the team for '04. His employer (Motorola) assigned him to the Twin Cities for several years, but during the year, he was reassigned to another project in Washington, DC, and the new assignment prevented him from doing a repeat performance. We knew a full blown operation would be difficult with only three, so we began trying to recruit a fourth member. The good news is that Tom Lutz, WØZR, decided he would like to go. Tom has not been a contester, and he seemed a little worried that he might be a drag on the scoring. As it turned out, he was absolutely equal to the task. A member of FOC, Tom is an outstanding CW man. It was not much of a leap for him to catch on the DX contesting.
For the complete version of this article as published in the NCJ, view the pdf version. In addition, a complete version of the companion article, CP6CW 2004 CQWW DX CW - Results and Reflections is also available as a pdf version.