Well, finally after about 36 hours of travelling on 3 planes, 2 buses, 1 car, and a mad but fruitless dash across Santiago airport I arrived in the dusty desert “town” of San Pedro de Atacama.
I query the classification of town, as upon arrival (after a very fast drive in mini-bus from Calama Airport) you are immediately struck by the low height of buildings in orange dusty stone, and the almost immediate change from tarmac road to well, not tarmac road as you enter. We took the first right down a bumpy road, then right again and the signs on buildings indicating behind their plain and unassuming facades were lodges and hotels. I assumed we were on the outskirts and were going to drop someone off at a outskirts sort of hotel, when we pulled up at the Takha Takha Lodge Hotel where I am based until moving to the race hotel on Friday. I chose this hotel because it stated it was right in the centre of town. It is a very small town! This street that my hotel is on the Main Street running right through the centre of the town and takes about 10-15 minutes to walk the length of it. It is a small pleasant hotel, very reminiscent to me of the lodge I stayed in, in Arusha in Tanzania when about to climb Kilimanjaro in 2006 – and doesn’t feel any the more modern. I am in a deluxe room with a private bathroom – I figured that due to the task I am about to undertake and that I am older than I was I would enjoy a bit of extra comfort – I am curious as to what makes mine deluxe next to a non-deluxe as from the outside each hut/lodge looks the same size. But it is clean, a ridiculously comfortable bed and has hot water – no more is needed.
After a much welcomed test of the water facilities I ventured out to the ‘towncentre’ – and was amazed to see a couple of blocks up that there was a North Face shop and across the street from it a shop selling other such outdoor high tech gear. San Pedro de Atacama is definitely the tourist hotspot of the north of Chile and tourists venture here for all sorts of adventures up into the desert and the altiplano on horseback, sand surfing, bikes, organised tours, hikes – only once a year do a bunch of 100 lunatic runners attempt to run across the desert. So it is no wonder that these outdoor brands have scooped up a small niche market here.
A very pleasant steak, with exceedingly dry boiled rice and a smooth glass of merlot, accompanied by music played on Bolivian panpipes by a local all went down very well, and I returned to my snug hotel lodge for a much needed and long sleep.
I have met and spotted a few more desert runners. 2 Canadians, and Irish girl, and have definitely spied a few walking up and down the high street!
So, in order for you folks to follow the race from Sunday, and to send me an email in the desert you will need to go to the 4Deserts website:
There under the Atacama Crossing 2017, you should find the links to SEND AN EMAIL, to a runner, or you find my name and the link should be there – so you either send an email, or leave a message on the race blog that I will be hopefully posting each day (a specific race blog assigned to each runner) – I will also be emailing my brother who will hopefully post my blog entries here on these pages for you to follow…
Any message you are able to send me will be gratefully received by me, it is always a massive boost to morale and motivation to read whatever you have to say.
Right – I am off now to find a cafe that sells real coffee and not Nescafé (a common problem in Chile apparently).