Saturday March 6, 2010
It’s all fun and games until the airline loses your luggage. Then before you know it, the only shirt you have to wear is borrowed, ugly and two sizes too big. For Norma, lost luggage is an almost comical addition to an already challenging trip. More character building I guess although I think she has enough character already. She would rather have her bags.
The worst part is the loss of food. She will find clothes and shoes but food for a race like this is not so easy. There is no REI down the street to go and resupply. She will have to make due with whatever she can find locally. Racers normally use energy bars, protein powders and freeze dried food. Not much chance of finding those items at the local Atacama Desert store. In fact, the odds are exactly zero. But she will make due. She will probably just run down some wild desert chickens and cook them over an open fire. Then squeeze some some juice from a prickly cactus. If she would just pretend to be helpless for a bit, she would have tons of offers of help. After all, most of the racers are guys. But that won’t happen. She will do for herself and find a way to get through it on her own. No matter what, she will make it to the start line ready to run.
I did get to speak to her very late last night. She had arrived at her hotel in Salta and was going to get some sleep. Understandably she was tired but seemed in good spirits. She had just gotten word that there was an outside chance that her bags might arrive in Calama, a city about 3 hours away from the race start. If this happens, then she will have to catch a bus and go retrieve the bags herself. This would mean another 6 hours of travel but after almost 60 hours already, why not? It would still be best to have her own gear and food. If I had to guess though, I would not count on the bags arriving. It is just the way it seems to work. I once lost 3 bags in Africa and they showed up at my house in North Carolina 2 months later. Fingers crossed though.
She slept on the floor of a couple of airports during her trip and was happy to have a shower and a bed, if only for a few hours. Early in the morning she would be leaving with several other racers for San Pedro de Atacama, the headquarters for the race. The drive would be 14 hours. Apparently nothing is close to anything else in the desert, or at least that’s how it feels when you are out there. A cameraman named Mario has joined Norma and will be documenting her journey to and through the desert. If the first few days are any indication then this documentary will be highly entertaining.
The race starts Monday.