10th October 2015 by emmadurnford

10th October 2015

What a brilliant day (after yesterday evenings disappointment). By sheer chance when going to collect our laundry, we came across the closing stages of one of the worlds most extreme ultra marathons of 255 kms (155 miles) though the Atacama Desert. We joined crowds of people in cheering on the runners as they passed the finish line onto Plaza Armas where lines of flags and a band played them in. In particular it was great to see a lot of British people completing the race and unbelievably a chap called Martin turned out to live just a few miles away from where we do and runs the Bushy Park run every Saturday - it really is a small world. I even managed to squeeze a press story out of the event - link below.

Afterwards I enjoyed half an hour pottering and shopping at the local craft market. I bought alpaca socks, hats, necklaces and even knitted llamas (altitude could be effecting my decision making ability again!). As I walked out of the covered market I found Colin watching a fiesta coming out of the little adobe church in the square. We could not work out exactly what was going on but the outfits were amazing, the band was ‘enthusiastic’ and for some reason there was a man dressed up as a gorilla making rather suggestive movements - only in Chile! This photograph is of the lead ‘angel’ who has a lovely pair of feathered wings and led the unusual dancing in the town square.

Back for a leisurely lunch and then off for an ‘Atacama Picnic’ arranged by the hotel. I had wanted to go llama trekking but the woman was not running trips today so the hotel tour organiser Derek said he had an even better idea for us. We had no idea what to expect and it turned out that it was just Colin, myself, Derek and the driver. We drove for a few minutes to a local farm and homestead which was completely filled with every animal you can imagine. I was so happy to be able to go into the pen filled with llamas. They all came up for a smell and nibbled my hat and earrings. Something totally different although I have to say that I absolutely stank of llama when we came back and despite showering and hanging my jacket outside I can still smell them! After petting a lot of animals we turned a corner and in the shade of a fig tree there was a little table set up with drinks, snacks and the old lady that owns the farm had made us a quinoa cake - Colin had 3 slices!! It was an amazing experience... I can still smell it.

Images of the Atacama Crossing ultra marathon - http://www.demotix.com/news/8762295/finish-line-atacama-crossing-san-pedro-de-atacama-chile#media-8762044

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