Arrival in San Pedro:
On the following day, I met all the other competitors when we attended the briefing and registration for the race. There was a thorough check of our equipment and gear, food and all the mandatory paperwork. All done, we were then transferred to our first base camp, where we were allocated a tent to 10 competitors. I was assigned to Camp number 6 named Copiapo, where I met some of the coolest people from all walks of life, who were to share my pain and agony for the next 7 days!!
I have done a little search on most of them (he!! he!!) before my arrival and was now trying to put their faces to the names : Chris (tall American ex-NYPD cop now working as a private investigator - definitely not someone you want to mess with ;-P. Running for a charity for Autism), Innogen (British competitor working in London. Running her second 4 Deserts event after Gobi in 2011), Kate (an Australian residing in UK, did Sahara in 2010), Matt (American race director running for a charity for Parkinson's), Joel (American anesthetist. First 4 Deserts attempt), Massimo (Italian analyst working in some complicated financial industry in London ;-P. First 4 Deserts attempt), Brett (Canadian who owns a furniture installation company. Completed Gobi in 2010) and Nick (American executive director of a charity. His 6th time at a Racing the Planet/4 Deserts event !!).
We all settled down, got to now one another and mingled with others from neighbouring tents. Our first base camp was situated at 3,300m above sea level and I was already suffering from mild altitude sickness. The atmosphere around the camp was great as the evening approached. All of us gathered around the fire to keep warm and it was just an amazing experience to see so many people from all over the world at one place. Different languages flew through effortlessly among the competitors and raucous laughter echoed through the vast desert.
The view of the desert from the camp was breathtaking. Here are some of the photos taken by the official photographer, Scott Manthey :
|Our Camping ground for the first night|
|Atacama : The Driest Place in the World, chose to rain on us just before our arrival!!|
|There were even llamas there to entertain us :-)|
|As the night drew near, temperature in the desert began to drop and we all stayed around the fire to keep warm!|