The last stop
We are here. San Martin de los Andes is hosting us, and another 1,500 El Cruce Columbia 2012 participants. We’d like to say the town is a hive of bright blue shirts and fleeces, and we are enjoying the lush green surroundings of the beautiful countryside in this part of the world.
But the truth is, we can’t see them so well.
Ash has descended and it feels like we are in a Buenos Aires fog. Tonight we do dances hoping for a change in wind direction. Still, it’s sunny and warm and we’re enjoying our day in the town. Not running. Here’s how we got here:
Death Ride Taxi
We nearly didn’t make it alive to the airport last night, as our taxi driver (like many, alas, in Buenos Aires) lacked basic knowledge of the road and brakes. After a couple of near death experiences and shaving quite a few pedestrians and other cars, we did surprisingly get to the Aeroparque without injuries.
As soon as we hit the bar for a pre-flight bevvie we spotted a few other runners of Cruce. Matching and personalised t-shirts, super-duper sporty watches, flourescent running shoes and that mean and lean running look: these are the hallmarks of quite a lot of the running freaks. To put into perspective, we were wearing jeans, beachy vest tops and flip-flops. You have to trick the enemy sometimes.
Late Sleep, Early Rise
After a milanesa in Neuquen bus station we boarded our rather comfy coach to San Martin. Front road seats afforded us spectacular night-time views of the rather drab Neuquen and the even worse driving of our bus driver. It was time to get some shut-eye and a few hours later, in darkness, we arrived here. Chugging with our packs to the garage, the only place open at 6am, we ensconced ourselves there with tea and coffee and the free snackettes we hadn’t eaten from the bus.
The hours ticked by and we could finally dump our stuff at the hostel and head to register for Cruce. The happening place was a local school, and both of us were amazed by the organisation of it all. Once we handed over our fit notes and paid up, we got one of the most exciting shopping lists we have ever had: our personalised t-shirts, our personalised flags, our timer chips, incredible fleeces, a huge bag full of goodies (yerba, thermos, bowl, wooden plate, base layer, thermal cup, glass, scarfy-bandana thing – ALL CRUCE PERSONALISED!) and this was finished with a photo shoot by TRU TV. We saw plenty more freaks, but what was heartening was those in wigs, normal clothes and generally messing about like us with excitement.
After a hearty lunch, we’re going to take our last shower for 3-4 days and take our packs over to the school for boarding on the trucks. Humans depart for Chile tomorrow and, luckily, we are leaving at 5.15. Yes, in the MORNING. It’s lucky because it could have been FOUR. Tonight, we have the joy of some wine tasting (nothing like last-minute preparation) and a chat by the head organiser with some rousing music and no doubt fireworks. OK, we made the last bit up. We can only hope.
So, here we are: next stop, the Andes. And we´ll see you on the other side. Guaranteed we’ll see you with weary legs and feet, disgusting smelling armpits, but huge smiles and a bucketload of memories and stories to tell you all. Thanks for all your support.
To check for our status see: www.elcrucecolumbia.com/2012/es/equipos/90
To donate to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund go to: www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/maria-pugliese/cruce
To donate to the Pelican Cancer Foundation go to: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/lauramilsom1