Sunday, July 12, 2015

Running, ALIVE!

Path between Wayuu Communities
We all have them. Maybe not often enough. But if we had them with greater frequency perhaps we would not appreciate them the way we do. You know what I’m talking about – those runs when you feel completely ALIVE!

I had one of those runs this morning in La Guajira, Columbia. The Department of La Guajira comprises the northern tip of Columbia – sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and Venezuela. It is not a friendly or inviting land – rainfall is scarce owing to the powerful rain shadow created by the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, wind is a constant, the equatorial sun strong, and rebel groups and drug traffickers largely control it. Not the likely place for a great run.

Wanting to beat the heat I departed Riohacha, a sad little coastal town (interesting in that is mentioned several times in One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera) in the early morning darkness and headed out of town with the objective of completing 50K without wilting, getting lost, or kidnapped for ransom. The stakes were higher than in a typical run.  I knew that if anything went wrong the run could quickly turn into a suffer-fest, or worse.

Fishing Boat

First I traveled along the coast, watching fishermen taking their boats out to sea at first light. Then, I crossed some coastal plains where the local Wayuu were harvesting salt. From there I moved into the desert where I followed the tracks between Wayuu communities The Wayuu live as extended families on their communally owned ancestral lands which are generally several kilometers apart to prevent mixing of their goat herds. The Wayuu in general have not migrated to towns, preferring to live on their ancestral lands relying on subsistence agriculture and raising goats. They are well know for their woven handicrafts which provide some cash income. What is notable is that is has not rained for 17 months. Life at present is very hard for the Wayuu.

Wayuu Salt Works

The light, the sounds, the intensity of the sun, the stunning landscape and my curiosity about the Wayuu people intensified my senses, gave me courage to push outside my comfort zone, and kept me intently present. I was ALIVE! Enjoy a few pictures of an amazing run.

Desert Track

Salt Flats (not quite like ours)

Grazing?? Chivo

Goat Corral

Wayuu Rancheria

Effects of the Drought