The Tatacoa Desert, Colombia -
Usage of the words Desert and Colombia together in the same sentenc seems like a combination of contradictory meanings; an oxymoron along with the likes of jumbo shrimp. It is here though. 330 sq km of dry earth in an otherwise green country known as the Tatacoa Desert. I came, I saw and I left wondering why I even came and saw in the first place. One day here was more than enough to get the jist.
The night before the taxi pulled up to a house and dropped me off. There was no choice as to where I should stay because there aren’t many choices to be had in the first place. This place offered a room with a saggy bed for $7.50 so I took it. If I’m only staying in a place for one or two nights I don’t get too picky if the price is right. Going elsewhere also meant giving more money to the taxi driver which I didn’t want to do.
What was I doing here?
I didn’t really know then and I still don’t know. In the many hours I would have sitting around the next day I would realize that I had come here only because the desert is a brown patch of earth in an otherwise green landscape. An oddity; like a dog with three legs. I couldn’t not check it out. It was on my north anyway so why not.
The next morning before it got too hot I walked a half mile up the road and looked out at the dry patch of earth before me. Cactus. Shrubby bush. Surprisingly, a few trees. I began sweating just standing there and realized that I hadn’t brought any water with me. Only an idiot goes for a walk in the desert and doesn’t bring water with him. I called myself an idiot and walked back to the house.
For the rest of the day I was stuck sitting in the shade as a prisoner of the afternoon sun. It’s obviously hot here but it’s humid as well. The 100 plus degree heat combined with humidity sapped all energy leaving me motionless and lethargic. Even reading took too much effort and became a battle for the eyes which was quickly lost.
One nap wasn’t enough. I took two but could have used a third.
Once the sun went down I was free to move out of the shade. But to where? The place was literally a house in the desert with nothing around it. If I aimlessly walked around the desert in the dark I would just end up calling myself an idiot one more time and walk back to the house. Behind the house the gasoline generator kicked on to power the few light bulbs and a small TV. When I arrived I assumed there would be electricity.
I shouldn’t have assumed. Electricity came on for two hours a day after the sun went down. I think the owners could have cared less about having electricity if they didn’t need it to power their TV in order to watch their Spanish Soap Opera’s. Once the programs are over the generator shuts off and it’s candles for the rest of the night. I was faced with a choice of badly acted Spanish Soap Operas or a visit to an astronomers house for a lecture. Astronomy it was.
Photos of the Tatacoa Desert: