I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Spring to bring you another blizzard

The weather regresses and so do I, interrupting pictures of Chile with a more appropriate image of Antarctica. This is King George Island from the ship the day we were snowbound and couldn't fly out.

We're getting our fourth nor'easter in a month today, and celebrating spring with 6 to 8 inches of snow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Astronomy Tuesday

A Hubble closeup of the Tarantula Nebula, one of the most active star-forming regions in our galactic neighborhood.

It's in the Large Magellanic Cloud, so only visible from the Southern Hemisphere, and is so luminous that if it were as close as the Orion nebula, it would actually cast shadows. I've seen the LMC from the Australian outback and with the naked eye, it looks a lot like -- a cloud.

Credit: NASA, ESA

Sunday, March 18, 2018

And still more El Yeso

Here's a picture with some of the group walking along the road and down by the water to give a sense of the scale of this beautiful place. Plus flowers.

More of El Yeso

El Yeso

The sun came and went all day, and the color of the water in El Yeso reservoir shifted with every change in the light, going from steely blue to deep emerald and every shade in between.

After stopping for photos at this lookout, we drove along the very bumpy dirt road you can see on the right to a rocky beach on the far end, where we had a picnic.

El condor pasa

Bonus bird blogging.

Wait, where's the bird? you ask. If you look carefully just above the mountain peak to the right, you will see a small black dash that is in fact a bird in flight.

While I'd love to say that it's a condor, it probably isn't. It's much too far away to see clearly, but condors have a very distinctive shape to their wings and I think this is just an eagle or some other raptor. Still it's obviously a very large bird, since it's visible from such a distance. So if you want to pretend it's a condor, I won't argue.


Really, it was Papa-mania

The TV in the cafe, like every other TV I saw that week, was tuned to non-stop coverage of the Pope's visit.

(The chyron, in case you can't see it, asks Why isn't the Pope going to Argentina?)

Breakfast in the Andes

The restaurant -- maybe cafe is the better word -- at the rest stop. A cheese empanada was included in the tour, and it was hot off the grill and delicious.

I didn't even mind that the coffee was instant Nescafe as it was the first cup I'd had, and after a two hour drive it was manna to my jet-lagged brain. I've mentioned before that this tour had originally been scheduled for the following day, but Papa-mania had forced the tour operator to reschedule. Because Chile is inexplicably two hours ahead of New York, I'd reasoned that a tour leaving at 7:15 am would probably be more enjoyable after I'd been in the country for at least 24 hours and had time to adjust to the change.

But the Pope decided to come to town, and since the only other option was the day I was going to Valparaiso I agreed to go a day earlier.

And not surprisingly, I overslept. The front desk woke me with a phone call at 7:25, telling me that my tour guide was waiting, and I had to throw on some clothes, grab my camera and run downstairs without getting anything to eat.

So I will always remember that empanada and instant coffee as one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. I'd never had a freshly made empanada before and like most variations on the theme of stuffed dough, it was so much better that way. Plus, I was starving.

There's always a line for las mujeres

It didn't really cost five hundred dollars to pee at this rest stop near Cajon del Maipo in the high desert outside Santiago. Chile uses the dollar symbol for its currency, which takes some getting used to since the conversion rate was about 600 pesos to the dollar, making the prices look alarmingly high to an American brain. So the cost was actually 500 pesos, or a little less than one American dollar, which they also accepted.

And neither of which I had, unfortunately -- all of my dollars were back at the hotel, and the smallest bill I had was 20,000 pesos. I'd just flown in the day before, and all I'd bought was a coffee, which I had to pay for with a credit card because the cafe couldn't change 20,000 pesos either.

Fortunately the restaurant at this rest stop could, or it would have been an extremely uncomfortable trip to the cajon.

Sunday bird blogging

Apologies for the crappy photo -- noisy and not very sharp -- but it's a lovely bird who deserves to be posted anyway.

The Google tells me this is probably a rufous-collared sparrow. I saw it back in January, in the yard of the ranch where we took a rest stop on the way to Cajon del Maipo my first full day in Chile.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday reflections

A late evening summer sky in Santiago, taken from my hotel room.

This was on my first pass through the city; I was staying in the more modern section to the east, nicknamed Sanhattan for the (comparatively) large number of glassy towers. It actually reminded me more of California than Manhattan, and while I liked the older section of the city I stayed in on my return much more, if you want reflections, modern towers with hundreds of windows definitely provide them.

I like the way the reflected clouds in the building create the illusion that you're looking right through it to the sky beyond.

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