Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Monday 28th December
The observatory tour was good fun last night. The moon's fairly close to full and is incredibly bright so quite a lot was masked by its light. Even so we were lucky to be in a small group and so got plenty of time on the five telescopes. Even if it was amateur it's considerably more than either of us has used before, we saw nebulae, globular & open clusters of stars and also red & blue stars. Amusement was provided by the owner who was obviously far more into the kit than the astronomy.
We spent last night at a small hostel run by a very nice German lady - the only chance Olly has had to use language skills. The resident dog was ridiculously fluffy.
This morning we headed up into the Elqui Valley, firstly to a tiny vineyard Cavas del Valle (annual production 25,000 bottles) where we were shown around by the owner followed by the obligatory tasting. Their red (Sryah Gran Reserva) was rather tasty so we decided to get a bottle for later consumption. Sorry Christopher - I don't think it's going to make it home...
Afterwards we headed further up the valley to a Piscoe distillery, and then on to lunch.
In the afternoon we headed north, we're now about 800km north of Santiago in Copiapo, finally into the Atacama desert. On the way there was a convoy of lorries with big CATERPILLAR mining trucks on board. Since we had to pull over photos were obviously in order! Sunset was quite beautiful, even though only glimpsed from the car. Another small guesthouse for tonight, then we'll be headed further north into the great dryness tomorrow. Reading about it today there are some weather stations on the coast that have never recorded any rainfall.