10 AM Tuesday 17 April
We are here in Bahia Iglesa on the foggy coast of Chile waiting for our next GPS download so we can find where our peregine roosted last night.
No information since yesterday afternoon. That signal put him around 40 miles southeast of us. He was in an area of extensive dunes SW of Copiapo. Similar to home at Putu I guess.
This morning is cool and foggy with no wind. We get all these contrasts here in the desert. Cool and foggy in the morning and then hot and sunny in the afternoons. It was over 80 F. in the high desert yesterday.
Tiny Church in Quebrada Honda
The coastal fog is called the "Camanchaca" and is just part of life here. Some desert villages even use a series of polypropylene nets that are specially designed to catch the dew from this fog. They apparently produce substantial amounts fresh water for the towns. You can see these net structures strung up high on the mountaintops that rise straight up from the coastal terrace.
La Silla Observatory Atop Peak in Distance
We drove past the world famous La Silla Observatory (European Southern Observatory) in the desert north of La Serena yesterday. I had always wanted to visit the site (first time ever for me) but after a long drive in, we were told that it was closed to visitors except on Saturdays. Rats. I have wanted to go up there for over 20 years.
ESO Observatory Buildings In Distance
The ESO has their own small airstrip for visiting scientists and what looks like their own little vineyard in the valley. Leave it to the Europeans.
The telescope site presumably has the highest number of clear days (and nights) anywhere in the world. I can believe it. As many of you already know, there are weather stations here in the Atacama that have never recorded rainfall. The city of Antofagasta is reported to have an average of 1 mm of rain per year.
We just entered what I consider to be the true desert yesterday. No vegetation, no birdlife for miles.
And the geology is just fantastic with gorgeous colored rocks of every color, brown, beige, purple, black, red, and even green all surrounded by the tan desert. This is simply one of my favorite spots on earth and has been ever since I first came through here in the 1980's with Christian Gonzales. It is totally unique.
And when you get away from the highway, it is absolutley dead quiet. So very rare to find that these days.