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La Palma

Tuesday, July 31st 2001

In the morning I got a coffee on Gran Via, and then headed back out to Barajas. The flight had been booked so late that I'd had to go business class, which was a whole new experience for me. I got seat A1, and sat back and enjoyed the flight.

Once we'd landed in La Palma I jumped in a taxi and headed straight for the mountain top. We passed through Santa Cruz, the island's capital, took a sharp left and then wound our way upwards. The views over the Atlantic were impressive but pretty soon I wasn't looking anywhere but straight ahead, in a futile attempt to stave off car sickness. The road was twisty but the driver was not into going slowly. We swung left, we swung right, we swung left and right, again and again and again, and I thought that I was going to throw up. I barely held it together, and when we arrived at the observatory after an hour, I staggered out and began to dread the journey back down in five days time.

It was a fantastically clear day. We had an evening spare before our telescope time started, so I went for a walk around the observatory site. At 2400m above sea level, it was cool and fresh, and the altitude was just about noticeable. The moon rose over the barren rocks of the peak, and I was looking forward to doing some proper observing.

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