La Silla, San Pedro, Iquique, Arica and Tacna
Santiago … La Silla … Rotation … Control room … Still trailing … Strange Christmas … On the beach … Vicuña … Atacama cycling … Dessication … El Tatio … Iquique … El Morro … Tacna … Poconchile cemetary … Lago Chungará … La Silla alternative view … Plaza de Armas
My first trip to South America was a long, epic voyage, which I'd planned for years and that will probably always be my greatest travel experience. So in a way I was wary about going back a second time. It could never match up to the times I'd had before.
I was going back for work. We had some time on the telescopes of La Silla just before Christmas, so I left behind a chilly London, sat on a plane for 15 hours, and then emerged into a hot, sunny Santiago.
It was fantastic to be back. I'd liked Santiago from the moment I first arrived here, on a night train from Temuco in December 2005. This time we stayed in the ESO guesthouse, and the day we arrived was the day of the 2009 presidential election. The election meant that everything was closed, so we had a look round the quiet streets of Las Condes.
The next day, things were back to normal. We went into the city centre and had a look around. One thing I hadn't done when I was here before was go up Cerro Santa Lucía, a small hill near the city centre. So we went up, and enjoyed the awesome views of mountains in the hazy distance.