I had made a goal, that I dropped almost immediately, to post every day.  It turns out, I get busy.  It also turns out, some days are just not terribly exciting.  It also turns out that when people are around I write less.  Go figure.  My friend Steve was here for a week and I only wrote two posts I think.  Some of that was being in San Pedro for the weekend and staying up crazy late.  Some was just having someone to talk to in the evening.

I haven’t yet figured out how to write up San Pedro.  It was an excellent and odd experience.  The place where I went is almost a mecca among amateur astronomers.  SpaceObs is located a few klicks south of San Pedro and offers an incredible view of the surrounding desert as well as the universe.  It is a site entirely devoted to astronomy.  If you’re trying to choose between SpaceObs and Hacienda Los Andes, you have a tough choice as both offer excellent skies, lodging and quality rental gear.  The sky at San Pedro is probably a hair better as it is situated almost a mile higher in elevation.  Light pollution is roughly an equal issue at both places as SpaceObs is just outside San Pedro which is a very small town with strict lighting regulations due to the nearby major observatories.  Hacienda is roughly 75km from La Serena, a much larger city.  Hacienda gets a few more clear nights per year.  Like I say, it’s a tough call on your own.

If you’re traveling with family who are uninterested in astronomy, you have an easier choice.  Hacienda has a restaurant, for instance, which makes life easier.  There are many activities on site as part of the inn, which actually operates as a regular inn for many folks.  Not so at SpaceObs.  On the other hand, within a couple of hours of SpaceObs are some seriously unique and wonderful experiences including geysers at 14,000 feet, salt lagoons, salt flats, Valley of the Moon, etc.  There is great hiking, biking and camping.  All of which assumes you haven’t stayed up until dawn.  The town of San Pedro has many serviceable restaurants.

SpaceObs, itself, is completely dedicated to astronomy.  There is a cement pad filled with permanently mounted telescopes as well as many domes hosting telescopes either owned by locals or operated remotely.  There is a new 20″ Dob for rent.  The business operates tours wherein it brings busloads of folks out from San Pedro proper for a couple of hours of looking through the scopes.  And they’re busy with as many as five tours per night.

Steve and I, being avid amateur astronomers, loved it.  Still, it is so dry.  So, so, so dry.  I think I wrote previously about how much liquid we drank. Turns out I was wrong.  I thought the water cooler was 5 gallons but it was actually 10.  We drank it all plus quite a bit we brought on our own.

I’ll describe San Pedro itself when the class does our trip there in June.  And I’ll say more about the astronomy when I am done processing the images I made.

Today, I visited a Chilean doctor for the first (and hopefully only) time.  I made the appointment before we left for San Pedro.  A cold passed around the students just before Steve arrived and I picked it up, as I was bound to do.  Of course, I gave it to Steve.  I was mostly on the mend before we left but Steve was probably at his lowest the day we traveled to San Pedro.  This explains his turning in around 2am while I made it to 4:30.  I made the appointment out of an abundance of caution figuring that even though I was getting better, I was about to spend three days staying up all night so I might have a relapse.  I haven’t but the congestion has lingered.

So, off to Clinica Alemana for a 9am appointment.  I left at 0730 trying to give myself enough time.  It’s a metro ride almost to the east (rich) end of Line 1 and then a 30 minute walk.  However, I botched following google maps and wound up having to flag a cab to arrive a few minutes before 9.  No worries.  Except.  “Clinica”.  In English, that would imply a small building with three or four doctors.  Nope.  It’s a major hospital straddling an avenue.  My appointment email didn’t really say anything about where the doctor was.  I bounced around offices and finally made my way to the doctor.  It turns out I was supposed to email the form they sent me rather than fill it out and bring it with me as I had done.  That cost a few minutes.  I then went to the business office of the unit that handles international patients.  They routed me to the doctor who was waiting for me.  It turns out I did have enough information.  The doctor I was to see was in “medicina internista” which, according to about a dozen signs I ignored, was on floor 7.  The doctor was an older gent who was very nice.

Here is how the visit started:

“Hola,” he said, “Como estas?”

“Bien, gracias.  Hablas ingles?”

“Oh, si!”

And then we proceeded to have the appointment in Spanish. So, I gather, he does speak English, he just wasn’t going to.  It was okay.  I think it was Chapter 6 in the textbook of our Forsyth Tech class that covered doctor’s visits and illness so I was all over it.  Thanks, Carlos!

We were pretty much done when he asked something about other illnesses and I mentioned being diabetic.  That turned it into a full on physical.  Pokes and prods, thorough foot exam, weight, which made him grunt and measure my height and grunt again.  I know that was probably a good thing as I would be about due for a checkup but still.  I have a cough.  He went ahead and gave me antibiotics based on being diabetic and that is, in fact, my major concern.  Colds like this turn easily to bacterial infections in diabetics, me included.  So, I’m happy to have the antibiotics even if I don’t think I actually have a bacterial infection at the moment.  Being smarter than everyone else, I’ll probably wait to get seriously ill before taking them.

(Okay, seriously, overuse of antibiotics is a serious problem in our world and I am reluctant to take prophylactic antibiotics.  The doc himself said what I have is viral and he only prescribed the antibiotics after learning I was diabetic.  So, it isn’t just me.)

I had a much quicker trip back and then spent the rest of the day going over homework with students.  I made a quick trip to the store.  You see what I mean about lack of subject matter to write about.

More of the same tomorrow.  I will try to get the images from San Pedro up soon.  For now, here is earthshine on the moon on our last night in San Pedro:


And a view of Cerro Pili from the patio:


Pili is, by the way, right at 20,000 feet tall and is about 80km from us here.


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