I've been Couch Surfing here in Santiago, which has been absolutely wonderful. My host, Jo, is extremely welcoming and generous and has taught me a lot already about Chile and the people here. She's an English teacher here, and its been nice to have a home-base where I don't have to push my language skills constantly.
|Sunset view from Jo's apartment|
The neighborhood around the park, Bellavista, was also very cool and full of a lot of wonderful murals and street art. Some favorites:
Solo adventuring was great since I just walked all day and planned what I wanted to do. But the real beauty of my trip so far was my terrific weekend with Jo and her friends. Friday night, we went out for a friend's birthday, and I got to experience a little big of local Santiago night-life. Saturday, Jo invited me to go with her friends, Felipe and Alonso, for a trip to the mountains. After starting to drive, we decided to go to the beach instead. We made it just in time for sunset.
We came back to Santiago in the morning, and I knew that I wanted to spend the day going to the Santiago Planetarium, which is only open to the public on weekends. I convinced Felipe and Alonso to come too, since Jo had to work.
|3D movie "A journey to the Big Bang"|
Monday I went to the Astronomy Department at U de Chile, way on the outskirts of the city on a remote hill. I talked with people there about the outreach activities that happen on the premises, as well as the challenges they face. They have about 10 domes, but only some of them actually have telescopes inside, including their largest dome, which is now being used as a storage space. It all comes down to funding, as always... They hope that in the future, they can turn the big dome into their own planetarium and be more accessible to the Santiago community.
|large dome, now used as storage space|
|one of the many observatories on the department's campus|
And tomorrow I go to La Serena! A 7ish hour bus ride north to a place known for its night skies and the telescopes that observe them.
I apologize for this long post! I think I'll either need to have fewer adventures or write more often. Thanks for reading!