Valparaiso and the Earthquake

I still have to write the update from Isla Chiloe to the Las Campanas Observatory but wanted to post my earthquake experience ASAP. See all the photos here…

It had been a wild couple of weeks while I raced to La Serena, in order to catch Stella Kafka, the most lovely observational astronomer that I know, on her last night of observation at the Las Campanas observatory. I blazed through Santiago and only spent about 8 hours in Valparaiso – the most colorful and expressive town I’d ever visited. I was sad to have to rush, but the invitation was too fantastic and in the end it was absolutely worth the race – the observatory felt more like a moon base and the stars were unparalleled in their clarity. I was Stella’s assistant for her final night and kept her awake while she searched for distant suns with orbiting planets that might, or might not, be appropriately stable enough to allow for a ‘habitable zone’. (I will write this story next – very cool stuff  – thanks Stella!)

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Willard, Witchcraft & Isla Mechuque

For this episode of Adult Storytime I decided to dig up an old tale that I wrote while in South America in 2010. It’s a semi-fictional mix of adventure, mythology and the questionable detective skills of the main protagonist, Willard. What parts are true? What aren’t? I’ll let you decide. 

Willard was aggravated. A stout local in a Chilean cowboy hat had just strutted down the pier and announced that the ferry had been delayed until later that afternoon. Apparently a distant storm was preventing the boat from approaching, further delaying Willard from reaching the Chilean island of Chiloe. He’d planned to get there yesterday and here he was, still wet and still waiting, in this godforsaken town of Chaiten.

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The Technomad and the Carretera Austral Highway


The winding road towards the Carrera Austral. (See all the pictures here…)

The Chinese maid knocked and entered my Hong Kong apartment in one fluid movement. And by apartment, I really mean a single room so compact that that if you stood in the kitchen you could reach the door, bed, shower or desk in one step. She looked at me and then her eyes drifted to the two glowing monitors, mess of cables and electronic devices spewing onto my desk. From there, her gaze traveled to my bed where a giant map was spread out and covered in red circles and writing. Then, with a look of surprise probably due to the fact that the tiny apartment resembled the den of some gweilo spy, she backed out without saying a word. It was 2005 and it was on my first Technomad journey.

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