Yesterday I was happy to look out and see that it was dawn, but I went back to sleep for 15 more minutes. I woke up again and threw on my pants and went to wake up the girls – I was in a guys’ dorm and they were in the girls’. We had a crappy breakfast but were excited because we were going to Punto Norte, the furthest point on the desert penninsula. A two hour drive to see, hopefully, orcas that rode up in the waves and snatched seals off the beach.
We got in the car and started across the desert, still early in the morning, still what I´d call dawn, as the sun made long shadows and felt cool. We saw all sorts of wildlife on the drive, more than we´d seen the day before. We saw the regular llamas and sheep, but in addition we saw foxes and packs of emus crossing the road. The highlight was when a jackrabbit saw us coming and went sprinting ahead of the car. We pulled even with him – going SIXTY kilometers per hour! I was hanging out the passenger side (of my best friend´s ride) with the good camera and I managed to snap two really good shots of the thing, background blurry and all. It´s really a great picture because I think it´s very rare that people get to take a picture of a sprinting jackrabbit at the same speed.
We got to the North Point but unfortunately the tide was low (fun little miscommunication with the rangers). We got to see the elephant seals, though, which are nasty creatures. They´re essentially sacks of guts, poorly designed, constantly grumpy. They were screaming at each other and fighting all the time, not a quiet moment. There were some dead pups being fed on by birds, the mother occasionally scaring them off, but the birds did eventually get the best of the carcass.
From there we drove, pretty uneventfully, the rest of the way around the penninsula, the trip took about 4 or 5 hours on dirt roads, in all. We stopped at one point to look at an enormous salt flat, empty and hot looking. We couldn´t go out onto it because of a fence, but it was cool just to be on the “shore”. Autsy drove us back safely to the town for some lunch and a siesta.
When we woke up Azure and I went for a walk around the hill on the west side of the town to, you know, see what was there. It turns out that the ground dropped 20 feet down to the beach and the only way to access it was by lowering yourself down a rope. I was excited to do it, of course, but azure didn´t want any part. I liked how the beach was in plain view but almost inaccessible. It felt private. After I lowered myself down I saw there was a wall of mussels that was kinda a cave carved out by the waves and I saw the reflection of water on the ceiling even though the tide was low. I tucked my head in to investigate and found a little puddle with stuff sliming around in it, but the cool thing was I stuck my head in a parabola, so I could hear whatever was behind me, and I swear I heard a whale squealing. I didn´t see it, though.
Anyway, I climbed back up the rope and walked a little along the edge of the cliff looking at fossils in the ground. There´s this weird phenomenon at Piramides where the ground you´re walking on is all old mud that has fossils in it, so you´re literally walking on thousands and thousands of visible fossils the whole time. I imagine that when it rains, the top layer of the ground erodes and some of the fossils come loose.
After dinner I demanded that since we were so close to the desert and it would be a moonless night we should drive way out away from the lights and look at the stars. We took off just after sunset, and I´m glad we went so early because when we got to a lookout point, the sky was alarming… It was a clear, clear night and when you looked at where the sun had set, you could see the curve of the earth in the atmosphere where the dark sky and stars met the blue. I could see all the colors of the rainbow in the remaining band of sky. It was, I imagine, the most pure sunset you can see. No interference from land or pollution or dust or clouds. Just air and light.
At the same time the stars were appearing dozens at a time, so many that I looked at Orion´s belt and wondered why they picked those three out of the handfulls around them. We saw four celestial events: a plane, a satellite and two shooting stars. One of the shooting start tore a light blue streak slowly across the sky, only Autsy and I saw it. The Milky Way was cool and I had one of those moments, laying on my back on the ground, where I could actually imagine we were on a ball in the three dimensional space of the stars, that the black sky had depth. Times like that you feel like you´re not looking up, but out.
I managed to take some cool pictures, I guess I´ll see how they turn out on the computer. I´m really excited about them, but I don´t know if the smaller stars will come out they way they looked last night. I mean, I´m sure they won´t, but it would be cool if they did.
Click here to see more wildlife pictures.