I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a long time, almost two years. I’m in Chile leading a workshop that will climax in photographing the total solar eclipse on Tuesday. We are meeting today in Santiago, going to the cool town of Valparaiso tomorrow and then driving up the coast to our base in La Serena for the eclipse.
I had flown through Santiago when I came to Chile in December to scout next year’s eclipse in the southern part of the country but this one is in the north and I haven’t been there. It will be a true adventure.
My plane arrived around 7:00 a.m. and I met one of the participants, Jane from New York, at the airport. We got the rental van, checked in to the hotel and I took a nap. Overnight flights are tough and even though I slept a good deal I wanted to make sure I didn’t start the trip sleep deprived. Jane joined me a little after noon and we went into Santiago. I had done research on places to go but it always hard. I read about a park on a mountain overlooking the city. It was cool but didn’t make for great photos. On the way down there was a Japanese garden that looked interesting, so we stopped. It was pretty but it is winter in Chile so the plants were very vibrant.
We went over to a neighborhood where there is a lot of street art. There happened to be a street market but it was shutting down by the time we got there. There were a series of multi-story apartment buildings with windowless walls on the end facing the street. A local art museum paid artists to paint murals on the walls and they were spectacular. It was a great place to make some fun photos. The locals were extremely friendly, many hamming for photos when they saw our cameras. It was a great experience.
We then went to the heart of old Santiago to a tourist area around a large open square surrounded by a cathedral and old government buildings. Street parking is different in Chile. Rather than have meters they have people come around as you park on the street and print out a ticket. When you leave you pay the street attendant. I had experienced it once in December but didn’t quite remember that was the way it is done. The attendant didn’t speak much English and I didn’t pay enough attention in my high school Spanish class to really get by. I finally understood what was going on and we were off to see the sights.
There is a large street closed off to traffic and lined with vendors. A large number of the vendors were in wheel chairs, to the extent that both Jane and I wondered if it was a marketing tool more than a necessity. I wanted to stick around long enough to see if they walked away when they were done selling. A couple were obviously in need of the chair.
We were there as the sun went down and the sky took on some wonderful colors. New, modern buildings had sprung up next to the old ones and made for a striking contrast. After the sun went down the lights came on and the colorful sky made for some nice photos. We were meeting the other participants back at the hotel for dinner and it was a great start to a new photographic adventure.