After my sickness the day before and not eating for about 36 hours, I felt really weak, so the first day in San Pedro de Atacama was a quiet one, to make sure I was well enough for the stargazing tour tonight. The stargazing in San Pedro de Atacama is one of the best in the world.
We went out into the dusty little desert town, had a walk around and stopped for some lunch. I had a cheese, avocado and tomato sandwich - by the way, the avocado in South America is so tasty! - but could only manage half.
We got picked up from the town at 9pm and Caroline and Tash were on the same tour as us! You really do see a lot of the same faces on the tourist trail and they'd been staying in the same hostel in San Pedro as Roger. We took a short drive out of town and the bus driver turned the lights off inside the bus as he pulled into the stargazing area.
A Canadian man, who took the tour, came on to the bus and greeted us, then took us outside to begin. The sky was unbelievably clear, just in like in Bolivia, and it was just beautiful. I so wish we had a camera that could have taken an image of it all. The guide took us through the history behind stargazing, where the constellations are, what people thought the position of stars meant years ago, what we know about the stars now and so much more, all with good humour, which made it really fun. He had this awesome green laser pen to point everything out to us in the sky and that made it really easy to follow too.
I saw my first shooting star!
You could see Jupiter and even the shadowy area that was another galaxy of stars in space with just your eyes. We then got to play with some massive telescopes. We saw Jupiter again but with its rings and some of its moons - it was so clear! We saw Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, the jewel box cluster of stars that looks red, blue and green close up, and Alpha Centauri, which is actually two stars and because of the angle we were looking at it, it looks like a sparkler on bonfire night through the telescope. And so many more. It was so cool to be able to see them all and the couple of hours we were out there went so quickly.
After the telescopes, we went inside a building with a clear roof so you can still look out and a tree in it (they must have built around it) to have hot chocolate and ask any questions. Lots of people had questions and Andrew asked one too about how you measure stars and the distance between them and us. I was a bit distracted because the man on my left was sipping his hot chocolate so loudly (his wife and son didn't even tell him to be quieter!) and a woman in front of us was madly stroking up and down the trunk of the tree with the palm of her hand?!
Today I felt better and we had a chilled out day, blogging, shopping and we spent the afternoon having beers (Andrew) and lemonade (me - not well enough for alcohol yet) in the plaza people watching and chatting. We definitely found that you need some days doing 'nothing', otherwise it really does wear you out. Sounds funny when we're basically on an extended holiday!
Andrew made an awesome curry for dinner. The group of French people at our hostel were so impressed by his cooking that they didn't think we were English!
Due to the slow day, Andrew has started reading a book - 1227 QI facts to blow your socks off. Apparently a 1/6 of the earths land surface surface legally owned by the Queen, 50% of Nasa's people are dyslexic and a kangaroo has three vaginas. He's only on page two and he keeps telling me a fact every 30 seconds...totally putting me off my writing!