We left Santiago on an early flight north to Antofagasta. I enjoyed perusing a Spanish issue of InfoWorld on the flight, and learned a few useful translations ("computador", "procesador", "web", and "software"). The flight went well, and was uneventful until we were about to land; the view of the Atacama was breathtaking. From the air we could see mountains rising up out of the sea, vast streches of desert, and the high peaks below us to the east. Some of us imagined we could see the planned area for the Trek (a north-south range of peaks with a pass cut through the middle). As we got closer to the landing area, and could begin to see the signs of human construction, it was easy to imagine I was looking not at the beginnings of a mining city with population greater than a quarter million, but rather at a sneak preview of the appearance of the first signs of human construction on another world.
After landing, we learned that Nomad's flight from Santiago had been delayed due to technical problems with the transport plane. While Alex and Michael remained at the airport to resolve this, the rest of us were driven into the heart of Antofagosta. Our driver gave us a verbal tour along the way (naming the beaches, rocky outcroppings, mining company operations sites), and I did my best to translate his descriptions into English. We arrived at the rental site, and accepted delivery of the trucks we'll be using in the desert. We also checked into a hotel, and I wished I'd been able to spend more time improving my Spanish; without Alex, I became our spokesperson for these tasks, and my pre-intermediate level of comprehension makes it difficult (though possible) to get things done.
We regrouped at the hotel, and learned that Michael and Alex had arranged for Nomad to arrive at 0300 tonight. Most of the team then went back to the military part of the airport, to meet with the people who will be housing Nomad for the next couple days. The army has agreed to let us use space and power in one of their quonset huts (small hangers) to do some work on Nomad prior to transporting it to the desert. Our team had a coincidentally stunning reception: the army is honoring their infantry this week, so during the visit they got to see a display of troops, polished vehicles, a military band, and cannon firing in celebration.
As of 2000 hours, we look forward to Nomad's imminent arrival at 0300, and most team members are out exploring the city. I managed to irritate a strained back muscle this afternoon (something that happened during packing last week), so I'm sitting out today's round of exploration, and (as you can see) catching up on email.
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Last Modified on: Wed Jun 25, 1997