We flew due South out of Miami, but ended up on the west coast of South America.


The flight did not leave Miami until late in the afternoon.  It lasted 5 or 6 hours, so we did not get checked in to the hotel at Lima until midnight,  The plane to Tacna was going to leave very early, so we only got a few hours sleep.  

The next morning gave us this gray view out the window


Lima is a huge and complex mix of Urbana.  The sky gray and misty,  most streets were clean.   In some streets people were burning piles oftrash, but better that, than it blowing around.


Our Hotel was right across the street from the US Embassy, well guarded by amored vehicles

There were a large number of VW Beetles running about.


We landed at barren Tacna in mid morning, on an airstrip barely big enough to handle the 737. 

It was a dusty place, with nothing green in sight.  The terminal was small block structure with poor ventilation, and we overcrowded it quickly. 



Tacna is a small town, but has a lot of colonial architecture.  

The day after Halloween meant the town would be celebrating with a parade that night.   But the expedition to the Eclipse viewing site was going to leave about midnight that day.   

Deciding to forgo some sleep, we spent the afternoon walking around town.  


Above: Architecture of this bank is typical of many buildings.  Though most were not this nice,  all seemed to have been well cared for.



Right: Typical street building

Our viewing site was high in the Andes, an arid  place which had not seen rain in seventeen years.  The bus left just after midnight, so we could not see how desolate and barren the location was until the sun came up the next morning.  The trip took two or three hours up dirt roads ascending the Andes.  Itr was bumpy and dark, and by the bus marker lights, we could see that it was dusty, but that was about it.

At the Site, the night sky was intense.   Delicate and faint star clouds in the Milky Way blared tiny, tiny detail.   A number of people set up telescopes, and we spent several hours moving between the scopes looking at clusters and nebulae I had never seen before.  After traveling all this way, the group experience atop the mountain was almost worth the trip in itself.

It turned out that our location was a spectacular place;  very much like the Moon, barren.   With each footstep, a small cloud of dust was raised.   It had been a chilly night, and Dawn brought only slight warmth.




 ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier (right) was in the group as well.

As the Sun rose, clouds cleared away above mountains to the east.  The sun would be about 35 degrees up when it occurred.   

As Totality neared, the morning light dimmed, and the slice of the Sun grew thinner and thinner, until thin as a line, and then it shortened, drawing into a point.   When that point disappeared, the Corona flared into view.  

It is a delicate, and ghostly sight.  No wonder it terrified the living daylights out of the ancients.  We were seeing something that most people go their whole lives without seeing; the Sun completely blacked, and the Solar Corona seemingly freed.   Magnetic field lines directed, turned, and bent the corona into delicate wisps, and gently glowing with a metallic pink/gray/purple/silver glow that is hard to describe, except to say that it is astonishing to see, personally see, that the Sun actually has such a delicate structure.   Something we visually avoid because of its brightness, actually has a "structure" that is there all the time.  Through binoculars, I could see heat waves saturating and rippling the haze of the corona.  It was suddenly possible to get a feel of the size of the Sun, the scale of what I was looking at.   The scene had "depth" I had not expected.  The 'backside' of the corona had more heat distortion, than the closer side..    

Two or three small points of fiery red appeared around the perimeter, much like a distant car tail light on a darkened highway.  They were shaped like explosion clouds, but seized, unmoving.   Here, the reality of day-to-day life was suspended, replaced with a larger reality, that of the Universe, as a theoretically unlikely event occurred, flaring, almost as if in anger, and its eerie, delicate coronal light bathed down on us and the ground upon which we all stood, looking back up in awe.  


Last bit before Totality.

Totality nearing the end.

No indications of civilization for miles in any direction.  The Pan American highway was just a dirt path.


The Security Team provided to the group.  A couple brandish AK-47 rifles with collapsible stocks.   After we took our picture they were just as eager to have the same picture taken with their cameras.  Despite a language barrier, it was a great moment.

This Sun and Moon medallion came from a small market on the road to Cuzco.  



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