La Tatacoa

Because of all the rain we’ve received the last two weeks, the Tatacoa Desert was a fuzzy green. Grass and a minty, cloverish looking ground cover made for a happy feast for the cows. It was beautiful, reminding me a good bit of the drier parts of the Texas Hill Country. Supposedly the Tatacoa is not technically a desert (not big enough I guess), but it is the second driest place in Colombia and great for star gazing.

We took an hour drive north to the town of Villaviaje and then onto the desert. The drive itself was a fun adventure, with green haciendas and small (but towering) mesas rising at random times. Enrique, our guide (and landlord for the past two weeks) and I had a very enjoyable conversation ranging from Colombian economics to “explain to me Barak Obama”.

The Tatacoa’s ground (when not green) is iron ore red with fun, pyramids of dirt that were crowned with huge Cacti. Some 5 miles in we found a man made “Piscina” (think swimming hole) filed with volunteer students from Brazil, Germany, Tiawan, Colombia, and Equador (language used to communicate – Spanglish).

As the sun set we made our way back to the observatory to attend a presentation and look through three telescopes. Unfortunately the night was somewhat cloudy, but we were able to see quite a few constellations (and viewed Jupiter – complete with its bands – through one of the telescopes). Because we’re on the equator, we get to see constellations from both the northern and southern hemispheres. A double treat.

Even more amazing was the fact that Diego sat through the entire presentation calmly and respectably (he did let out a big “WOW” when the astronomer activated his laser pen – which caused everyone to bust out laughing). What a freaking awesome kid.

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