Happy (late) Winter Solstice!
Since I’m down in the southern hemisphere, June 21st was the shortest day of the year. Since Chile has a different Daylight Savings Time regiment than the US, less light means the sun comes up really late; when we go to get our field gear in the morning at 7:00 it’s still completely dark for another half hour or so.
So I’ve been here in Santiago for a couple weeks now, and settling into the swing of things. Some things are similar to a big city in theUS, some are different. Rush hours, funeral processions with blinking headlights, cars tend not to yield to pedestrians. Not too many people on cell phones, though, which is nice. A big problem is pollution (see picture): given Santiago’s 6 million people, about 5 million cars, and its surrounding geography (in a valley with theAndesto the east and foothills to the west) the city vulnerable to pollution problems, and they’ve come up with some interesting solutions. For instance, every registered car’s license plate is paired with a day of the week. Should pollution gauges say the air isn’t clean enough on a particular day, those cars paired with that day aren’t allowed on the road. Also, there is a main street in the city on which traffic usually goes two ways; to accommodate business traffic, however, at 7:30am every weekday the street suddenly becomes one-way. I don’t know how this doesn’t cause any accidents. We also drive down this street about 7:25 each morning our way to the field site, against the impending direction-switch. I’m just waiting for us to be a bit too late one morning.
Even though this is the rainy season in Chile, it’s only rained three days since I’ve been here, June 17th-19th. There’s still a lot to do around, though; we went to the art museum on one of the days (most of the museums are free on the weekends).
Other than that, the weather is very consistently variable: about 30 degrees in the morning, warming up to the 50s and 60s in the afternoon. I’ve never been anywhere with such a wide daily discrepancy.
Work at the field site has been great so far. We’ve gone out every day since the weekend of the 18th when it rained. During the first week, we had to rotate who went out to the field because our rented truck can only fit five (leaving room for Loren and 4 students). The last couple of days, though, all 5 students could go out at once since both grad students picked up driving a standard surprisingly quick. I got really excited a couple of days before I left the US when Loren asked me to get an Inter-American Driver’s permit, since I was the student with the most experience driving a standard. But we found out you have to be 24 to drive a rented car, so the fun driving is reserved for the grad students. Oh well.
There’s a lot more I can talk about, but I’m going to spread it out over the next couple posts. Next time, I’ll go more in depth with the work we’re doing with the degus. Also, I’ve posted some pictures, so take a look! I was having some trouble with the links, so let me know if they don’t work.