Patagonia Total Solar Eclipse 2020

Patagonia Total Solar Eclipse 2020

Patagonia, Eclipse Solar Total de 2020

They say that once you’ve seen one total solar eclipse it becomes an addiction. Since I saw my first eclipse three years ago, I’ve really been looking forward to the next opportunity to witness such an awe-inspiring event. Despite a mountain of obstacles, that’s how I found myself in Argentina, on a trip that seemed impossible, under the shadow of the moon.

Se dice que una vez has visto un eclipse solar total se vuelve una adicción. Así es. Desde hace tres años, cuando vi por primera vez un eclipse, me hace mucha ilusión ver esta maravilla otra vez. Así que, a pesar de muchos trámites, me encontré en Argentina, en un viaje que parecía imposible, debajo de la sombra de la luna.

– Our viewing site
– Nuestro sitio para ver el eclipse

It’s true that total solar eclipses happen every few years but the important question is “where do they happen?” The world is enormous and in the majority of eclipses the moon casts its shadow over remote and inhospitable places, like the middle of the ocean or the frozen polar regions of the planet or the dense amazon jungle. So, I understood very well how rare an eclipse that passes across Patagonia would be. It checked all the boxes: an easily accessible location with a dry climate, middle of the summer, and the eclipse would pass overhead at noon with the sun high in the sky. You couldn’t ask for better conditions.

Es verdad que los eclipses suceden cada pocos años pero ¿dónde ocurren? El mundo es enorme y en la mayoría de los eclipses la luna proyecta su sombra sobre los lugares más remotos e inhóspitos, como el medio del océano pacífico, el congelado polo sur o la densa selva amazónica. Por lo tanto, entendía claramente qué tan raro es un eclipse que pasa por Patagonia, una región bien seca, en el medio de verano y a mediodía. No se puede pedir mejores condiciones.

– Our eclipse viewing site… tents block the strong wind
– Árboles y tiendas bloquean el fuerte viento

The wind was super strong, like always in the Patagonian steppe. Luckily, the owners of the ranch we’d been offered as our viewing location, set up big tents to block the wind. We arrived a few hours before the start of the eclipse, which gave me the opportunity to meet the on-site astronomer who explained the science behind this rare celestial event.

Hacía mucho viento como siempre en la estepa de Patagonia. Por suerte, habían montado unas carpas grandes para bloquear el viento. Llegamos unas horas antes del eclipse, por tanto tuve la oportunidad de conocer al astrónomo que me explicó la ciencia detrás de este evento celestial tan raro.

– Luciana admires the disappearing sun
– Luciana mira el sol

More and more people arrived, everyone watching the sun, waiting for the magic moment.

Llegaron más y más personas, todas mirando el sol, esperando el momento mágico.

– Binoculars with filters
– Hay que usar filtros para ver el sol, si no te quedas ciego.

Even the gauchos (Argentine cowboys) were excited. As much for the traditional barbeque as for the eclipse, I think!

Hasta los gauchos estaban muy emocionados. Eso tanto por el asado como por el eclipse, creo.

– Chefs taking a break to peak at the sun
– Hasta los gauchos están emocionados
– While the sun dims, lunch cooks
– Mientras el sol desaparece, el asado se cocina

The moment of first contact finally arrived – the edge of the moon made contact with the sun. You can’t look at the sun with the naked eye, so it’s not immediately obvious what’s happening. With a pair of special glasses or, even better, a powerful telescope specially equipped with filters, you can look directly at the sun and see clearly that the moon is slowly covering it up.

Por fin, llegó el momento en el que la luna hace contacto con el sol. No se puede observar el sol a simple vista y así uno no se da cuenta de lo que está pasando, pero con lentes protectores o, mejor, el telescopio poderoso, se nota que la luna está cubriendo el sol, poco a poco.

Little by little, the light dimmed. At the same time, the strong wind calmed down too. What a surreal feeling.

Poco a poco la luz disminuyó. También el viento disminuyó. ¡Qué raro!

Everything changed slowly as the moon slowly covered more and more of the sun. When the eclipse reached 99%, suddenly things started to change and rather strangely too. Swallows came out to catch mosquitos, just like they do at sunset. Horses out in the pasture started to bolt and neigh. There was something electric in the air, like the moment right before lightning strikes the ground.

Durante una hora todo cambió despacio. Cuando la luna llegó a cubrir el 99% del sol, de repente las cosas empezaron a cambiar de una manera bastante extraña. Las golondrinas salieron para comer insectos como si fuera el atardecer. Los caballos en el prado empezaron a correr y relinchar. Había algo eléctrico en el aire, como el momento justo antes de que un relámpago golpee la tierra.

Suddenly, the light of the sun disappeared. What then appeared in the sky, I can’t explain. I felt like I was seeing the eye of God, and I’m not even a religious person. I felt fear, admiration, and amazement, all at the same time. I don’t think there’s another human experience that can compare with this one.

De repente, la luz del sol desapareció. Lo que quedó en el cielo no te lo puedo explicar (¡ni siquiera en inglés!). Me sentí como si estuviera viendo el ojo de Dios. Sentí miedo, admiración y asombro todo en el mismo momento. No creo que haya una experiencia humana que se pueda comparar con esta.

– The magic moment
– El momento mágico

You can watch the eclipse without special glasses, without filters, for the entire duration of totality. But as soon as a tiny bit of the sun reappears, it’s blindingly bright. Very quickly, the world returns to normal and you feel relieved, as if the world weren’t about to end after all.

To celebrate such a successful and exciting eclipse viewing, as soon as totality ended the gauchos served everyone a delicious lunch. They roasted an entire cow! I generally try to avoid eating much meat, so I was really happy that they also cooked a ton of veggies. What a banquet of food and what a nice way to celebrate such a challenging journey.

Se puede mirar el eclipse total sin lentes, sin filtros, durante la duración de la totalidad. Tan pronto como aparece un pedacito del sol otra vez, es cegadoramente brillante. Muy rápido el mundo vuelve a la normalidad y te sientes aliviado, como si el mundo no fuera a terminar, después de todo.

Para celebrar un avistamiento tan exitoso y tan emocionante, nada más terminar la totalidad, los guachos nos sirvieron un almuerzo muy rico. ¡Asaron una vaca entera! También había calabazas, berenjenas, papas y un montón de otras verduras. ¡Qué banquete de comida y qué buena manera de festejar un viaje tan desafiante!

– Traditional Argentine asado – an entire cow!
– ¡Una vaca entera!

Next up, I’m off to explore the abandoned streets of Buenos Aires…

A continuación voy a explorar las calles vacías de Buenos Aires…

Argentina Is Closed

Argentina Is Closed

Argentina está cerrada

I don’t like to give up. For the last two years, I’ve been planning a trip to Argentina to see the December 14 Total Solar Eclipse. When COVID exploded in March, Argentina closed their borders and I realized that it was going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to see the eclipse. In spite of this seemingly impossible situation, I never gave up hope. In the months and weeks leading up to the eclipse, I got in touch with anyone and everyone who might be able to help me get in. Everyone told me the same thing: it was simply impossible, the borders were totally closed, and my dream was crazy. Finally, with only a few days to go, I got in touch with a travel agent who had contact with the Argentine Ministries of Tourism & Immigration. Long story short, that’s how I found myself on an international flight for the first time in nine months. Continue reading “Argentina Is Closed”

2020 in 12 Photos

2020 hasn’t been the best year for travelling, which has been my main theme and focus for the last ten years. Despite that, I did manage to visit five new countries at the beginning of the year before the coronavirus turned into a pandemic and I’ve also learned a new language – español. While I couldn’t travel during most of the year, staying put in Canada gave me the opportunity to explore my own backyard and to spend time with my loved ones.

El 2020 no ha sido el mejor año para viajar, lo que a mí más me gusta hacer. Sin embargo, logré visitar cinco nuevos países y he aprendido a hablar un nuevo idioma – el hermoso español. No pude viajar durante gran parte del año pero eso me permitió conocer mejor mi propia tierra y pasar más tiempo valioso con mis queridos familiares.

– January – A tea ceremony welcomes us to Kinosaki Onsen, Japan
– Enero – ¡Bienvenidos a Kinosaki Onsen, Japón! Una ceremonia de té nos da la bienvenida más cálida

Continue reading “2020 in 12 Photos”

How a pandemic brought me back home

How a pandemic brought me back home

Cómo una pandemia me trajo de regreso a casa

Sometimes life takes us in directions we’d never anticipated. Eight months ago I thought I’d be travelling through South America right now. My plan was to visit all the Spanish-speaking countries on the continent. But that was not to be. All of a sudden, a now infamous virus appeared, completely changing my plans. That’s how I found myself back in Canada, surrounded by beautiful mountains and one of the most celebrated mountain biking trails in the world. Continue reading “How a pandemic brought me back home”

Valhalla Climbing

Valhalla Climbing

After spending a fantastic week canoeing on Slocan Lake, I really wanted to explore the mountains higher up. Valhalla Provincial Park is an alpine paradise that few people ever visit. The interior of the park is hidden by big hills that block the view from the lake and road below. But, believe me, it’s worth the effort to hike up and explore this enchanting place. Continue reading “Valhalla Climbing”

Escaping to Slocan Lake

Escaping to Slocan Lake

While we’re all stuck at home and unable to travel, I’m learning Spanish. This is my first post in that beautiful language. Wish me luck 🙂 Español enseguida…

After three months in “quarantine”, back home in Canada, I really want to travel. At a minimum, I want to go somewhere new, to explore undiscovered hidden gems, even if they’re in my own backyard. So, when Jim invited us to join him for a week on beautiful Slocan Lake, I was delighted.
Continue reading “Escaping to Slocan Lake”

Returning to Sri Lanka

Returning to Sri Lanka

I love visiting new countries but sometimes it’s nice to return to a place you’ve been before, especially when you have good friends there. Rob and Jolanda have been coming to Sri Lanka nearly every year since they first met (and even longer for Rob). It’s like a second home for them. Rob says it’s his happy place. The surf and the weather are just perfect and there are so many friendly familiar faces.
Continue reading “Returning to Sri Lanka”