19 June 2009

End of primary field operations and Inti Illimani

Drafted: 18 June 2009

Image: Inti Illimani performing at the San Pedro de Atacama Indigenous Cultural Center.

The entire team at Los Gatos; today, was slated to be a rather short day. The mapping team will map and collect volume data on this cave, while the sensor team will manage the instruments. We also returned to Salon to exchange the malfunctioning sensors with operable ones.

Image: Upon our return to Salon we went to the sinkhole entrance where we found this. A recently deposited owl pellet. Owls cannot digest the hair and bones of their prey, and they regurgitate this in the form of a pellet. Notice the wet stain on the cave floor. This pellet was fresh. We know telocotes (or barn owls) are known to frequent these caves.

There’s not a lot to report on this day. It was rather uneventful in terms of mishaps. Our work continues to progress smoothly.

Image: Lynn and Tim in Salon Cave. We're just about to start mop-up operations in this cave.

We did have quite an eventful evening last night. We learned from the lady who owns the almacen (Chilean for “grocery store”) that a traditional altiplano band, Inti Illimani, was playing at the cultural center near our house. This was an incredible treat for the entire team. While San Pedro is indeed a tourist town, this was no tourist event. We’ve been in this town for the past three weeks and we’ve come to recognize the locals from the tourists. We also saw our CONAF friends, Jose Luis and Roberto at the show. The best we could tell we were likely the only non-South Americans attending the show.

Image: Self-portrait in Salon Cave. We have dust masks for this work, but bandanas are just much easier.

It turns out, Inti Llimani is an internationally acclaimed band. They travel the world playing the music of the high Altiplano. It was an eight person band and all of them were multi-instrumentalists. I was quite impressed with them.

As for our instrument woes, we have been unable to change the settings of the sensor collecting data every minute, yet the other sensor now appears to be working properly.

Image: Skylights at Los Gatos.

However, this is quite small in comparison to our overall accomplishments today. Today, we officially completed our primary mission objectives. All of our field objectives have now been met. Tomorrow, we will take an office day to finish up our data entry and complete some administrative tasks related to the expedition.

On Saturday, we will visit two caves to deploy surface sensors next to a few skylights. Once done, our fieldwork is done.

Image: Even the dogs had a good time at the Inti Illimani show. These two played nonstop for almost two hours.

No comments: