Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse

Portland, Oregon was near totality for today's solar eclipse. We would have had to go about 70 miles south to experience totality, but 99.44% in our back yard seemed close enough. So we walked across the street to Jamison Park, where we joined a few dozen of our neighbors to witness the event. I didn't plan to photograph the eclipse itself, but rather the spectators with their special glasses in the dark and contrasty light.

The unexpected happened as we left the park after the maximum occlusion had passed. We noticed crescents on the sidewalk under the trees. The small spaces between the leaves had acted as pinholes, serving as a set of pinhole cameras to project images of the solar crescent on the flat surface.

And then, walking back to our condo building, we saw this strange light pattern on the flat wall. Light was reflecting from windows in a building opposite, and the overall dim illumination allowed us to see the different intensities of reflection from the imperfectly planar windows.

Bolivia: Rock Valley in the Snow

An unexpected snowfall, which yesterday made it difficult for us to reach our hotel, gave a different appearance to the bizarre formations in the Rock Valley.

The Stone Tree

Note the table in the center, and the pyramid to the left.

Vicuñas grazing

Our caravan

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bolivia: Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve

Passing through the mysterious town, we entered the million-acre reserve, a place of spare and striking beauty.

Strange eroded volcanic rock formations, of which we'll see more tomorrow

Vividly backlit tufts of grass, receding to the distance

Vicuñas against distant hills, standing out against a dusting of snow

A hungry and inquisitive fox that explored our vehicles

Flamingos in a shallow lake, precursors of a much larger flock we'll see the next day

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bolivia: After the Salt Flats

Leaving the Salar de Uyuni, we drove toward the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve, first passing through a strangely empty town. There was an impressive stone church, which we were told had been moved - stone by stone - from some distant spot. But it seemed closed, except for a caretaker, and the rest of the town showed little life.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bolivia: Appreciation and Celebration on Salar de Uyuni

As the sun sinks, shadows outline the polygonal cells into which the salt crystallizes.

Our drivers enjoyed concocting illusions based on the broad perspectives of the lake.

As the sun began to set, we enjoyed a celebration with good Bolivian wine and cheese hosted by our tour leaders Andrea (right) and Daniel (left) and arranged by our four drivers.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bolivia: Fish Island Cactus in Salar de Uyuni

Fish Island isn't really an island (at least currently) but rather a rise above the surrounding salt lake with an amazing growth of cacti. We hiked to the top and down the other side.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bolivia: Selling Salt from Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni is the biggest salt flat in the world, which makes it both a tourist attraction and a great mine for salt. Collection is limited to certain areas, but the scale is impressive.

This fellow collects, bags, and sells artisan salt.

Salt collecting off to the horizon.

Industrial scale harvesting of salt blocks for building (e.g., our hotel)

A building where backpackers can rest, socialize, and get a bite to eat.

Flags of backpackers from different countries.

Flamingos feed on brine shrimp from salt lakes. Here's one carved from salt.