Working Man

I left Santiago Monday afternoon and after a 2 hour flight and a 2 hour bus ride I made it to the ALMA worksite, where I will be working for at least the next 2 years.  I will be working a turno shift: 8 days (including travel) at ALMA followed by 6 days off in Santiago.  My job title is “North American Antenna Engineer”.  I still am processing what that means, but basically I am part of the team that approves Radio telescopes for use.  So I will not be using the telescopes, just making sure they are assembled and working correctly.

I’m a little wore out to describe much more, but suffice to say I made the right decision in taking this position.  The thing that strikes me most here is that the people here are passionate about this project and dedicated to its success.  A little different from other work environments.  Also, the site itself is alien and extreme yet beautiful and amazing too.  We are in the highest driest desert.  The assembly site is at 10,000 feet and no humidity. The final operations site is at 16,000 feet.  I feel like I’m working on Mars.  I work all day, eat all my meals with, and sleep at night within snoring range of my co-workers.  Lucky everyone is really easy to get along with.  I feel lucky to work on such beautiful machinery too.  The radio telescopes (imagine large satellite dishes) are at the cutting edge of all technology involved and I’m in awe the more I learn about them.

I will leave it at that for tonight.  I promise I’ll take some pic’s just as soon as I learn whats safe to take pics of (proprietary technology, can’t let any secrets out.)  I’ll talk more about what its like to work and live at 10,000 feet in the desert (Mars).  Now its time for bed (I have my own little dorm room suite).


2 Responses to “Working Man”

  1. Bob Says:

    Well….I think you have captured the essence of the place. I still feel as though you have taken advantage of a frightening but wonderful opportunity.

    I hope to see you in Chile before too much longer but I will be here and available by phone & email as well as via Skype if you need me.

    Take care and enjoy yourself! Bob

  2. Alan Harris Says:

    Hi Derek
    I hope your dad is saving all your travelogues to compile into a book for the future.
    When I read of the places you have visited it takes me back to my schooldays of too many years ago.
    Back then South America conjured up visions of Cortez and his conquistadors invading Mexico and being served chocolatl (Chocolate drink) from golden goblets by Emperor Montezuma.
    Then the Spanish destruction of the Inca empire and their search for el Dorado.
    Leaving school South America was all but forgotten as problems in Europe,Africa and the Far East
    tended to bring a new geography to the fore. Peace again for a while, except for a minor skirmish on the Falkland Isles and so Chile, Ecuador, Brazil Argentine et al became distant lands with our main interest being our very good friends and family to the north of the Rio Grande.
    So it is most refreshing to follow your explorations and I hope one day you find your el Dorado.
    My very best as always
    Alan (aka Unc Al)

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