By sitting in the lounge/kitchen area most nights I have come to be at least recognized by my hostelmates. Many of them are here looking for an apartment or just working and so have either already spent a few months here and/or will spend several more. So, while many of the travelers come in, sleep for the night, and leave unnoticed, there continues to be a core group of people that come together, learn each other’s languages, swap dialects and tennis lessons, and of course tell stories. On Friday night most people were off from work for the week and looking for something to do. A core group of people were going to a dubfx concert, but the ticket was a little too expensive for someone I had never heard of. Walking from my car back to the hostel I ran into another smaller group on the street, one proudly displayed a coconut he had just bought and sipped serenely from it with a straw. Another girl had just bought a tiny liter of chocolate milk. I asked them if anyone wanted to go to the observatory with me and though I got a few laughs, my roommate of all people was thrilled to come along. We had exchanged conversation briefly before, the simple details of why are you here, where are you from, etc (she is a dancer teaching summer camp and from Montreal) but we hadn’t really hung out. We walked the hour to the observatory discussing the various tourist things we had gone to and what jobs we were applying for in the coming months.
When we got to the observatory, a large telescope sitting neatly beside the science museum, everything was dark. I apologized profusely, knowing I had thoroughly researched the dates and time, but when we tried the door, it magically swung open and we stepped cautiously into an incredibly dark entryway. To the right awfully eerie space music was playing (I don’t know how else to describe it – it wasn’t like electronic and dancey, it felt like it should be the soundtrack for some Deep Space Nine mission). So of course we walked toward the creepy sounds, passed beneath one more doorway, and entered into a room lit by glowing red computer screens and filled with whirring noises of the telescope slewing, the dome above maneuvering, and the human operators grunting at the sight of clouds. Within minutes we were shown an incredibly close view of the moon and the rings of Saturn. We hung out for a while longer, discussing the international space station, the last American shuttle that had launched earlier that morning, and the fact that this was a terrible location for a telescope (lots of rain from the mountains and light pollution). At midnight, the observatory closed up shop and my roommate (why am I so terrible at names?) and I walked back along the water to the hostel.
A day or so later, one of the guys mockingly asked how the planetarium was. My eyes lit up as I responded that it was really awesome and he should have gone. Which of course ushered in the question: “how old are you?” Always ready to defend both my age and interests, I retorted, “Have you ever seen Saturn’s rings?”.