Masato Ishiguro
Professor emeritus at NAOJ
Former ALMA-J Project Director
Former JAO international staff
(at the time of writing)

June 2008
・ALMA Construction Site -1-
July 2008
・Scenery around the ALMA Office
August 2008
・ALMA Construction Site -2-
September 2008
・Trees and Flowers in Santiago -1-
October 2008
・Trees and Flowers in Santiago -2-
November 2008
・Clouds Seen in the Atacama Desert
December 2008
・The Dog that Trots about Finds…
January 2009
・ALMA Construction Site -3-
February 2009
・Memories of the Atacama Desert
March 2009
・Chile from North to South


Scenery around the ALMA Office

This time, I will write about the scenery around the ALMA Office in Santiago. The present ALMA office is temporarily in a two buildings until the permanent ALMA Office is established within the ESO's facilities in Santiago. Photo 1 shows the main office (El Golf Office) located on the 18th floor in a 19-story building. In this office, about 30 people are working including ALMA Project Director, Project Manager, and Head of Administration, as well as four Japanese members, Tetsuo Hasegawa (Provisional Project Manager); Ryusuke Ogasawara (ALMA-J representative in Chile); Bungo Ikenoue (Santiago Head Office staff); and Jorge Tabe (Santiago Head Office staff).

ALMA main office
Photo 1: ALMA main office building seen from the elevator of the Alsacia Office. The Embassy of Spain (with a brown roof) is between the two offices.

My office is on the 19th floor of a 20-story building (Alsacia office) which is located right across the Embassy of Spain from the El Golf building. About 40 people are working at the Alsacia office including scientists and engineers responsible for the installation of the ALMA components, but the number of workers at the office is usually only about one-thirds of them because they are working on site by rotation at the ALMA construction sites in the Atacama Desert, as I wrote about it in the previous report. Around here, high-rise glassed buildings are in fashion (the El Golf building is one of them), and many nearby buildings under construction are in the same style. Glassed high-rise buildings are apparently smart and stylish, but while looking outside the window, I am afraid that they would be broken at the time of an earthquake. In the winter season, we cannot command a panoramic view of the city due to notorious Santiago smog, but this winter we can see the snow-capped Andes mountains very clearly thanks to frequent rainfalls.

Andes mountains
Photo 2: Andes mountains seen from the window of the Alsacia office

In the city of Santiago, many trees are planted along the streets, and they block strong sunshine in summer. Though we have little rain in the summer season, the trees are growing energetically and I am amazed by their height and thick trunks. I think this is because the soil has abundant snow-melting water from the Andes and the people like to water the street plants. As the Alsacia office is an about 20-munute walk from my apartment, I sometimes go a long way around to see trees and flowers that I have never seen before. When I lived in Tokyo, I used to go to work walking along Nogawa River from Chofu to NAOJ (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan). Compared to the Nogawa River, I feel a little "man-made naturalness" in the plants on the Santiago streets; having said that, I have some my favorite streets for jogging and walking, and one of them is Pocuro Avenue (Photo 3). On this well-designed street with three separate roads for automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians, people can enjoy cycling, walking, and jogging very comfortably. Every weekend I am running about 5 km along Pocuro Avenue hoping that the Japanese government will also use the revenue for road construction to build such user-friendly roads as this.

Av. Pocuro
Photo 3: Av. Pocuro with three separate roads for cars, bicycles, and pedestrians.

At first, when I began to live in Santiago, I was taking a long way to my office to learn the streets. As I tried to choose a different route everyday, I could quickly learn the map of Santiago. The major public transportation system of Santiago is subway and bus. The subway and bus fares are paid by a card, and we can make connections between subway and bus with a card. As they adopt uniform fare rate system, we can go to the next station or to the terminal station at the same rate. Furthermore, there is no station staff at the ticket gate. I feel culture difference with this very simple system compared to the detail-oriented Japanese transportation system. 。

The article above is an excerpt from our in-house magazine NAOJ NEWS. This article is reproduced and posted on this site with the approval of the copyright owner NAOJ. The contents of this site may not be reproduced, transmitted, published, distributed, or translated without permission from NAOJ.

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