Archive for March, 2018


 

Okay, I know many of you all are asking what happened to our Bolivia and Chile post. Well never fear, I’ll certainly get around to posting them. Truth be told we spent many days in Bolivia as well as a few in Chile with no access to wifi, blame it on the desert. Or, when we did have wifi, it certainly wasn’t strong enough to publish stories or upload photos. So here we are in Argentina playing catch up. Trust me it’s been a interesting times to get to this point. So without further ado, I’ll pick up the story from here.

Ruta 60 from Chile to Mendoza Argentina threw everything at us. Long dark tunnels, almost 30 switchbacks with hairpin curves, steep climbs and descents with no guard rails, but spectacular scenery. Finally reaching the Argentina border was a relief. Would we do it again? Absolutely!

Again, thanks for following and in a few days or so, I’ll post on our adventure through Bolivia and Chile.

Thanks

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A ghost town begins.

1924 , the Lautaro Nitrate Company Ltd., Chacabuco soon fell into ruin as the nitrate mining boom in Chile came to an abrupt halt at the end of the 1930s. Synthetic nitrate had been invented in Germany at the turn of the 20th century and by the 1930s and 40s had severely crippled northern Chile’s nitrate industry. What had accounted for virtually 50% of Chile’s Gross National Product fell to almost zero within a few decades. A total of 170 nitrate towns were shut down throughout Chile’s Atacama Desert. Chacabuco stands as a testament to those times.

“Concentration camp history”

In 1971, president Salvador Allende declared Chacabuco a Historic Monument of Chile, at which point restoration began. But in 1973, after the military coup, Pinochet turned it into a concentration camp until the end of 1974.  As a concentration camp, it held up to 1,800 prisoners many of whom were doctors, lawyers, artists, writers, professors and workers from all over Chile.

Chacabuco today

By the 1990s, Chacabuco was in need of extensive restoration and several international organizations began the restoration of parts of Chacabuco. In 1991, a former political prisoner of Chacabuco, Roberto Saldívar, returned to Chacabuco in order to live in the abandoned town and guard it against vandalism and pillaging. He lived there almost completely alone until January 2006. Pedro Barreda replaced Roberto when he left as caretaker of Chacabuco. Currently living in Chacabuco alone, Pedro considers himself to be Roberto’s apprentice and remains dedicated to the cause Roberto started.

We spent most of the day at Chacabuco exploring the ruins and imagining what it must have been like back in the day. Didn’t hang around to long before it got dark and you can imagine why.