Concepción, Chile's Second-Largest CityMay 17 in Chile ⋅ 🌙 50 °F
Concepción was recommended to me by two of her native sons, the Orellana brothers, my friends in Castro, Chiloé. After their promise of many places to see, as well as a contact number for their mother, off I went. It is a modern city on the banks of the Bío Bío River, rebuilt many times, first because of destruction by the marvelously brave original inhabitants of the land, the Mapuche people, and then by numerous earthquakes and tsunamis. Concepción also had trouble gaining independence from Spain in the early 1800´s, due to the powerful and numerous pro-Spain royalists. Nowadays, the buildings are government-sanctioned earthquake-proofed, there are evacuation routes from tsunamis, and a feeling—for me, at least—of some stability. That is helped by the fact that there are many public and private universities and technical colleges, and a student population that is both progressive and studious—mostly. For more information about the city and the war for independence, here are two articles:
I took a one-day outing to Lota in order to descend into a Dickensian coal mine named “Chiflón del Diablo (I translate it as “The Breath of the Devil”) which was closed recently—in 1999. Roberto, our guide, was a miner there, and at my queries before the other two people in our group joined us, gave me a corporeal tour of his many injuries. Quite a scary place is this mine, and aside from a guard rail and many closed-off sections, there is nothing touristy about it. During my visit I prayed for NO EARTHQUAKE.
Most of the time I walked around the city during the day, visiting the library, a gallery of dioramas by Rudolfo Gutierrez, the Pinoteca of the Universidad de Concepción, Parque Ecuador, and student haunts. I also attended a documentary film on campus (U de C) about seaweed forests off the coasts of Patagonia, close to where I just had been. All very interesting, and certainly different from other places of my trip so far.
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