About one hour away from one of the biggest cities in the north of Chile, you can find an amazing place that is full of history and with a lot of energy while still being in full contact with the human soul.
I’m always searching for new places to visit. A lot of times, I choose the beach, but in some cases, I always try to explore and find new things in the Atacama Desert. Imagine, the sunset over the dunes with mountains all in different colors, the sky so near, and the uncontaminated air. And everything under the pleasant sun, in the driest desert in the whole world.
About the end of the XIX century, this place was the center of a war, called the “Pacific War”. Near to the frontier with Perú and Bolivia, the Atacama Desert is a place rich in saltpeter, and the poor marking and badly established limits were the beginning of a fight for the saltpeter. So, people from all over the country left their cities, and went to the many different saltpeter’s offices, most of them today abandoned, searching for a better life.
There are mainly two offices who are famous in the Tamarugal Pampa, because they are the only places where natural saltpeter were extracted in an industrial scale. Now they are part of a humanity patrimony; to visit it take a trip from Iquique, the main city in the Tarapacá region, which is about 47 kilometers away.
The first impressions you’ll get is “this is such an incredible place”. In the middle of the desert, the only thing you hear is the wind blowing over the roof of the abandoned houses. Can you imagine that some years ago there were a lot of people running from their houses to their offices; a lot of children playing soccer under the sun without any shade because there are no big trees; women going to the local market to buy something to prepare their meals; the crowds in the church; the saloons and brothels at night with Charleston music, because this was one the first places in Chile with electricity. But today there are only memories left. Only dust that consumes everything. A lot of loneliness. But if you’re there, standing quiet, in silence, maybe you’ll hear the voices of the people in the theater, or maybe some steps in the balcony of the church. Too much energy going on there, like a ghost town.