Carmen y Perucho

When we were in Chile two years ago we went in search of mining ghost towns.
The Atacama desert is rich in nitrate. Before artificial nitrate was invented, it was a boom time for nitrate mining; round the clock shifts. As I understand, that would mean two or three shifts a day. As most of these mines were located in the middle of the Atacama, the mining companies were forced to create company towns to house their workers.
However, once artificial nitrate was invented, and a little later, as automation in mining expanded, demand for nitrate miners dropped. The companies essentially shuttered their employee towns. I’m not sure if you knew this or not, but the Atacama is one of the driest places on earth. Without humidity or water, these abandoned towns have weathered extraordinarily well.
A walk around one of the bigger ghost towns, Pedro de Valdivia, was both fascinating and a little erie. Although the town had been shuttered, there were still signs of the life of the old town everywhere. Tables, dolls, bikes . . .
The town of Pedro de Valdivia is located about a 10 minute walk from the (still functioning nitrate mine), and about a 10 min bus ride from the remaining company town, Maria Elena. We ended up meeting a miner on his way home. He had been born in Pedro de Valdivia, but now lived in Maria Elena. He gave us a short tour of the town, showing us where he was born. He took us to the main square of the town; here music from the old Pedro de Valdivia radio station still plays ’round the clock. Like I said, a little Mary Celeste, a little erie.
If you want to see where Pedro de Valdivia is, follow the google maps link below.
This row of doors and the simple graffiti caught my eye.

Pedro de Valdivia

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