Humberstone, the Ghost Town

We left Arica and the girls on Sunday the 2nd morning, heading to Humberstone, the Ghost town. It was a sad goodbye as Silviu had been giving them awesome massages over the past 3 days, so they would have of course enjoyed some more of that :). We had to move though, and after stopping for an hour in the middle of the desert for some unknown reason, and enjoying the view of absolute nothing (except for sand, sand and more sand) for the whole ride, we made it to Humberstone 4 hr after getting on the bus.

The place was even more deserted than we had expected, to the extent that even the ticket guy was nowhere in sight. ‘It’s ok, you pay when you come out’, said the security guy we left out backpacks with. Oh..k then…

Humberstone was built by the British in the 1870s (although it only got this name in 1934) in a caliche exploitation zone in the Atacama Desert, during the times when saltpeter (sodium nitrate) was being used as a fertilizer. It did so well that during a certain period it was considered the most advanced town of the region.

During the Great Depression demand dropped considerably, and with the sinthetic fertilizers being invented by the Germans, interest in saltpeter was lost. The city was completely abandoned by 1960, and in 2005 it was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We spent a few hours walking through the small town and were amazed at how well kept some of the structures were. The houses, school, swimming pool, market place and theater were intact, and the church looked like it was still being used today.

In the theater Boca had the chance to display her special ballet talent, to the delight of a small kind who was passing by and accidentally caught glimpse of the performance. The shocked look on his face was priceless!!

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