The north of Chile is like no other place in the world; dry, ringed by a coast range of sheer rock and sand. Water is at a premium. This is a harsh and beautiful land, which once belonged to the indigenous people here, but was overtaken long ago by the mining companies.
Antofagasta is ridiculed by Santiguenos who find it ugly. It is a long strip of a city clinging to the coast, but I found it had a stark beauty to it; shifting colors of sand and sea, brightly painted houses and fishing boats. There is a thriving port, hotel industry (all the mining business), and fishing.
But it is a hardscrabble place too, and you have to like the dry and desert colors; because the mines use so much (97%) of the electricity, and the water, it remains expensive. Chile’s trade offs for keeping its economy stable.
After four hours of sleep, I arrived at the University of Antofagasta to immediately begin my seminars; 3 hours, then a tour, then lunch, then a meeting, another seminar until 6 pm. As we drove up the coast toward the airport, the setting sun formed a perfect ball of raging fire in the sky, slashing the horizon with vivid colors.
Wonderful people, energized faculty, and another great adventure under my belt.