Concepcion

ihana.com - big trip - diary - chile - april 2003

Lebu

Oxes getting some nosebag

Wicked

Tuesday 1 - Wednesday 2 April

After a few of hours tarmac driving northwards up route 5, a change of scene was required so we took a left towards Concepcion, Chile's second city. Along this part of the coast are supposed to be some nice beaches but by the time we reached the coastal town of Lebu the sun was setting fast. The town itself wasn't much to write home about, plenty of dodgy characters and falling down wooden shacks, so we kept on going out the other side. The ripio (gravel) road passed along the clifftops through commercial forests, the occasional open field allowing views across the Pacific. We stopped at one such field to admire the beautiful sunset with some local campesinos who were also happy to let us camp there for the night.

The morning saw us clean out the air filter, change the fuel filter and clean out the fuel sedimenter. Forgetting to prime the injector pump afterwards led to a few minutes worry as the landy wouldn't start but soon we were under way.

Huascar

The helm

At the other side of Concepcion is Talcahuano, the major port of the Chilean navy. The port also houses the Huascar, an ironclad captured from the Peruvian navy. Chilean naval hero Arturo Prat took on the vessel with two wooden ships in the battle to capture it. Outnumbered and outgunned, his rammed ship sinking rapidly, Arturo boarded the Huascar but was slain on deck, the iron ship only being captured in another battle some years later.

Arturo ended life as a Prat here

Para for good

Officers dining room

Access to the ship is by raft, rope-pulled across from a pier to the ship by a couple of naval grunts who salute the tourists on and off the platform. The ship itself is kept clean and shiny with red paint marking the spots where holes were made during various battles. The engines are all painted over and the big forward guns don't appear on the original schematics displayed on the wall below deck. The officers dining room is flanked by small cabins, some with an uncomfortable looking vent pipe passing through the middle of the already short bunk.

Fresh batch of stray dogs

Key cutting

Exiting the naval base we set course for Santiago, passing the rest of an uneventful day going north on route 5 before heaving-to behind a petrol station for the night.

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