Parque Ecuador: gateway to the urban rainforest
Tha main city park is Parque Ecuador, located along 700 metres of Victor Lamas avenue, on the southern flank of the city.
It is 3 blocks from Plaza Independencia, and has several paths leading to the upper trails of Cerro (hill) Caracol.
But if you're not that adventurous, the street-level lawns and shaded places and corners make up for a good and relaxing area to spend some time, or for jogging, reading or cycling. There's also a tennis club, and an arts centre right beside the waterfall.
Concepción: out of the way
"A backwater home of over one million"
Concepcion is the second largest city in Chile after Santiago, with a population of over one million people, spread on what is called the "intercomuna", this is, the merger of the city of Concepción and the main military and industrial port of Talcahuano, plus two smaller former districts of the city.
Concepcion is surrounded by all its sides by either the Bio Bio river -the widest in Chile, 2000 metres in its broadest portion- a cold rainforest or, just 15 kilometres away, the Pacific ocean, which gives it a mild and nice summer climate, but winters of week-long heavy freezing rains and storms, in an evergreen environment. Despite this, Concepcion is rarely visited by tourists -other than university scientists and sailors- because it is not over the Pan American Highway; to reach to Concepcion, a detour from it had to be taken, although now there are 3 modern high-speed highways that link the Pan American route directly to the city.
The city itself and its people is somewhat different to the rest of the people in Chile -maybe as a result of the combination of the city's big size and independence, and its relative "isolation" from the rest of the country and its ways- although they are as welcoming and warm as the rest of the Chileans.
Some foreign travellers will find easy to stay here, as many "penquistas" (name for Concepcion dwellers) speak either English, French or German, because in the 19th century many immigrants from those countries settled here, as a first stop in their way to the deep south...but they stayed forever.
Some people -myself included...- compare Concepcion to Twin Peaks...but this is just a kind of joke, due to the "too perfect" feeling of its streets and some suburbia, and to its wintery climate as well.
But don't worry: David Lynch haven't come here...yet.
Picture taken with a Nikon F4s, Nikkor 20 mm., f.8-11, 1/90 sec., POL filter, Agfa HDC 200 film.
"The Medicine faculty gate"
Perhaps one of the most distinctive sights of Concepcion, this arch on Chacabuco avenue containing part of the Medical Science school of Universidad de Concepcion is a national monument as well, and is one of the "official" entrances to the university campus (although the campus itself is open and built amid gardens, shaded pathways, forested hills and ponds), which is a popular weekend walk for penquistas.
Founded in 1917, the Universidad de Concepcion is the third largest and older university in Chile, and one of the main drives for students and scientists to come to Concepcion. It also has a strong influence in the regional life, and many penquistas are related in one or another way to the University.
Tha main campus is just 5 blocks from the city centre, an on the edge of cerro Caracol (actually, it's separated from it just by a street...), a small mountain range of about 22 kilometres in length (N to S), covered in rainforest and full of wildlife and botanical species.
As a child, I used to explore that range in winter and springtime, just to enjoy the scent of the trees and ground after the rain (or right during it) and to find those countless "hidden" spots where birds nested or copihues (the Chilean national wild flower) grew.
On March 2-5, 2004, the Universidad de Concepcion will host the World Biotechnology Forum; not a surprise, as the University is strong in biological and medical sciences, and in chemistry and Earth sciences as well. In spite of this, it has huge Humanist and Language departments too.
Taken with Nikon F4s, Nikkor 20 mm., f.11, 1/45 sec., POL filter, Agfacolor HDC 200 film.