Fitzroya cupressoides is a tall, long lived evergreen tree. Also called Alerce, the forests covered large areas of the Chilean Andes. Alerce wood was the principle source of Colonial commerce between Chile and Peru and was heavily logged in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Alerce lumber was used to build, in 1889, the Municipal Theater on Auturo Prat plaza. Today the theater offers performances and hosts a School of Ballet.
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The legend of the theater includes the actress Sarah Bernhardt. After Iquique booked her performance Barnhardt’s uncharitable comments about the low quality of the venue (“It was a shed”) embarrassed the powers that be, who released their wealth to fund this late 19th century building from the height of saltpeter prosperity.
We turn east here, toward the desert escarpment. Here is a young family out for a bike ride. Interesting sign of local cuisine.
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