The seaside town of Balneario Flamenco (which locals simply call Flamenco, meaning “Flamingo”). In this town, squatters come to stake their land claims, living in shanty homes with no electricity or running water. The rent is only 80,000 pesos to 150,000 pesos per month (US$147 to US$276), making it an attractive retirement area for Chileans in the lower classes who have a generator. And ownership is possible as soon as the government maps out the subdivision. The hitchhikers who rode with me live in the town and provided this information.
A little further down the road is this specialized port (seen in the distance) used to load iron ore mined in the area onto ships, and evidently transported to the port by means of a specialized piping system:
Another squatter’s town just north of Rodillo (near Caldera) is seen below, where the Chilean government encourages people to stake out a spot in the sand, erect a structure, and wait for the government to apportion it and bring in utilities. Apparently the land so “developed” by an occupant can be purchased for a mere 900 pesos (US$1.65) per square meter (which is 10 square feet). If my calculations are correct, a 50 square meter lot (165 feet by 165 feet) would only cost about $275.
It seems to me that it would be worthwhile to consult with a Chilean attorney to see who can buy a parcel (e.g., foreigners, permanent residents, or only citizens and, if so, from which social classes) and if it is worth doing. One should also find out the cost of the little cabin he needs to erect in order to reserve the land when it is finally deeded. Next down the coast, the town of Rodillo is seen in the distance:
Ramada beach lies just between Rodillo and Caldera off Ruta 5 norte. The government signage indicates that this is an area where people can erect structures on the land and eventually buy it cheaply (as mentioned before). The beach is a nice cove, apt for swimming and sunbathing. No doubt, the government would like to see this area begin to develop.
The best part of the area is clearly Bahia Inglesa, a small resort town just 4 miles south of Caldera and about 40 miles west of Copiapó. This town has great airport access from Santiago at least (being much closer to the Copiapó airport than Copiapó itself).
And this one in particular had the best fish dinner I can remember having in my life! For about US$19 including tip, I got the great view, along with three delicious varieties of (local) Rock Fish (Rollizo, Cabrilla and Viela Gallo) and all the fixings. (Lunch was not cheap, but it was my only meal of the day, and the experience was worthwhile!)