A Hard Lesson Learned in Concepcion, Chile

Don’t build on the beach near a fault line that has caused a massive earthquake and tsunami every twenty-five years since the beginning of recorded history.

Related: Don’t build below the sea level near the sea in a hurricane zone.


I learned this valuable lesson near Concepcion, Chile. My friend Catalina was playing host and took me to the coastal city of Talcahuano. Catalina explained to me that Talcahuano was on top of the faultline between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates and was overdue for a tsunami. The last had hit in 2010 and left much of the city destroyed, but the developers had returned and Talcahuano was full of new buildings. I asked Catalina why. La gente aquí es boba,” the people here are silly, she explained. “There is always a race to finish building a house here and then sell it to someone naive before the next earthquake hits. This cycle never stops.”

Talking about the naive people who buy property in a tsunami zone while standing over the faultline that causes the tsunamis seemed to be tempting fate, so we grabbed some empanadas, baked Chilean pastries typically filled with meat, then took pictures of the buildings built next to tsunami warning signs and went back to Concepciòn.

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