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Concon, Chile: A Sun-Drenched Seaside Resort Town

Concón Chile

Concón Chile

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When my friend Ernesto invited me over for lunch to his family’s condo in a place called Concón, a bedroom resort town a few kilometres outside Viña Del Mar (a city just 9 km from where I live in Valparaíso, Chile), I had no idea of the splendor in store for me.

No wonder this stretch on the seaside has been developed into such an upscale beachside resort town. The view is absolutely glorious when the sun shines, which is often. Ernesto’s condo overlooks miles of sparkling dark blue waves crashing up against a dramatic rocky coastline; it’s quite breathtaking.

Because it was Chile’s Bicentennial that weekend (Sept 18, 2010), it was a great excuse to celebrate lunch with champagne (from Chile, of course) and feast on huge empanadas, the traditional food for this anniversary weekend.

The seafood filled empanadas from Concón, lightly deep-fried until crispy golden cheesy bubbling perfection, are quite famous. The empanada filling of ‘Loco queso’ was my favorite. This doesn’t translate to mean ‘crazy cheese’ like you might think. Locos are a type of shellfish that are extremely rare, but popular worldwide, harvested to the point of extinction until a recent preservation campaign kicked in and recently revived their numbers. The locals are loco for locos (groan), but eating them doesn’t make you any more crazy than you already are. Locos are quite popular, and snapped up quickly when available at the local fish markets, despite the steep price.

Other empanadas for our feast, all wrapped neatly inside brown paper tied with string included cheese with shrimp, crab and cheese, and cheese and ‘macha‘ (razor shell clam).

After a sundrenched afternoon on the deck and in the living room (also lined with windows) muching empanadas, sipping cold drinks and having a great visit, we took a long walk along the rocky coastline.

It was the perfect time to go for a stroll. We passed a man selling intricately constructed old fashioned covered wagon ornaments, and a restaurant built around a rocky cliff, encircling a rocky spire that had been left just as it was, jutting straight up through the floor and out through the ceiling. Further along the road we came to a series of lookouts.

The sunset was spectacular, illuminating the dark waves, rocky crevasses, and the carpet of tough, cactus-like tubal vegetation clinging to the coastline, as well as the silky smooth sand dunes beyond.

What a great weekend getaway. It’s hard to believe that it took less than 45 minutes of driving to get to this modern, peaceful oasis. It felt like we were a million miles away from anything, and light years from the ancient faded grandeur of Valparaíso.

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