C a m i ñ a
Luis González Zenteno
Church of the village of Camiña
THE LEGEND OF NITRATE
With respect to nitrate there is the strange tradition of the priest of Camiña, a district of the department of Tarapacá, 150 km. distant from Pisagua.
It is said that two natives, after a wearying day of work, camped in a place and made a fire. Great was their surprise when they saw that the earth commenced to burn. The natives, full of fear, ran away terrified and went to the Priest of Camiña to confess and tell him what they had seen, work of the devil, no doubt.
It is added that the priest returned with the natives, taking a provision of blessed water; and after exploring the land, he made some analyses of the earth he had gathered and found that the samples had Potassium Nitrate, that was used for the fabrication of gunpowder. The rest of the samples were deposited in the garden of the priest's house; and great was the surprise of the Priest of Camiña when he noted, later, that the plants that existed there started to develop in an extraordinary way!
The priest repeated the use of the caliche, which is the name of the raw material of nitrate, applying it to his crops, the vegetable orchards etc. and when he saw the marvel of the vegetation, he stated that it was a providential tonic for the land recommending it to the parishioners as a fertilizer".
|From: Roberto Hernández C. El Salitre.
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