San Vicente de Tagua Tagua
At the town of Pelequén, about 20 kilometers north of San Fernando on the Panamericana, the outstanding landmark is the sparkling copper dome of the Iglesia y Santuario de Santa Rosa de Lima, site of an annual festival for its patron saint every August 30. From here, a paved two-lane road heads west along the valley of the Estero Zamorano, a Río Cachapoal tributary, to the town of San Vicente de Tagua Tagua.
Regional authorities are promoting this area as the Ruta Huasa, a repository of peasant tradition. In the cultural landscape, the object of interest is the succession of traditional azudas (waterwheels), which lift water from the river and divert it through wooden canaletas (flumes or chutes) to the fields.
Mostly in the vicinity of Larmahue, these Muslim-style structures date from colonial times. Measuring 6–8 meters in diameter, fitted with 16–32 wooden spokes of poplar, roble, raulí, or eucalyptus, they need frequent repairs but are cheaper to operate than gasoline-powered pumps. Of the several dozen in the area, 17 of the older ones are national monuments; unfortunately, for photographers at least, some farmers have found it expedient to replace rotting wooden buckets with cheaper plastic milk cartons to draw water from the river.
At San Vicente itself, Hostería San Vicente de Tagua Tagua (Diego Portales 222, tel. 072/571336, fax 072/572062, andreacornejo [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$38/52 with breakfast) provides accommodations.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition