Ilo and a new place to call home
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

May 3, 2015

Ilo is a town that has the small town atmosphere yet still bigger than one would expect. With almost 100,000 people, it sits on the southern coast of Peru, a few hundred kilometers north of Chile. I have yet to explore large areas around Ilo, but there seems to be really only two options of going north or south as going east puts one quickly into the foothills of the Andes, surrounded by sand and rock. Located just north of the Atacama, the driest place in the world, driving out of Ilo quickly gives way to the coastal desert. Mostly baize in color, streaks of reds, oranges, and white make appearances in the rock and open sandscape. It is a dry place. A river flows from the Andes out towards sea through Ilo, but seems comparable to that of my creek back home, the Santa Fe River.

The small town feeling prevails through the low buildings and central plaza. No grocery stores are to be found but a series of small markets and fruit stands fill the gap. A few dozen artisanal fishing boats dot the port, rising and falling with each passing wave. Although small, industry is still here in a big way. Southern Copper, the largest mining conglomerate in the world out of Mexico, has two mines south of Ilo with a dedicated rail line through Ilo to the north of the town where their refinery and smelter are located. Trains rumble through town each day to and fro carrying raw ore, fuel, and chemicals to process the materials. Just south of Ilo, a 500 MW coal-fired power plant operates to provide the needed power for Southern Copper, as well as the town. I hear they are changing it over to gas due to huge influx of gas on the market, thanks to the environmental disaster called fracking. A couple of oil tankers are lining up and sit anchored off the coast, waiting for the waves to die down so that they may make landfall and offload their oil.

With all the use of energy here, it is amazing to feel the warmth of the sun on my back, the wind on my face coming off the ocean, and watch as two-meter waves crash up and down the coast for hundreds of kilometers in both directions. All I see is clean energy and yet the infrastructure of fossil fuels everywhere.

Ideally, within the next two months, we’ll be able to deploy our demonstration wave energy system off the coast here and begin to show, if all but the beginnings, the potential of just one of these clean energy sources. Who knows, maybe one day the oil tankers will stop arriving and the power plant will work to collect dust. That would be ideal. There is much to do and looking around the empty house I just moved into, I wonder how long I will call this new place home.

Related Articles

A Brave New World – The arrival of AI through flow of logic

A Brave New World – The arrival of AI through flow of logic

A Brave New World was written by Aldous Huxley and discusses just how a technological future might look like for earthlings. It sits atop a list of other noted books including 1984 (George Orwell) and The Foundation Series (Isaac Asimov) which eerily predict the...

Sphere of influence – the expanding/collapsible bubble

Sphere of influence – the expanding/collapsible bubble

Those who have known me for a while have heard occasionally about efforts to bring to market ocean wave driven pumps. Since 2009, I have been involved in the development of sustainable wave energy in some form or another. I still consult on the projects from time to...

The Ecosystem Engineer

The Ecosystem Engineer

Earlier this summer I went on a camping trip with my family. We drove up from New Mexico to Silverton Colorado and took the steam train down towards Durango. A ways down the canyon on the Animas River, we got off and spent two days camping along the river. It was...

Stay Up to Date by Following Us on Instagram

Follow Us

Be the first to see what’s new, workshop announcements, and yurt life on Poncha Pass.

Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Summer 2023 flyer earthship workshop
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Spring 2023 Workshop group eating out


Come stay if you are looking for a peaceful and comfortable place to hang your hat while relaxing and adventuring around in nature. And after adventuring don’t forget to regenerate at a cellular level with our wood-burning sauna and cold plunge tub, immersed in good old fashioned nature therapy.