The 1907 Iquique Massacre and my continued awe of the world wide web!

In La Serena, Chile, we found this attractive looking memorial and were interested to see it was in memory of a massacre on 21-12-1907 (it happened to be 100 years to the day before Lara was born) of workers, women and children at a school in Iquique, further north between La Serena and Arica where Erika had visited. We wondered why it was here in La Serena and what happened?

The Iquique Massacre memorial in La Serena

The Iquique Massacre memorial in La Serena

We made a mental note, took the photo and planned to Google it.
It was only recently when sorting photos for my La Serena blog that I noticed it again and finally Googled it… Here’s what I love about the internet being so readily available to us on our family gap year … aside from critical daily use to plan our trip, find accommodation, check reviews of places, tour companies and activities… It’s amazing how it helps our road schooling/world schooling come alive and adds facts and colour to our curiosity. Our frequent answer to many of the kids questions is ‘hmm! Lets Google it!’

Thank you Google and thank you Wikipedia that I can answer pretty much anything and even find out why there’s a demonstration happening today in xxxville, check out more about the local politics, historical sites, find out almost anything about a place I’m visiting …

We’ve taken to making a list of said questions for Google when we have access to wifi and the Internet… most recently;

‘How are tornadoes caused?’

‘Would all chicken eggs grow into chickens if we didn’t eat them?’

‘What makes a third world country a third world country? So which countries have we visited that are third world countries? And is there a second world?’

‘If I shot a gun straight into the air, does the bullet just carry on?’ (ok so we didn’t need Google to tell us this answer was no but it was a great example of a question that turns into a science lesson with all the information we need at the click of a ‘search’ button!)

As adults we take a lot for granted and I love that the kids make me think and look for more information with their questions! We’ve found fabulous videos on YouTube to help explain tornadoes, latitude and longitude and not to mention Google Earth and National Geographic’s World Atlas app which lets you look at the globe and spin it around, giving context to our journey, letting the kids see where we are and where we’ve been and understand future plans!

Credit to The Lonely Planet books too. They were all I had to survive my first gap year adventure in 1992, long before kids and long before days of Google or Wiki. Always a big toll on luggage weight, you’d only carry one for the country you were in and try to trade at the borders with travellers going the other way! We’d rarely book anywhere to stay before we arrived in a place. Booking (just) ahead nowadays via email and booking engines, using Google Translate to help interact in any language is a luxury I appreciate every day. Today I can carry several kindle volumes at once on my iPod and the most recent versions now have multiple live links to maps, websites and supplementary info and reviews on their sister forum ‘Thorn Tree’ – brilliant!

I digress… Back to Iquique 1907… following decades of unrest and uprisings known as the ‘social question’ there was a massive gathering in Iquique of striking workers from nitrate mines coming from all over the country, supported by other workers and many bringing their families. The government demanded that they disperse and when they didn’t, they first shot the negotiators and then opened fire on the masses killing over 2000 more men, women and children – the details and the death toll was kept quiet and the bodies buried in a mass grave.

So this is why there are memorials in different cities across Chile. It was an event of national significance. Visiting this beautiful country that stretches down the western edge of South America and today is easily the most progressive and ‘first world’ country in the continent, it’s hard to imagine it’s troubled past including the Pinochet military dictatorship till as recent as 1990. And this provides me with lots more reading on Wikipedia!

 Luckily Zoe saw the funny side!

Luckily Zoe saw the funny side!

On a lighter note, Google doesn’t always get it quite right though!! When Ben and I were trying to find the name of an unusual rodent in Paraguay zoo for his Iguazu post, he searched for ‘itaipu zoo animal rodents’, scrolled through the images and found this image of his sister!! We’re still puzzling this one!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tracey - Life Changing Year
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 23:31:41

    What a striking monument! I would have been keen to know what it meant too! You’re right about Google being such a fabulous tool. And I’m amused that you didn’t quite get the search results you were looking for! (But we all secretly get a little thrill when we come up in a Google search don’t we?) It’s my one big fear about homeschooling though. What if Google tells me rubbish and I teach it to my kid as fact?


    • Mo
      Jun 18, 2013 @ 02:48:22

      Hi Tracey, ha – it was a first for us – typical that it should be searching for rodent but in spite of that, I suppose I must admit it was still a bit of a secret thrill for me between the giggles! But surely, Google doesn’t tell us any rubbish does it ?! So we had a debate about how many French Polynesian islands there are last week as Zoe wanted to write it in her postcard – the back of Ben’s postcard said 116, Wiki and Ask say ‘about’ or ‘approximately’ 130 ….. can no-one just count them? This bothered Zoe much more than Google thinking she was a rodent! That said, I have plenty of other bigger fears about our home/roadschooling than what Google tells us:)


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