Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Horse

Horse in town - in front of Erratic Rock
Clos snacking in the backyard
I bought a horse today.  $250,000 Chilean Pesos, or ~$500 US Dollars.  I am thrilled :)  He still needs a name.  I road him into Puerto Natales today and we took pictures in front of the hostel I always stay at: Erratic Rock (erraticrock.com).  My new friend (I'm not sure if he knows that yet!) is currently eating in the backyard of a friend of mine while tied to a fence.  Tomorrow I'll ride him ~55 miles out to Rio Serrano, where he'll spend at least the next month with me before (hopefully) heading out on more adventures.  I am also including a video from a recent trip to Balmaceda with this post.  More later!  Love, Andria
video

Strike and Life Update in Patagonia

Hey all!

Just wanted to give you an update on what's been happening down here.

First off, the strike ended last week!  Wahoo!  So after living off of just meat from the cows in the field, and rice (we even ran out of potatoes!) it felt luxurious to come down to town and eat things like yogurt, apples, and zucchini.  We had all been planning on coming down to town the day the strike ended, so we were living off of about 1.5 weeks worth of food for almost 3 weeks.  Quite the adventure.

As far as what the strike accomplished for the Chileans, it was generally a success. 

1)  Instead of raising gas by 17%, they will raise it by 3%, and then re-evaluate in 10 months.  Gas is really important in this region because with only 4 months of "summer" (which isn't even very warm...) and monthly wages starting at $350/mo., if gas goes up, general living costs increase exponentially, when the price of things such as food and clothing also go up in price. 
2)  The rest of Chile, and the government, understands the power of the people in this region.  There are 12 "regions" (think states) in Chile.  Region I starts at the top, until Region XII (where I am, the last region).  Region XII is also called Magallanes, and they have their own flag.  They are also the only region with a flag (think "Texan pride" here).  What has happened in the past is that this region, that is the farthest away from Santiago and the least populated, is often forgotten about and left out.  As someone here described it to me, "Chiloe is Chiloe (an island off of Chile), Magallanes is Magallanes, and Chile is everything North of Patagonia."  There has definitely been some resentment building up between the people from here against Northern Chile, but hopefully the Chilean government will be more aware of concerns down here from here on out.

Even though the strike was a huge inconvenience for tourists (the news article that I sent previously was a bit extreme, but I couldn't find anything more moderate), the people from this region are content with how things turned out.  I think I have to defer to them in regards to the success or non-success of this.

I am enjoying very much my switch in jobs from where I was when I first came down, to the people I am now working with closer to Torres del Paine National Park.  I've had to chance to see some beautiful country, and hope to see more...

In other news, yesterday I bought a horse!  A "manso" (trained) horse here runs about $500 while the same horse in the US would easily be $1500+.  Small steps towards potentially riding around Patagonia for a while starting in March before returning home.  I didn't get a chance to snap a picture of the new horse (currently needs a name), but I will get one sent out soon!  It's apparently as easy to sell, as to buy (which was not very complicated) a horse down here.

Well, I hope you all are well.  Stay warm in the North!  Days are already noticeably shorter here than a month ago.  Spring is heading your way, and we are slowly walking towards fall.

:)  Andria

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back in Patagonia

Riding on the "beach" on Christmas day
I am back in the Chilean Patagonia 7 short months after leaving the first time.  However, this time, I'm back for the season.  I don't know what it is about this place, but some part of my soul connects here.  Between the inhospitable weather, and often relentless wind, the blue-grey of hanging glaciers, nameless lakes and rivers, and the open yellow-gold of the pampa grass between glacier-capped mountains, I have found a space I love.  I will certainly travel other places, but I will always return to the Patagonia.  It's good to be back :)

Horses saddled for a ride
I came down to work with a couple near the town of Puerto Natales.  They were great people, incredibly knowledgeable of the region, but there didn't end up being enough work with horses for both of us to be happy.  Myself, because I wanted to ride more, and them, because they needed more rides to justify my salary.  After two months working near the city, I went out to spend a week or two with some friends in Rio Serrano near one of the entrances of Torres del Paine National Park.  What started as 1-2 weeks has continued to 6+ a the moment.  I am enjoying the freedom of the open spaces near the park, and incredible views all day long.  My general thoughts are to stay around this area until the end of March, and then strike out, on horseback, looking for something else.