Really Alone in Patagonia

ksm20170110-solitude-01The estancias on the Peninsula Valdes are managed by gauchos who lead very solitary lives: the land doesn’t even support as may sheep per hectare as usual in other areas.

Here are some of the notes I took when our guide was telling us about Patagonian gauchos who live on the peninsula.

The gauchos lead very solitary lives. Cell phone signals do not reach very far onto the peninsula and there are no land lines. There is no way for outbound communication. For inbound communication there is a local AM radio station that has a regular weekly time slot for messages to the gauchos. These can be quite varied, from an owner saying “Bring the sheep to market on Friday”, to a wife saying “The kids have chicken pox” or “Not coming back. Goodbye.” The social scene is two gauchos on neighboring properties meeting regularly at a shared boundary to drink Yerba Mate. If one doesn’t show up then the other will go looking to see if something’s wrong.

The solitude is a reason why they favor Mara, commonly called “Patagonian hare”. They teach their dogs not to bother the animals and it is one of the few that they do not eat. We were told that the Mara often live close to the farmhouses. Mara are related to guinea pigs, but much much larger. I couldn’t spot these at first because I was looking for much smaller animals. These must have been about 3 feet high.


Published in response to the Daily Press Photo Challenge: Solitude

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