domingo, 27 de enero de 2008

Escuchando en las Sombras

Aquí estoy, mirando las jinetadas en la sombre de Cerro Castillo. Nos demoramos tres días a llegar en Castillo desde Coyhaique. ¡Pero llegamos con animo y esfuerza! Eso fue las primeras 98 kilómetros de nuestro largo viaje.

Bajamos la Cuesta del Diablo con el viento en las caras quemadas, un dolor en las piernas, y orgullo en los corazones. Llegamos justo con el festival costumbrista acá en Castillo, una de las fiestas más famosa en la Patagonia. Aunque andamos cansados de los primeros días en bici, seguimos grabando todo que vemos en el festival con cariño y energía. Encontramos que la gente quiere conversar con nosotros, y quiere compartir las costumbres de la vida en esta zona. Poco a poco, empezamos a juntar las imagenes y la voz que serán nuestra documental. Bailamos chamamé, tomamos vino, comemos cordero, y escuchamos a las historias de los pobladores.

Como estamos metiéndonos en la cultura, creemos más cada día que vamos a pegarnos en el espíritu del sur. Pero igual entendemos que somos extranjeros y no podemos decir como debería ser el futuro del región. Hemos notado que hay una presencia de gente en contra de las represas acá en Castillo. Hay muchas banderas que dicen "Aysén Sin Represas," y parece que la mayoría están de acuerdo con las banderas. Castillo es una villa que gana mucha del turismo, y muchos mochileros vienen de todas partes para ver el Cerro, los ventisqueros, y la laguna. La gente acá vive sus costumbres como ha mostrado con cariño este fin de semana. Ellos se reflejan la tierra y me parece que no quieran que la cambie. Dijo Robinson, un amigo nuestro que vive en el sector Río Manso, de las represas: " demás."

Con memorias lindas del festival en Castillo, preparamos a seguir viajando. Mañana nos toca el primer día sin pavimento. Aunque lo pasé super bien, espero la tranquilidad de la tierra más al sur, y los momentos preciosos de silencio en la naturaleza. Seguimos escuchando a la gente, para que ustedes sepan como piensan ellos y que quieren por las vidas de sus hijos y los hijos de sus hijos.

A Different Kind of Whirlwind

In a flurry of reassuring good fortune we welcomed the arrival of two crucial elements to our trip on the day before our departure. The first is a solar charger that serves to recharge our camera batteries even when our physical batteries are utterly drained. It straps onto the back of Rob´s bike trailer - which looks more like the caboose of an enormous man-powered locomotive - and was a cause for concern before its last-hour arrival.

The second stroke of luck came from a friendly British fellow (who just may have been an angel) that Rob met in the local bike shop while searching for a few last-minute bike tools. The young chap had just spent a couple weeks in man-powered transit to Coyhaique from Puerto Montt (the Chilean port city which marks the Northern start of the Carretera Austral) and was dumping his gear in Coyhaique. He complained of biting rains and awful road conditions in which the loose gravel made driving his bike trailer a true pain in the butt (that must have had something to do with his bikeseat as well.) Anyway, Rob caught Richard at just the right moment as he was cleansing his hands of his bike and trailer forever. His excitement to get rid of all his stuff was a bit alarming but darned exciting too. The exact same trailer that we couldn´t afford and had made us wonder just how we planned to carry some 50 pounds of equipment on our backs and bicycles happened to fall from the sky the very day before we hit the road. Thank you Richard.

The trip itself has been grand. We´ve sweated and had a couple noteable bonks (biker terminology for the strange -and not entirely unexpected in 95 degree heat - phenomenon that makes a person feel like they´ve hit a brick wall after strenuous physical activity) but on the whole we feel good about our progress.

We arrived in the town of Cerro Castillo (translated as Castle Mountain) after 98 up and down PAVED kilometers in about two and a half days. We have found that making a documentary while in the midst of a grand bike journey is one heck of a challenge but we are figuring it out. It gets a bit annoying to set the camera up and then retreat to get shots of us passing throught the remarkable countryside of Patagonia but it must be done.

In Cerro Castillo we have had a blast. We are able to concentrate much more on the documentary now which is our reason for being here. This small town of about 580 has been inundated with thousands for their annual cultural festival. The towering mountains and swimming holes and sunny skies have made us realize there is no place we´d rather be.

So far at the cultural festival we have witnessed lamb killings and a bevy of other typical Patagonian ceremonies on a very grand scale. There have been horse races and parades and art fairs and Patagonian yard sports. We have listened to local folk music and danced the nights away. The gauchos (Patagonian cowboys) we have spoken with have been unbelievably receptive and helpful.

If there´s one thing that our early good fortune, the beautiful weather and the amazing Patagonians have shown us it may be that,thus far for TRACKING PATAGONIA, the stars are truly aligned.

martes, 22 de enero de 2008

La Hora de Partir

Son las siete de la mañana, y no me he levantado tan temprano desde terminé haciendo clases en la escuela. Estoy tomando un mate en la cocina, y pienso en las horas que hemos pasado en esta cocina: pensando, conversando, y finalmente preparando por el proyecto. Por fin, hoy es el día de partir.

Imagino las experiencias que nos esperan en el camino. Claro que vamos a sufrir los primeros días (¡y las primeras subidas!) en bici. Claro que vamos a equivocarnos muchas veces cuando filmamos. Pero igual, tendremos una experiencia profunda. De eso, estoy segura.

Llevo ocho meses viviendo aquí en Coyhaique. Llegué buscando la mágica de la Patagonia, una tierra conocida en todo el mundo por sus paisajes preciosos. Encontré una cultura y una gente que es mas linda todavía que el paisaje. Aunque comprendo que cambio es necesario, no quiero que la gente acá pierda lo que tiene. Pero, como no sabemos que pasaría en nuestro viaje, no sabemos que pasaría en el futuro de la Patagonia Chilena. Así es que viajaremos con esfuerza y escucharemos con corazón, aprovechando este época y este momento en un región especial.


lunes, 21 de enero de 2008

Riding With the Wind (We Hope)

The endless nights of drinking maté and brainstorming in front of our computers are coming to a head. TRACKING PATAGONIA will exit the phase of grant proposals, press releases, and logistics on Tuesday January 22, when we finally hit the road.

Our team of Sarah Athanas, Rob Jackson, Anne Hedderman, and Scott Jackson have our bikes as ready as they’re going to be. We will also be joined by a friend of Sarah’s, Russ Finkelstein, for the first week or so.

The relatively fast-paced streets of Northern Patagonia’s capital city of Coyhaique (population 50,000) will be left behind and the dusty, bumpy, and curvy main Patagonian thoroughfare called the Carretera Austral will become our home. A bit of anxiety and a lot of excitement accompany our last-minute preparations and they are a fit pair of emotions. They are one in the same.

We have formed this team due to our shared love for Northern Patagonia. We have agreed that sometimes it is the risks one takes that make them stronger (in our case the risks have nothing to do with masked mauraders or armed guerillas, and much to do with grueling uphill climbs and unpredictable weather.) We are sure that by guarding our expectations and not fretting over the unforeseen perils of our bicycle trek and week-long rafting trip on the mighty Baker River we will get a firsthand look at the spirit of the region.

We plan to ride at a moderate pace, travelling about 30 kilometers every day. Some days the ascents over mountain passes will be daunting. Other days the descents will be uplifting. The rainstorms will soak through and mighty winds will be biting. Days of sun and heat will dry us out again. If there is one certainty on this journey it is that the potholes and gravel and blowing dirt of the Carretera will shake our bones and move our souls.

Our bonding attitude – we can’t wait to see what happens! We hope you enjoy our endeavor from afar and feel a part of the transformation that we will be undergoing. Northern Patagonia is facing incredible change in the face of the proposed dam projects and we want the whole world to know what is at stake. Please be content to read along for now. Soon enough we will have a feature length documentary to stretch your minds and open your eyes.