The Patagonia you don’t see in postcards
(* indicates place named on map in Part 2)
After a late night asado with friends in Viedma* when the success of the evening and the presentations had been analysed from every angle, we had another early start to head west 600 km. I was still running on adrenalin, and hardly noticed the burning behind my eyelids. My two companions were always entertaining, alternating at being the straight guy and the funny one, and they made me laugh a lot. I was fortunate that they too enjoyed photography, and whoever was driving willingly screeched to a halt if someone saw a good subject, though I think I tried their patience a little with my enthusiasm for dust pictures. (I may try yours as well.)
Valcheta Police Station – I was told that in out of the way places the police station was always built to look unusual and imposing, so as to inspire respect.
When we stopped for lunch in Valcheta, I had another first – I was recognised by the restaurant owner from the article in the paper and the brief item on the evening news the night before, and they made me feel like a minor film star (WHY hadn’t I put on make-up? Should I just smile? Should I check there was nothing stuck in my teeth before smiling? What intelligent remarks could I make? How does one eat and look famous AND refined at the same time?)
As you travel east from this point, you find yourself admiring the gentler colours and shapes of the foothills by looking into the distance at shoulder level. Still further east - the land we were traversing now - the unique and special raw beauty of Patagonia is appreciated by looking down at your feet, by keeping quiet, crouching down and listening to the life going on around you despite the wind. Nature’s perfection is there: you just have to slow down to see it.
And at night you are dwarfed and awed by the Milky Way sweeping from one horizon to the other, uninterrupted by mountain or city light, the velvet background black as ink and the Southern Cross pointing the way…
During the afternoon we reached the main road opposite the entrance to Talcahuala*, the first farm where Mollie Robertson had lived between 1916 and 1918.
The next picture is a view of the old house where she lived, which I took 18 months ago. Today we had a long road to travel, and didn’t stop for very long.
From here we gazed at the view at shoulder level –
…and came to a juddering halt when we caught sight of these horses and I fell instantly in love with the foal. He was nervous yet curious as to what I was up to, and pranced hither and thither, wondering whether to stay or flee...
(At my camera club a new member once asked about a technical term he had heard us use - "High or Low R Factor" when describing animal and baby pictures, and what it meant. We had to explain that it was "Aaaaaaaah!!" factor... This foal's aah factor is stratospheric as far as I'm concerned...)
Next time I'll tell you about the next presentation in the town of Ingeniero Jacobacci* and how I almost found myself cast as a scarlet woman...