Creación de un estilo de vida sostenible en Patagonia パタゴニアでサステイナブルな暮らし作り
The presidential visit yesterday to our small village of La Junta came like a breath of fresh air to its citizens, literally. Three days of heavy rain stopped and the sun came out just before President Pinera arrived by helicopter at 4.30 in the afternoon. With him were the first lady, Laurence Golborne, the Minister of Public Works and Pilar Cueros Maldones, the Governor of Aysen. The presidential party landed at the village aerodrome, where they were welcomed by the Mayor and the students and staff of the local kindergarten, before witnessing the signing of a document that promises that next year La Junta is going to have a high school... welcome news to many a parent. Presently, when the children reach thirteen years old, they have to travel almost three hundred kilometers to Coyhaique to finish their education. A hardship for the entire family, who only get to see each other during school holidays.
Following this they proceeded bounced along the Carretera Austral in well sprung four wheel drives to the scenic bridge that crosses the Rio Rosselot and links La Junta to Northern Patagonia and the ferry to Puerto Montt and the rest of the country. This visit was a well kept secret until the last moment. We live on a hill next to the bridge and only got to know of the event when our friend came to work on our house. “There's something going on at the bridge.” He said. “There's a big sign and lots of speakers and there's police all over the place. I think it's an inauguration for the paving of the highway.”
In this part of the world this is very big news. The Ruta Austral is the only highway in Patagonia and not much of it actually paved. I took out the binoculars and realized that yes, something big was indeed going on, but not until we joined the growing crowd at three thirty in the afternoon did we discover that it was the President himself who was coming. Excitment was in the air. A lot of people in this area voted for President Pinera and they had flags to prove it. Most people were dressed the same as usual, but a few sported new sweaters and clean shoes, a real novelty in this mud filled region. And the butcher, well he was a star,. the perfect character to represent the people. In his mid fifties, amiable, born and bred in La Junta, he's as La Juntan as La Juntan's go. The media loved him, and Dube Rosas, our neighbour, who is as much at home on his horse as he is in his campo. Dube, with the physical presence of a cowboy from the mountains presented the President and Minister with beautiful carved wooden plaques, read a poem and casually wrapped his arm around the President as if he known him for years.
When the President arrived it was to loud cheers and bravos. The Minister of Public Works, who used to be the Minister of Mines and gained national and global status due to the rescue of the trapped miners earlier this year drew as much attention as President Pinera. The women particularly loved the him, and he happily presented them with many a photo opportunity that will grace many a photo album for years.
The main purpose of the visit to the region though was to announce the government, and Presidents' promise to complete the paving and construction of the Carretera Austral, the 1000 km Patagonian highway, that has been in the making for almost forty years. Without this highway, La Junta would not be the community of 2100 that it now is. There does not appear to be a time frame for this enterprise, but the President sees it as a 'grand mission and dream to come true'. It's a big dream for sure. Hundreds of kilometers still need to be paved.
With the forests, pastures, bridge and our little turf house supplying the backdrop to the President, he spoke of the beauty of Aysen and how this natural heritage needed to be cared for. He also emphasized how difficult life can be in such an inhospitable and isolated environment, but spoke too of its 'thousand compensations' which included 'the best reserves of sweet water in the world'. And finished his speech by pouring a glass of Aysen Glacier fed water and toasting the citizens of La Junta.
After photo's and handshakes with almost everyone, the President gave a brief press conference and left. Within minutes the crowds and dignitaries were gone and my wife and friend and I were all alone on the remote unpaved highway wondering 'Was this all just a dream?'