Gonzo journalism in the Americas. Join g. as he zigzags across the continents in search of all that is fun.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Uhhh... Yeah I´m with the CIA...
I returned to Puerto Montt from the Island of Chiloé today. I didn´t find the end of the road. Actually I found out that the road continues on for hundreds of miles to the south. It is called the Carreterra Austral, or Southern Highway. It is interrupted by several ferries but continues through Patagonia to Tierra del Fuego. It will be this highway that I drive if I realize my dream to ride a motorcycle through South America.
Upon returning to Pto. Montt I had a pretty funny experience. I was walking down the road, headed for the local sushi joint for some lunch and came across the power tool shop. It was a typical business front with the logos of Makita and DeWalt plastered over the facade. I walked a block over to get closer to the place to take a picture. Why would I want a picture of a hardware store? Well who knows... I actually just figured that Pennisi would get a kick out of it. So as I get closer I realize that there are people upstairs in what seems to be an apartment having their afternoon tea. I compose my shot, take it and head back down the block for the sushi dive.
I go inside, the last customer for the lunch hour, head to the can to take a whizz, no big deal. When I come out of the bathroom a chilean lady is standing between me and my table. She begins assaulting me with rapid spanish to which I´m dumbfounded. I listen intently as I can tell she´s very upset. I gather she wants to know why I was taking a picture of her house. I take a deep breath and say... "Es porque el marque 'Makita y DeWalt, soy carpentero y uso estes hermientes todos los dias." To this she seems to calm down a bit and I just walk by her. I mean come on, I was taking a picture of a public business, not a funeral. She appears awkward after I just walked by her and shrugs saying, o.k. you´re a carpenter.
In hindsight I wish I would have had the spanish skills to tell her that I was with the CIA and we had reason to believe she was a supporter of Pinochet, the last dictator of Chile. As I reflected on this, it was probably good that I didn´t have the skills to be a smart ass. There is a history here in Argentina and Chile of people disappearing from having the wrong political beliefs. There was probably very good reason she was concerned by me photographing her place. And just confronting me, which she was quite the covert agent to get out of the house and follow me to the sushi restaurant in the first place, probably set her mind at ease.
My trip to Chiloé island was short but very sweet. The place reminded me a lot of Ireland. Very green and rolling and rural. As my bus rolled through the green countryside I saw plenty of sheep and several shepherds in the rain in their bright yellow raincoats. I sat in the warm, dry bus reading from "Chasing Che" and learning of the local history through someone else´s journalism. I photographed in Dalcahue had another incredible salmon dinner bayside and caught the last bus out of Castro by minutes. I stayed in a very comfortable hostel in Ancud called, Mundo Nuevo. This morning I was treated to a colorful foggy sunrise as I walked along the waterfront, camera in hand.
Upon returning to Tren del Sur, I chatted with Mario and a new friend from Brazil, Bernardo. We ended up going to an incredible steak dinner here in Puerto Montt. My Chevy rental car arrived and I´m set to head out to explore the lakes, volcanoes and glaciers tomorrow. There is even the promise of hot springs in my near future. This will be the first time on this trip that I will have my own transportation. I´m excited for the photographic possibilities that this provides. It is midnight now. I must head for bed as it will be an early morning rise. With warmest of thoughts from this drizzly, damp and cold part of Chile. Ciao, -g.