Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

In Chile, when the old, crazy, and infirm are institutionalized and set out in a wheelchair on the patio to drool all over each other they are referred to as “locos de patio”. This is where we keep our locos de patio on the All Chile Forum.

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Vicki and Greg Lansen
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Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

Post by Vicki and Greg Lansen » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:04 pm

I have felt ashamed for some time that I couldn't hack it in Patagonia. I cried before I left, I cried while I left, and I cried for weeks after I left. I thought about it for eighteen or so months now, and not a day goes by when I don't think about it. It was the fucking hardest thing I ever did...living in Patagonia. But it was also the most spectacular and alive I ever felt.

I think now that what happened was that I didn't know how difficult and isolated it would be. The getting things done got done, and then there I was. Any all the rest of it was fucking hard. Chopping wood. Clearing out the water lines. Getting gas to power the generator and fill the truck, a two-hour journey that found gas for about $8 a gallon. Walking or hitching 28 kilometers to check on a part for the truck. Keeping warm. Keeping dry. Figuring out how to sharpen a chain saw. Ripping my arm out trying to start the chain saw. The constant breaking down of the hydro. Climbing up and down a frozen 75 degree mud hill to reset the hydro. Coaxing a garden when the season was about two weeks long.

I've forgotten all that. All I remember now is the view from the bedroom window of a blue glacier, of Cerro Tres Monjas. The trout and salmon in the river below the house. The clicking of the Bosca, bread in the oven. My neighbors. And a fine hedge of Hops growing on a bamboo fence. Asados, Navigado. Floating wool blankets in the river and letting them dry on hedges of chilco. Days of purpose.

My Chile, my Patagonia was one of hard-working good people, of Carabineros who helped change tires, of shop keepers who let you buy on credit when the ATM was down, who traded a pig for "on account". For neighbors who made me a walker and cleaned my house when I broke my foot. Where five-year old kids can hitch a ride to town and no one goes hungry or cold.

For the two weeks in December that brought this place a heat wave every year, we could sit in the Rio Desague in our underware and drink cold beer. By night we'd be in fleece with a blazing Bosca and a dish of home made pasta. Yet, somehow, it beat us down. I guess if you didn't grow up that way, at first it seems quaint. Then it's a challenge. Then it just fucking nails you, if you aren't tough enough. That's what happened.

I am going back in February. Need to take care of a financial obligation first, then on to Futa where I will get together with some folks to find someone to inhabit the cabin. I'm conflicted by this. I need to sell it, because it can't be unused. But I wish that some Patagonian Fairy would sprinkle some magic dust on me and make it possible to go back and live. Fairy Tales.

Thanks for listening.

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Re: Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

Post by RuneTheChookcha » Thu Dec 15, 2011 11:51 pm

"The Waterfall"

"...I went to Yosemite National Park, and I saw some huge waterfalls. The highest one there is 1,340 feet high, and from it the water comes down like a curtain thrown from the top of the mountain. It does not seem to come down swiftly, as you might expect; it seems to come down very slowly because of the distance. And the water does not come down as one stream, but is separated into many tiny streams. From a distance it looks like a curtain. And I thought it must be a very difficult experience for each drop of water to come down from the top of such a high mountain. It takes time, you know, a long time, for the water finally to reach the bottom of the waterfall.

And it seems to me that our human life may be like this. We have many difficult experiences in our life. But at the same time, I thought, the water was not originally separated, but was one whole river. Only when it is separated does it have some difficulty in falling. It is as if the water does not have any feeling when it is one whole river. Only when separated into many drops can it begin to have or to express some feeling. When we see one whole river we do not feel the living activity of the water, but when we dip a part of the water into a dipper, we experience some feeling of the water, and we also feel the value of the person who uses the water. Feeling ourselves and the watei in this way, we cannot use it in just a material way. It is a living thing.

Before we were bom we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called "mind-only," or "essence of mind," or "big mind," After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life.

When the water returns to its original oneness with the river, it no longer has any individual feeling to it; it resumes its own nature, and finds composure. How very glad the water must be to come back to the original river!..."

~ by Shunryu Suzuki

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Re: Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

Post by greg~judy » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:07 am

dear v~g...
we were so happy to meet you that one time in futa...
just a chance encounter, when we were staying at nate's place

g~j also remember some of the difficulties of which you spoke...
you had chosen a seemingly (simplistically) difficult path...
but as you say - we saw - you were "so alive"...
we saw the enjoyment in your eyes and in your manner...
but we also heard (unspoken) the trials undertaken - behind your words

although we never went 'down the road' to visit your place...
we have a pretty good visualization of what you described.
ya know... g~ would love to take over where you left off...
in your comfy (albeit rustic) cabana by the rio...

but then ~j would unfortunately divorce me forthwith!
she is unwilling to accept the "fucking hard" at this stage in her life
thus, g~ will choose "the relationship" over "the place"
perhaps this is also what you (v~) and ~g also decided...?

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin...

g~j wish you all the best on your new road~journey...
may you always be healthy and happy together...
wherever your path leads you in the future
Floating wool blankets in the river and letting them dry on hedges of chilco. Days of purpose.
and may you always remember the chilco of patagonia...
chilco - 3 & 3 - ac.jpg
chilco - 3 & 3 - ac.jpg (76.34 KiB) Viewed 1577 times
Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise.
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“If we want everything to stay as it is, everything will have to change."
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Re: Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

Post by admin » Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:03 pm

Vicky, hold your head high. Many younger and better equiped people never lasted as long as you and Greg in that corner of the Patagonia called Futa. Between the daily challenges of living in a place that remote and the challenges of staying inspite of the volcanic erruption, everyone here knows you did much more than just give it a go.
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Re: Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

Post by nwdiver » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:30 pm

The area around Futa reminds me of the Babine River in Northern BC, remote and beautiful. Sorry to hear you have moved to warmer climates, I can only handle summer any more so travel between hemispheres.
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Re: Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

Post by john » Fri Dec 16, 2011 6:20 pm


Very sorry to hear of the heart-wrenching travails you experienced living in Patagonia. You are a very brave woman and I commend you for your courage and fortitude in undertaking this very difficult challenge, and giving it your all.

May your future endeavours be both happy and successful.
One must care about a world one will not see.
--- Bertrand Russell

Vicki and Greg Lansen
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Re: Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

Post by Vicki and Greg Lansen » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:33 pm

a hot cup of navigado to all of you. Rune, your post rings true, made we weepy, but I tend to be that way anyway...Nice encouragement and affirmation. G&J, as always, my kindergarten brain had to swallow one line at a time, but always you come through...you endured Patagonia on bikes and ended up in the fucking desert? WTF????? I hope you love it there! As for PX, the Wizard of Region X, XI and XII, kind words and I thank you for them. And John, honestly, some things individually seemed heart-wrenching...no, just Sofa King hard, but mostly they were incredible things and I wouldn't change a thing. Tis, what it tis.

Got my old Patagonia boots restitched, picked out my cleanest underwear, two pair of pants, three t-shirts and a fleece jacket with an over rain zip on. I'll get my wool socks when I get to Futa. Gonna pack it all in a little pack and hit Santiago in February, then after a short stop to see friends for a day, I'm on to Chaiten to hitch hike to Rio Azul and Futaleufu. My kids said, "YOU CAN'T HITCH HIKE MOM! Your'e almost 60! Are you crazy?" I am crazy, but I am also only 52.

Again, I really appreciate the sentiments. Felt good just writing it down and getting it off my 60-year old chest.

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Re: Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

Post by Gloria » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:18 pm

patagoniax wrote: Did Nicolas Lapenn ever make it back to Chaiten? If he did, he should be able to arrange a ride over to Futaleufu. I have his email if you need it, though the last I heard from him was just after the eruption and I think he and family went to Concepcion. I heard that he made it back to Chaiten to start over.

I am pretty sure there is at least one bus service from Coyhaique to/from Chaiten now and while that doesn't go to Futaleufu it can drop you at Sta Lucia. Actually I think the Ebenezer bus is running from Futaleufu to/from Chaiten at least a couple of days a week, so check on which days and avoid that hitchhiking.

I should be back up in Aysen soon, might find a way back to your neighbourhood as well before long.

Welcome back home.

EDIT: got this from Nicolas' website:

Buses Chaiten to La Junta passing junction with Sta Lucia: Thursdays from Chaiten 10 AM , subject to changes of course
Buses Chaiten to Futaleufú, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 930 AM

There are now flights from Pto Montt to Chaitén

Nicolas is back in business in Chaiten, running Chaitur. When you lived around there you probably met him at one time or another. If you need contact info let me know.
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Re: Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

Post by Vicki and Greg Lansen » Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:22 pm

I know Nicolas very well. We all spent some time together before, during and after the eruption. Somewhere in the cyberworld is a video (youtube) of Chaiten and Nicolas playing the Charongo as background. Anywhoooo...I know Patagonia, and my end-all plan is to hitch it. If Nicolas is running his stuff, excellent. If not, I've enjoyed the solitude and interesting interactions hitching the road from Chaiten to Azul, and Azul to Futa a couple of times. The key is to have rain gear, and good spirits...both kinds for the long waits.

When I get in to Chaiten, I may make it to Santa Barbara to load up on pumice and let the sun burn off my road stink on the black beach there. THEN move on. On my way back, I might, if the Queen of Chile allows, buy MZ Gloria lunch in my second favorite city in Chile. Between...possibly a glass of box wine for the PX. If he''s Sofa King Lucky!!!!!

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Re: Why I left Chile ad Why I want to come back...

Post by Vicki and Greg Lansen » Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:27 pm

p.s. bringing 25-30 pounds of fresh roasted, whole bean coffee.

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