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Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 3: Tortel

June 30, 2014 

I scheduled an interview in the afternoon (with the help of Lena) so we decided to take the morning to drive to Tortel. 

Tortel is almost the last city on the Careterra Austral. The final city is Villa O'Higgins but you have to take a ferry to get there. I wish we could have gone that far, but unfortunately there's not enough time for everything! 

Tortel is a small fishing town located on the Pacific Ocean. In the last 10 years the town has exploded from 10-15 fishing families to a major (relative to Patagonia) tourist destination, and even on a rainy day I can see why.

We parked our car in a little lot at the top of the hill and started to explore. There are no cars in the town because there are no roads. Everything is connected by boardwalks! 

It's beautiful, but unfortunately development happened so quickly that there is no sewage system. The sewage from the whole town just runs right into the ocean. It wasn't that smelly the day we were there, but we heard that some days it's awful, and the water is completely polluted. You can't even swim. 

It was also almost totally desereted. We saw 2 people and knocked on a few doors to ask if anyone would answer some questions about Hidroaysen. Everyone we could find refused to talk about it. One woman said "I wouldn't answer questions if the president of your country came to ask me". It's sad that journalists covering this issue have created such an unfriendly environment. Most of the local people near this area of Patagonia that I was fortunate to talk to required a long time to gain their trust and even then were surprised that I was genuinly interested in their local perspective. Tortel was an eye-opening experience for me, and I wish I had had more time there to build the trust of people and maybe restore a little faith in journalism. 

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