First Week in Patagonia

A week ago I arrived to Chile. I am in Coyhaique, Chile in the Aysen region of Patagonia. The rhythm of life here is slower than I am used to and although I miss my go-go-go lifestyle, I am realizing the advantages, such as lack of stress, from this slower pace. I am excited to start fishing, hiking, researching, and visiting salmon farms. But I have been surprised by how much I can learn just from talking to everyday people.

People are interested in science here. They are aware of Climate Change and the impact of salmon farms on their environment. Just from talking to people I have learned about large accidental releases of Atlantic farm salmon into the seas, large international salmon farms polluting toxic chemicals into the oceans, and about the invasion of these corporations in the coastal marine reserves . The people here don’t like the salmon farming, the farms ship away the fish and leave the Chilean coast a mess. I have also talked with people about the local artisanal fishing practices and briefly discussed some of the relationships between the government, commercial salmon farms and artisanal fisherman. I am eager to learn more.

Outside the hostel we grilled pork, chicken, and sausages during a typical  Asado.  We talked about the receding glaciers, the science education system in Chile, and recycling. We also listened to music and enjoyed each other’s company.

Outside the hostel we grilled pork, chicken, and sausages during a typical Asado. We talked about the receding glaciers, the science education system in Chile, and recycling. We also listened to music and enjoyed each other’s company.

¡Que Rico!

¡Que Rico!

After struggling to make connections the first few days, I finally have found an opportunity to go out and do what I came here to do! In a few days I will depart on a boat to visit a few islands that are near the Guaitecas National Reserve. There is possibility for a horse trek, biking, and hiking but that is all still a bit unknown due to weather. There are very few people and very little tourism in this area, so we aren’t quite sure what we will find. The mission for me is to look at some of the salmon farms that are invading the reserve and hopefully talk to some of the few locals in the area. I would like to make some contacts and return to the islands for a longer visit sometime in the future.

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I am nervous for weather. It is rainy and cold here. I have already been wearing most of my layers in the hostel. I am worried how I will hold up in the southern coast.

In addition there are a lot of unknowns on this trip. We are bringing 4 season tents, bikes, and are prepared for a horse trek if the opportunity arises. We will be sleeping on a cargo boat, on beaches and next to receding glaciers. It should be quite the adventure.

Wish me luck!

Gloria Goni-McAteer