As Luis “Esteban” Chiguay stares into the face of South America’s largest glacier, he’s becoming increasingly aware that it’s time to go. Standing on the muddy shore of its ice-bulldozed moraine, he takes one final look at the glowing blue glacier.
“This means everything. Everything. It’s the best thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
As a confluence of economic and environmental factors bring fundamental changes to Patagonia, however, these adaptive, inventive sons and daughters of pioneers are struggling to give their culture a future.
International wool markets are depressed. A short hundred years of ranching these glacially carved mountainsides have stripped their soils of productive nutrients, and they tolerate fewer sheep each season. The region’s glaciers – the water reserves for these agricultural lands – are rapidly melting as the climate warms up, and delivers unpredictable rains and less snow.
Most devastatingly, few children here envision their own future as one of agriculture and isolation. They are connected to the world. Curiosity insists.