Fast-forward 6 days past our “blog lag” and we’re still here in Coyhaique.
We camped in the fuel line for a while until the warning came… there was going to be a big protest that night and things could get crazy. Broken windows, cars flipped over and set on fire, etc. Not really interested in that option, we split and moved the bus across town. I’m not sure how crazy the protest was, but there was no more fuel line the next day.
Then, there was a rumor going around town that a truck had made it through the barricades and everyone in town jumped back in line. I walked the whole thing and it was about 20 blocks or so, circuitously wrapping itself in random directions around the city streets. We waited, and incrementally moved up whenever someone ahead gave up. We kept asking around and people seemed encouraged that the line was moving, regardless of the fact that there was still no gas. We’re a bit perplexed the whole thing.
This fuel line thing seems to primarily be a male activity. I’m not sure anyone even expects the gas to arrive – it’s just something to do – maybe even an excuse to get away from the wife, work, whatever. No one we’ve met seems to have any spare gas to sell or knows where to get any. No black market that we can find. Yet, no one seems all that concerned. People with fuel in their tanks are still driving the streets and going about their normal routine. It’s a small town, so I suppose a full tank could last quite a while if you’re just running errands.
The broken windows from the protests are mostly covered up with cardboard. Everyone around town has put the Aysen slogans in their windows (possibly to prevent them from being broken).
The road barricades have been blocking all trucks from entering the region for quite a while. Still, and maybe most curiously, the lack of food in stores doesn’t seem to incite any hint of panic in anyone. Back in the US, there would be full-on riots, fist fights in the store aisles, Marshal Law, and end-of-the-world type panic. Here… things are civilized. People try to help each other. The Patagonians seem accustomed to doing without. If there is going to be any sort of Armageddon, I might prefer to experience it here.
We’ve got a stock of food in the bus to last a little while. Bode will happily eat spaghetti for a week if necessary. And, you can still buy things like ketchup and soda for some reason. The stores have plenty of that. I bought some carrots from a lady on the sidewalk selling from her garden – so we’re good on carrots.
We’re still more or less in line for fuel – the bus is only a block from the station right now (progress!) but there’s no longer anyone behind us.
The word on the street is that an official from Santiago has come to the region to negotiate (and has already threatened to use the military), so people are hopeful there will be a resolution soon. But, from our experience, negotiations in Latin America are tricky things – they don’t end until everyone wins.
Things got bad, and things got worse, I guess you know the tune.
Oh, Lord, stuck in Lodi again
– John Fogerty