Freely translated as: “Those who hurry in Patagonia, lose time.”
Field work in Patagonia is never easy and always full of surprises…..I teach my students a lot about the importance of asking good scientific questions, but also about having patience and perseverance. Well, in an attempt to achieve the former (answer good questions), our ability to adhere to the latter two p-words is being tested at the moment………. This is week two of our 2017 field season. And things have been a little ropey so far……
The weather has been, well, ….living up to the fullest of its bad reputation. Chilean Patagonia is one of the wettest and windiest places on the planet. Charles Darwin visited Chiloé in 1833 and wrote in his epic book Voyage of the Beagle: “In winter, the climate is detestable, and in summer it is only a little better. I should think there are few parts of the world, within the temperate regions, where so much rain falls. The winds are very boisterous and the sky is almost always clouded: to have a week of fine weather is something wonderful”.
I am writing this as the rain is pounding the roof of our rented cottage by the sea – it has been raining bucket-loads, with and without almost gale-force winds, for the last 24 hours, without fail. The irony of the situation is that while everything outside is drowning we’re having little or no running water inside the cottage (apart from the small leak in the roof that provides steady drips in the communal kitchen), because of a damaged pipe somewhere along the main supply. But, the local people in this part of the world are just fantastically friendly and helpful. I could dedicate a whole book to the good Samaritans who’ve shown us the sun when all we saw were the shadows of problems…..Our gracious hosts Don Tito and Senora Gloria have been most kind providing electric camping shower and temporary water supplies, along with use of their WiFi modem to keep us - the addicted Internet generation- connected with the world, even though at snail’s pace of 200 kb per minute top connection speed.
Chilean dolphins surface close to shore and often can be seen from the beach.... (photo: Sonja)
So, the bad weather is actually a good thing because we’ve got trouble with our boat outboard engine so are laid up on land anyways while the outboard has gone back to yet another mechanic for repairs (patience and perseverance have been needed to find someone who can actually fix what is a tricky but not a complicated problem!). So sun and calm seas, you can hold off until our little grey Yaqu (zodiac) is ready to take us out again to look for little grey dolphins …… We spotted 2 groups of Chilean dolphins right off our launch beach yesterday when we arrived here …….So we’ve picked another good place - :-) … We just need to wait until conditions are right…. We’re not hurrying, we’ve made very good use of time today catching up on data entry and report writing duties that get much neglected when everything is on the go during full days surveying at sea …..