El Puesto

The walls lean ever so slightly to the west and tarps cover old windows.  Remnants of a small fence mark a yard, and hidden from view thre is a now overgrown raspberry and gooseberry patch.  The roof of this one-room puesto, or hut, is a patchwork of wood shingles and scraps of sheetmetal roofing with a strategically placed hole serving as a makeshift chimney.  There are cracks in the walls, places where the mud has fallen from between the hand-milled lumber.  Yet, despite their slight lean and small cracks, these walls still stand sturdy against the strong Patagonian winds outside.

Inside, there are four of us.  We're sitting in a circle swapping stories and watching our clothes steam against the heat of a small fire in a depression in the dirt floor.  We have just arrived after a rainy walk to the Cacho Ranch.

It has been years since the family who built this puesto have occupied the space.  However, reminders of their life here remain within the walls.  A small blackened kettle sits on the fire and a similarly blackened pot hangs on a rusty nail behind us.  They appear in sharp contrast to our puffy sleeping bags and inflatable pads lying on the wooden bunks.  It strikes me that these items are, like the ice that carved this valley thousands of years ago, as much a part of the history as they are a part of the future of Patagonia.