The new field operatives

The good thing about the roads being closed is that we don’t have to worry about missing a gas line. There is no gas coming for now.

I began handing out cards with “gasolina?” written on the back. I started with folks we’ve met or done business with, then moved on to complete strangers.

The Chilean government keeps walking away from negotiations and it leads to bigger protests in the night. With that information, and the  possibility of the electricity going out in the city, I decided to call the Embassy. My intention was to ask if they had a source of gas in the area. You never know.

My ‘vice consular’ was very nice. She took our information, so now it’s official – we are in the area. They have not gotten calls from anyone so near the activity, so mostly she had questions for us about what we’ve seen and heard. We’ve unknowingly become the new ‘field operatives.’

The State Department has some other ‘field operatives’ in the area (though none where we are). Basically, these are covert spies who continually pass information back to the embassy about goings-on throughout the country. I was put in touch with a local (200 kms away) ‘warden’ who told us he had no gas either, and getting such a large quantity would be near impossible. Mind you, this large quantity we are looking for is 3 to 5 gallons.

My consular is very friendly and helpful, and actually a little concerned. There have been reports of violence and vandalism, which were probably just hoodlum teenagers. But she did think it best for us to keep the car safe, so we moved it back to our cabin. It is nice not to worry about it so near the plaza.

She’s in Santiago, and from 1200 miles away, is actually more concerned about our safety than we are. I was telling her that things seemed calm here, that the protesters were starting another rally and they had built a bonfire in the center of the plaza. She laughed  that I had referred to this as ‘pretty calm’.

But honestly, things aren’t too crazy. Office workers make banners and march around town during the day and people have set up tents in the plaza, so it is starting to look like what I imagine the Occupy movement to look like. These are just normal folks who are fed up. Support for the movement seems unanimous. At least it isn’t a free for all…yet. I think things may be worse in the port of Aysen, about 30 minutes from here.

We were told that there were “some hints” of possible government “movements” in the future. I’m not sure this will be a good thing.

The bakeries have all closed because there is no more flour – now there is no more bread.  There is still some canned and frozen food in the stores. I realized why – they are really expensive. A can of beans is about $5 USD – the normal price here. The butcher counter which normally extends most of the back wall of the large supermarket is down to about 2 trays of premium beef. We had filet mignon and a bottle of wine last night. I doubt there will be meat tonight. Time to go fishing.

We are quite used to making the most of what groceries we can obtain, and we’re stocked up on noodles.

We have a few leads on gasoline, but nothing has worked out so far. I think today we will know more. I’ve heard that they might open the roads tonight for a few minutes (passenger cars only). So today, we’re hopeful something might change. We’re going to pack up and hope for the best!

6 thoughts on “The new field operatives

  • March 3, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    you need that new software (or soon to come software?) that removes unwanted people from pics. then you can get rid of that guy in the brown jacket in the last one.

  • March 3, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Wow! I can’t believe you guys are still there! Sounds like things are kind of crazy, but I’m glad to hear you are all doing well. We just took a bus last night up from Punta Arenas and are now in Osorno, no problems whatsoever for us and tons of cars on the road, gas stations all open, etc. so I hope things start happening for you all! We are heading to Santiago on another bus tonight and then to Mendoza for a couple days…glad for the update on your whereabouts!! Hope little Bode’s doing well!! Oh, and we mentioned him in our blog today and gave a shout out to your blog 🙂

  • March 3, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    I’ve been so happy to hear that you’re feeling very calm and alright in the midst of this. Your basic outlook on life is so essential in a situation like this, and I’m glad to hear it’s holding solid. Thinking about you back here in the land of (insane) plenty!

  • March 5, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    met Simon and c after we got off the boat in chaiten Friday morning. They said they were going your way. We spent three rainy nights in pumalin park. an amazing place! Still saw lots of stuff. In chaiten now for tonight. Still gas and groceries here luckily. Good luck guys!

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