Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Futelefú Story

Roco, who met me at the Argentinian border to take me to Futelefu seemed nice at first, he laughed at me when i started frieking out at border control and wrote my name and country of origin and date of birth all in the wrong blanks, and he volentarilly filled it out correctly for me and even signed it for me!

When we got to futelefu he dropped off all of the other 5 or 6 passangers at their doorsteps, he knew where they lived, kissed each on the cheek as they left the van. I asked him to drop me off at the doorstep of the officina de trourismo and tried to strike up a little bit of conversation. He said nothing

and instead of the officina de tourismo he brought me to the doorsteps of a locotorio that had techno music blaring and this dude waiting for me who was wearing a gulligins island hat, a wife beater shirt and board shorts.

When i open the car door he was immediatly in my face, in english ¨are you looking to go rafting, i can give you a really good deal¨ ¨tomorrow?¨ ¨we have some of the best rafting in the world right here¨ ¨cmon man where are you from?¨. i finally had to tell him ¨dude i dont want a fucking raft trip!¨ and he left me alone about it.

We talked for a few minutes. his name was Blue, he was a raft guide from New Zealand and he told me about how he had been stranded in Futelefú for over a week with no money at all unless he sold raft trips to people which he had no luck at because the company he worked at did not auctually have any rafts. He did not find this out until the day that he auctually found people to take on the river. His boss had to tell them all this embarresing news.

Nonetheless selling nonexistant raft trips is the only way that Blue has a chance of making any money in this town. It is therefore the only way that he can get out of it.

He lives in a borrowed-broken tent in a cow pasture without a toilet so he has to shit in the cow pasture with his girlfriend who works at a bar and soley gets paid a 15 percent commision for each beer that she sells which on a good day amounts to just under 1 usd per hour. They spend every cent of her money on food rations which consist soley of 2 dried biscuts a day and butter.

It was after Blue told me his story that i looked into my wallet and realized that all i had was 10 argentinian pesos and that the only ATM in town took all of the major credit cards except for visa. I had a visa. The next-closest ATM was one-hundred miles away.

So i went to the cow pasture with Blue and set up my tent. Here Blue told me the rest of his story:

Previous to living in Patagonia, He and his girlfriend (Sophie) had been guiding raft trips in Mexico for 2 years. After they recieved job offers to guide for a company in Patagonia, they scraped their money together and bought a pair of airline tickets. They arrived in Southern Chile and found that somebody else had taken their guiding spots and there were no more jobs for them with the company.

They went traveling by bus in search for other jobs. in other parts of patagonia and eventually arrived in Esquel (southern artentina) about two weeks ago. While in the Esquel bus terminal they left behind a backpack which contained 1000 dollars (the only money that they had). They got a call a day later from somebody who said that he had the briefcase. After the stranger divulged this information he hung up the phone. The briefcase appeared in the bus station 2 days later with everything inside except for the money.

The two of them then scoured internet looking for job opportunities, found one for guiding in Futelefu. Without other options for the moment they picked up their stuff and and moved to Futelefú. They came to the town with no money on themselves. All that they had was 300 dollars in Sophie´s checking account. She had not bothered to take any of the money out and unfortionaly her check card was also a Visa.

The bus drivers did not take credit cards and were not willing to transport them anywhere unless they paid first. Sophie and Blue were thus stranded in Futelefu with no money at all. Sophie therefore got her job at the bar.

I went to hang out at the bar that Sophie worked at. It was filled with 10 to 15 old and dirty men who were all drinking the same type of canned beer and watching Sophie with cat-clock-eyes as she moved around the bar in her skirt. She did not get off of her shift until 5 in the morning. She did not even bother to collect the money that she made for the night because it was so little (somewhere between 6 and 7 usd for 10 hours of work). She said that one of the guys puked all over the bar and she had to clean it up. Another kept grabbing her ass.

Roco (the bus driver who transports people from the Chillean border to Futelefu) also owns the raft company that Blue works for and the property that Blue and Sophie are living on and his wife owns the town´s locotorio. Roco is an asshole. He has offered no help to Blue or Sophie and according to Blue has only been trying to make money off of off them by charging them 10 usd a night to live in his cow pasture. He finally changed his mind and let them stay for less. Roco has made no offer to transport either of this to Esquel in order to get money from Sophie´s credit account.

It is apparantly true that Futelefu has some of the best rafting in the world and Blue told me that this is the main reason that they seeked employment there. They wanted to check out the river, do some recreational floating of their own. Blue and Sophie are still to float the river.

Roco was going to Esquel today for business purposes and therefore offered to bring us along if we all paid him money. I of course jumped on the opportunity, Blue and Sophie were going to go but they said that they were sick of giving Roco money. They said they are going to hitch a ride tomorrow, that as long as they get out of Futelofu they will be fine because Sophie has family members with money who can lend them money so they can fly back to mexico. I insisted that they left with me today but to no avail.

My original plan was to go to Esquel to get money and then return to Futelefu with Roco so that i could catch my next bus tomorrow, but as i was waiting for Roco to pull up with his van i got the shivers and loaded my backpack and decided to bag the whole rest of the plan and get as far away as Futelefu as i can and never come back. I hope that Blue and Sophie are going to be ok but there is really nothing that i can do for them if they dont want a ride away from that evil town.

-Blue and Sophie

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