I recently stumbled across an interesting article on CNN titled “The Loneliest Cowboy in the World”. The article profiled an 81-year-old man named Faustino Barrientos, who has been living in almost complete isolation in the Chilean Patagonia for 46 years.
|Faustino at home|
Faustino is a true gaucho. Gauchos are similar to cowboys in North America. They herd cattle over the vast, brutal landscape of Southern Argentina and Chile. Just as the Wild West cowboys have faded away, gauchos too, have become less common.
Reading about Faustino’s life, and subsequently watching the short, four-part documentary was quite interesting. This is not a man who was exiled. He enjoys living in solitude and has no desire of rejoining society. He lives on several acres of land on the Peninsula La Florida, which juts out into the oddly shaped Lago O'Higgins.
|Close up of the Peninsula La Florida and Lago O'Higgins|
Faustino lives a simple, seemingly uncomplicated life. He is very resourceful, often recycling items to create new ones. He even built a storage shed out of an old boat. He stays in touch with the goings-on in the world through a radio. He receives a delivery of newspapers biannually. With no visitors his only human interaction is when he travels to the faraway town of Villa O’Higgins to sell his cattle once a year. Recently another gaucho has come to live on Faustino’s land with his own herd of animals providing Faustino with a more constant companionship.
|Break time with yerba mate and biblical light.|
In the documentary Faustino commented on global warming. Living and relying so much on his natural surroundings for over four decades, he has been able to see, first hand, the effects of global warming. He has observed changes in the seasons as well as changes in the life cycles of plants.
It’s hard to imagine living like this. While the idea of living off the land is appealing to some, I would suspect that most people would not voluntarily choose a life for themselves so far removed from society. But for me, at least, it is definitely interesting to see how other people are living their lives, especially someone like Faustino, who has such an unusual life according to social norms.
|The structure on the left is the shed made from an old boat.|
The CNN article can be found here.
Or you can go watch the documentary here.