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Day 200-201 Careterra Austral #2 La Junta


I headed to the opposite direction, heading north, because I had people that I wanted to meet. Paul and Konimi, who are living a sustainable life in La Junta.


Many of my friends told me to visit them, but I realized that I've came too south after I arrived in Patagonia, so I had to go back for 120km. I feel so thankful for Paul and Konomi who accepted me on such short notice.


I had a bad feeling when I saw the directions from Konomi, saying "come over the fence"
It was very hard for a powerless girl like me to go over the fence which was about the height of myself with my bike.


After climbing the fence and a steep hill, you can see a white dome and a green roof.
This day was Konomi's birthday, so I tried to find some flowers on the way to make a small bouquet, but I found out that she has the same flowers in her garden.


Konomi showed me around.


Green house with earth bag walls. The heat is stored into the walls during the day and released at night.
Wood is buried under the crops.


This is a method called hugelkultur, which imitates the forest. The wood decomposes gradually as it becomes a source of nutrition, and it also keeps moisture that you don't need to water the crops so often.

ボリビアのワリピニ(walipini アイマーラ語で暖かい空間の意)を参考にし、斜面を利用した地下温室。穴掘りをしたことがある方ならこの大きさの穴を全て人力で掘るのがどれほど大変かわかるでしょう。凄まじいです。

This greenhouse is built underground, like a walipini in Bolivia. If you have ever dug earth by yourself, you can imagine how much work it is to dig this all by hand.


This place used to be a pasture, and no single tree when they bought this property in 2007. Paul is a specialist who walked all over the world for 40 years, planting trees, so he planted 1200 trees in this area. The trees were planted randomly, with only a rough design -- such as tall trees in the south so that they don't have to worry about the shade, and colorful trees in front of their house that doesn't bother the view. The west side was kept as it was to see what happens, and now the original vegetation is starting to come back.


I helped cutting the weeds.


They do the grass cutting all by hand. Their property is so vast, so I asked why they don't use a machine.
"We have a machine and we used to use it, but one of the volunteers cut down a tree by mistake. Trees are very important for us, so we decided to do it by hand. It takes more time, but you can learn more about the land and notice the changes. Well, the machine was
expensive though..."


The grass is used for multing.

Spanish sickle.


Beautiful view from the window of their house. They first decided to built a big window on this direction. The house is small, but the view is vast.


A plastic sheet is buried underground to make the soil dry. In this way, the ground gets drier and drier every year, and stores heat. The floor has gaps so when it gets cold, the heat comes from the ground. The thick earth bag walls also work as a insulation, so it's easy to heat with wood stoves and keep the heat at winter, but it also remains cool during summertime even when it's hot outside.
The roof water also flows over the plastic sheets and goes into the pond. They use rain water for washing and river water for drinking.


The pond plays many important rolls. There are 13 ponds, and they work well not only as a water source in the dry season, but also as a habitat for many species. Frogs, bees, dragonflies weren't here at first, but they came back and now they are increasing every year. They are nourishing the whole area.
The frogs eat mosquitos so they don't have mosquitos here.
Making ponds are so easy. Dig a hole, put a plastic sheet, and pray for the rain. The soil is used for earth bags or hugelkultur.
Strawberries grow well beside the pond. They were yummy.



Konomi made a beautiful and tasty salad with edible flowers. The colorful potatoes are from Chiloe, and they are very strong.


Carretera Austral is changing rapidly in the last few years. When they first moved here, the road was very narrow and unpaved, so the main transportation was horses. You could see horses parked in front of the supermarkets. The road was paved few years ago, and more people could afford to buy a car with the construction money. Paved roads are easy to drive, but the cars drive so fast that now there are many road kills which never happened before.
Carettera Austral would be totally paved in few years, but we can't forget that we have a price for convenience.


I was surprised that Paul and Konomi doesn't have a car. I thought cars were necessary to live in the countryside. They live in a walking distance from the town, and when they buy heavy things, they ask their friends to help, or use a free service from the hardware store.


The climate change is also a big issue this last few years. Now the summer and winter comes so suddenly that they don't have spring and autumn. They had no rain for six months last year, and the rivers dried up. After this, the government and the people got more aware about conserving water, and many people came to their house to learn how to make ponds.


Chile seems like a very nice place to live. Easy to immigrate and buy land, and the government is very helpful and gives you money for new projects. The hospitals and education is free.






Their stories for finding places were also interesting. They came to Patagonia in winter, and it was hard because sometimes there are only one bus a week. I asked them why did they choose such a harsh season, and Paul's answer was very interesting.

"It was just because we arrived in that season, but I'm glad we did it in winter because you can see how much snow is and how much sun light is available during the day. I recommend people to find places in winter."

I never thought about that, but it makes sense to know the worst condition before buying.

Tabbi like a ball.


I enjoyed listening to their stories, and talking about our lives and the difference between Japan and other countries.


The fence was fixed by their neighbors, so it was much easy to go out. Thank you mr.neighbor.


Thank you for a wonderful time, Paul and Konomi (and Tabbi)!!!