DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Lifestyles-  THE DISAPPEARING WAYS  

 

They may be changing, and the methods shown here may look quaint from the perspective of a visitor from more developed countries, but they are still widely employed through a major portion of the southern cone.   More often met in the countryside in Peru and Bolivia than Chile and Argentina, but there is much less difference between nations than between life in the cities or developed regions and that in the more remote areas.  This section overlaps those on agriculture, gauchos and mining.

 

Planting potatoes on a rocky hillside in Peru.  The potato originated in this region, and except for the plastic bag, may well have been planted this way for centuries. Click to see big picture (630x480 pixels; 159 KB)
A typical pioneer homestead in a remote area in southern Chile.  Far from roads, efforts such as this must be almost self-reliant. Click to see big picture (626x480 pixels; 151 KB)
A home made fence, where time and ingenuity are more available than money. Click to see big picture (640x431 pixels; 108 KB)
Few things are more symbolic of this lifestyle than the ox-cart, albeit the wheels and axles are seldom home-made these days. Click to see big picture (640x433 pixels; 158 KB)
From school-bus to freight truck, the ox-cart is still central to life in the less accessible areas. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 129 KB)
Handy at harvest time, the ox-cart is the only thing moving in regions such as southern Chile when winter rains turn the rudimentary roads to gumbo. Click to see big picture (640x435 pixels; 126 KB)
On the steppes of southern Argentina, big wheels have an advantage in mud or rough ground. pampa cart
Handling oxen is one of the first thing children learn in those areas.  The bundles in the back of this cart are dried type of kelp (Durvillaea antarctica) from the coast, eaten under the name of "cochayuyo". Click to see big picture (640x404 pixels; 107 KB)
After ploughing, oxen tow logs to smooth the ground and break up the clumps. Click to see big picture (640x366 pixels; 133 KB)
A somewhat more sophisticated system takes the worker along for a ride. Click to see big picture (640x419 pixels; 93 KB)
It may look like water-skiing in mud, but presumably this is preparing a rice field. Click to see big picture (640x388 pixels; 101 KB)
Using the wind to winnow grain, is still the method used to separate it from the chaff in some areas. Click to see big picture (640x426 pixels; 115 KB)
A horse-drawn sand and gravel operation. Click to see big picture (632x480 pixels; 119 KB)
Mining also has it's informal sector, employing ingenious but primitive and often dangerous methods.  Here a worker starts down a loose boulder and ice slope with a heavy bag of rock samples roped to his back. Click to see big picture (640x448 pixels; 130 KB)
Here the remains of a motor on the left will lower you in that bucket about a hundred meters down a crude shaft, and with luck may haul you up again. Click to see big picture (640x394 pixels; 126 KB)
More dangerous still, this is available-light shot down a gypo shaft, with rickety wooden ladders standing on successive posts just wedged across the shaft.  The workers must climb these with sacks of ore. gyposhaft
A section of black cow horn known as a "poruno" is used to "pan" small portions of crushed rock to see if there is free gold.  The hand of this miner speaks as clearly as his methods. Click to see big picture (640x449 pixels; 64 KB)
A primitive mill known as a "trapiche" is used to hand grind small amounts of ore with mercury to extract the gold.  Far from healthy, especially as the mercury must then be fumed off to retrieve the gold. Click to see big picture (640x430 pixels; 119 KB)
On a slightly larger scale, this rocker-mill in the deserts of Peru is operated by three men who rock a boulder back and forth by shifting their weight on the beam. Click to see big picture (640x424 pixels; 100 KB)