Day 8 Sun 12th Jan 2014
“Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double” (The Clash, c.mid-late 70s)
Clearly, when faced with such a conundrum, one should go and deal with the trouble rather than stay and face the double trouble. Duh. But hang on … rather than facing trouble in an unknown future place might it not be better to stay put and deal with double trouble in a familiar place? Perhaps it really is a conundrum. Regardless, it is time for us to move on from Gaiman and cross the arid paith/estapa/steppe to get to Esquel in the far west. Not that we are expecting trouble in Gaiman: far from it. We have done far more interviews and collected far more data than we had hoped. Without exception, the people of Gaiman and Trelew have been fantastically helpful, willingly coming forward to be interviewed and even going out of their way to show us around the valley and dig out old documents, including a potential goldmine of a scare, partially water-damaged 1950 report that had documented in great hydrological detail some of the floods of the past. We could stop here and be satisfied with our work and deal with any incoming trouble (or, if you will, bad luck), double or not. But let’s try and continue to ride the wave of anti-trouble (good luck) while it lasts.
The Clash’s troubling lyrics have always made me contemplate luck, both bad and good. Bad luck does seem to comes in waves (double, triple or quadruple bad luck?), as does good luck. This seems also to be the case with many natural phenomena, including flood and drought. In arid environments particularly, several years of above average rainfall and flooding are then followed by several years of below average rainfall and drought, but the start and finish of each wave is hard to predict. In crossing the arid paith/estapa/steppe, will our good luck run out and a wave of bad luck start again? Some of the place names along or near to our proposed route are foreboding: Los Altares (The Altars – of sacrifice?), Valle de los Mártires (Valley of the Martyrs – what the …?), Paso del Sapo (Crossing of the Toad – huh?) and so on …. It’s not the threat of skirmishes with the locals, unexpected wildlife or dying of thirst that bothers me, but the potential threat of potholes and punctures on the gravel parts of the route ahead. Watch this space ….