12-02-2005 Arrested!!!

So far so good. Although it was raining we finished the lake San Carlos within 1,5 days. Trying to find the next lake was a different story! All the roads were unpaved and since it had been raining for a couple of days now, the mud was turned into a very slippery substance. The regular bus schedule was cancelled and most people just stayed put. Not us, of course :-)

I have to admit that we had some close encounters with a ditch and some trees but our gardening angel did not let us down. At a cross point we ended up at bar ‘El Indio’ where we asked some directions to the lady of the house. You might wonder why I am giving you this seemingly unimportant information… just wait and see. We safely managed to get to different estancias, but they either had no lake or the owner was not at home. In Estancia ‘Los Huesos’ we talked warden, that told us that the owners were in Buenas Aires and that anyway the change that they would allow us to sample the lake was small since they (the owners) were crazy. (hmmmm?)

Bar El Indio

Finally we got lucky at Estancia Bella Vista. An over 1000 ha large farm with various lakes in our size range. We were heartily received by the owner Claus Fabiny, that showed great interest in our study and offered us his barn where we parked the trailer and put up our laboratory.

Pleased that we had found 3 lakes (one turbid without submerged plants and one clear totally covered by submerged plants, and an intermediate one) we left for Noberto de la Riesta. A small town 10 km away. On our way we passed ‘El Indio’ again. The bar was open and two horses were parked in front. We decided to take a picture. While doing that a man came out and indicated that we should come closer, which we did. The man was angry that we took a picture without asking permission and asked in an aggressive tone who we were. We tried to explain that we just thought his bar was beautiful and that was why we were taking a picture. Happily his wife (who we had met earlier) came to the rescue. She told us that as soon as her husband came home he had asked her who had been around because there were tracks of unknown tires in front of his house… We were dealing with a real Indian here!

He was afraid that we were criminals because it had happened before that people that later turned out to have robbed a nearby farm came to ask for directions. He told us he would call the police, but eventually he cooled down and we could continue our way.

When we arrived at N. de la Riesta the pick-up had disappeared under a 20cm thick layer of mud. We checked into the first and only hotel in the village and while doing that the police came to pay us a visit. They firmly asked us to accompany them to the local police office/jail. After spending 15 minutes just waiting there we were kind of curious why exactly we were there. It turned out that the caretaker of ‘Los Huesos’ had called the police telling them that we robbed her! Incredible! While talking to the police we found out also el Indio had informed them about a unknown vehicle in the surrounding. We were suspects of a crime. To be honest I found it all quite amusing. It never crossed my mind that this could turn out into something really complicated. The police treated us nice and after 1,5 hour (I have no idea based on what) they found us “not guilty” and we were allowed to go. But not after we were physically inspected by a doctor to make sure we were not tortured during interrogation.

I left the police office thinking about the great story I could write for this website, but I also felt sad. Sad, because of the paranoia of the rural people in this otherwise such a peaceful part of the world (the bikes in this village do not even have a lock, something Dutch people can not imagine anymore). Recently the amounts of violent robberies in the countryside around Buenos Aires has increased a lot, and people are clearly weary of strangers going about. I also felt distressed because torture is apparently still a real menace here.


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