The Quiet Life: Faustino in Patagonia
In a small cabin built from a shipwrecked fishing vessel on South Patagonia’s Lake O’Higgins lives a cattle herder whose quiet life has become a legend. Amidst the region’s peaking fjords and flooded valleys, 81-year-old Faustino Barrientos has lived in complete solitude for 47 years with little to no interaction with outsiders other than his small cattle of sheep and cow. He, himself, is a mysterious man who keeps his secrets in solitude — reminiscent of The Old Man and the Sea. Yet his name and reputation for being a modern-day gaucho (the original Chilean cowboy) is widely known in the nearby villages. From the looks of his backyard, we can see the temptation of such self-imposed isolation.
For four days, four Vice reporters took their cameras (and impressive North Face gear) to interrupt Faustino’s humble bunker to experience the quiet life of the gaucho. Today, they’ve posted the last chapter to their four-part segment, “Faustino’s Patagonian Retreat,” which is the second installment to Vice’s Far Out series (see Part 1 below).
Aside from its seamless cinematography of Patagonia’s untouched scenery, the short documentary takes a captivating snapshot of Faustino’s true gaucho spirit. A cattle herder in the 1960s who migrated during Chile’s economic crisis to be a construction worker in Argentina, Faustino returned to his homeland in 1965 to live in solitude. Since then, he has inhabited one of Chile’s last frontiers. He’s stayed in-tune (remarkably well) with world politics, science and futbol through brief radio programs and the sporadic newspapers he receives along with seasonal shipments of food and wine. And when the times get rough (should an intruder attempt to steal his cattle or his fate be tested during a brief encounter with a murderous trail blazer), Faustino gets his gun.
The segment looks at the simple pleasures and remarkable adventures (both good and bad) of the original Chilean gaucho lifestyle set in one of the most unspoiled destinations in the world. This is something we could get into.
Vice’s Faustino’s Patagonian Retreat — Part 1