“They came out here at the ass-end of the recession and the oil crisis, plenty rich and plenty ambitious,” Crohn said, shouting to be heard over the whine of the De Haviland’s engines. “The whole Southern Cone was in the pocket of right-wing juntas back then, and they were see-no-evil outfits. You had the money, they had room for you.”

“Fascinating,” Kimber said, a little weary from the latter’s constant lecturing during what had turned out to be a three-hour flight.

“It helped that the place they chose was in Patagonia, which doesn’t have much population density even if you count the sheep, and it was even more deserted back then,” continued Crohn, obliviously. “The road was and still is a muddy two-track; most of their stuff had to be flown in to the airstrip. They dammed a river to provide electricity and started raising sheep and wheat.”

Kimber nodded, wondering how Crohn was able to shout for such extended periods of time without going hoarse. Through the window, the absurd view of a grain elevator next to a large red American-style barn was visible. SETTLEMENT OF NEW INDUSTRY was written on the barn’s roof in reflective paint, though only in English.

“They built the place up pretty well, but it’s way down from the peak population. Probably no more than 150, 200 people left…just barely enough to run things.”

As the De Haviland came in for its landing, Kimber could see a small city laid out on a grid, its houses built of stone and wood in the early-to-mid century style. Remembering Crohn’s lecture about the artistic and aesthetic opinions of the founders, who saw themselves as leaving behind the sterile and mass-produced design style of the oil crisis era, Kimber was able to pick out a lot of ornamental detail…and very few places that still seemed to be inhabited.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!