Strife in Patagonia

A few weeks ago a friend informed me of the troubles that Thom Hogan had on a recent workshop to Chilean Patagonia. I read his article with interest but I had a few issues with it.

Firstly, on all the travels I have made over the past 10 years, one thing has been a constant: nothing stays the same and most countries have periods of instability.

Secondly, the rest of the world is not like the west. As a westerner, we live in relatively stable environments where most of the time, things happen when we expect them to happen.

I was aware by reading Thom's posting that he and his group had a very tough time in Chile and that certainly, some aspects of how the country dealt with the strike could have been much better.

But the fact is, that I feel Thom's article has done nothing but damage his own possible business of returning to Chile some day to to a future workshop, has tarnished the tourism industry in that region (from reading Thom's posting, he feels they've done it to themselves, but we're talking about a time of unrest when things happen that don't make sense) and he's put photographers off a region of the world for a much longer time than the strike or future strikes may occur.

Certainly, it is worth being aware of issues in a part of the world if you are planning on visiting, and making your plans being fully informed is no bad thing. But his article came over as overly-sensationalist, particularly his use of the word 'hostage' and by also recommending people boycott the region.

For what it's worth, I've been there over seven times now and on each occasion I've had nothing but good experiences. The Chilean people are very warm and friendly.

If I were considering traveling there over the next few months, I would certainly take into account that there is a continuing issue with fuel prices in the region and make my plans accordingly, but it wouldn't put me off going there in future.

If I were to boycott any region of the world where there was instability, I would be severely restricted to where I went. Just one look at the British Consulate web site is enough to make you feel you shouldn't step foot outside of the UK, but it is this over-dramatic representation that puts people off for good. The world is in constant change, prices go up, places have a strike, the strike is off. It's unfortunate that these things happen, but I wouldn't try to persuade others not to go to a country or a region because you were unlucky to get caught up in some issue whilst there.