Embalse La Paloma, Rio Grande. Monte Patria...South of La Serena...Chile
20th November '14.
A repressed river blocked off to create an industry. A dam wall holding back a merger puddle of irrigatable water, a part fraction of the potential holding. Yet the tidelines, like grubby streaks on a bath's side, show that this was once South America's second largest body of artificially held water. Only it's some time since it was at any form of capacity. Espina trees are growing down in the bed, tamarisks are colonising the old, newly returned river banks, animal corrals are starting to sprout where historically they once would have been. Idyllic pictures on a roadside story board depict a vast, attractive tract of blue water, a fact confirmed in my mind by businesses offering lakeside cabins and boats for hire. Camping by the lake looks distinctly attractive. The shoreline lives on, only the waterline is several kilometres away. The pictures are pre Photoshop, so they're a truth, but what they never tell is a date. It would be intriguing to see a timeline for the lake's slow, decreasing demise. I suspect those tidelines are an arithmetic graphic, each defending mark representing a new trellis of vines, a new parcel of palta, a new orchard of oranges that are clambering up the mountainside. That dam's construction in the early '60s, allowed for a vinicultural revolution in this valley. But I wonder if that industry isn't outgrowing the largesse of its provider. The drilling rigs are already starting to plumb for bore water. Insurance or necessity?
There's something fantastical about the juxtapositioning of Copao cactus, which in a moist Scot's mind says "desert", and the angular regularity of a vinefield.the assault of wet greenery on a dry dunscape. Another battle between nurture and nature.