In the middle of nowhere, there is a town…

I’m originally from Argentina. It’s a big country.

Big like it’s the eighth largest country in the world.

Big like it’s all in the same timezone but spans several climates and landforms.

Big like you can drive for miles and miles and not see another soul. There’s a lot of middle-of-nowhere in that expanse.

Earlier this year, I drove from Buenos Aires to Patagonia with my family. The trip is roughly 1580km (a little under 1000 miles) and about 18 hours and a half, if you don’t stop.

It’s maybe the third or fourth time I’ve made the trip and I love it. I love the south of Argentina, but I also love the drive down. Listening to music, and looking out the window is like reaching a meditative state. You get to this point where your mind is as empty as the terrain and you can just absorb how vast the space is, and how little we are in it.

Because there is so much nothingness, you need to plan your stops. You need to check where the gas stations are. There are a few well-known ones, and then there are some middle-of-nowhere towns. I have always been a little fascinated by these places. If you don’t stop: they’re there and then they’re not, in the blink of an eye. That’s how small they are. They’re usually made up of a gas station, a school, a few houses, and an almacén or grocery store. There’s always a gomería or tire shop. What you see is what you get.

As we passed these towns I couldn’t help wondering what it’s like to live there. These people live in the same country as me, but for all intents and purposes, they live in an alternate reality.

A guy on Instagram

After my trip, I met up with a friend to catch up and we got to talking about this middle-of-nowhere towns. He told me that there is a guy on Instagram (of course there is) who travels the country in a van, with his dogs, his drone, and his camera, and stops in all these towns.

The friendly nomad takes a few aerial shots, walks around, he talks to people. He drinks mate* and looks at the town, and then he uploads stories to tell the rest of the world: in the middle of nowhere, there is a town…

I’ll admit, after my friend shared his account, I kind of forgot about it. Every once in a while, I’ll see one of his stories on Instagram and vaguely remember the trip, and that feeling of endless emptiness. Pause. Breathe. I’ll read the post and wonder again what it’s like to live in a place like that. Usually, I’ll move on to the next story.

Los Indios

Then one day he posted a story about Los Indios, and the story stayed with me. I don’t know what it was about this story that stuck. It’s not as remote as other towns he’s visited, and nowhere near as remote as the ones we saw on the drive south, but something about this post got my attention.

The town is located in the province of Buenos Aires (more than 240km from Buenos Aires’ city center) and is currently home to 60 people.

Just 60 people.

In the post, he interviewed this man. Open, happy, and proud to talk about this town. He said something along the lines of “For me this is normal. Why would I leave? I know people from the cities stop by and ask “how can you live like this? there’s nothing here”. But for someone like me, I’ve lived here all my life, I wouldn’t change it for anything. The tranquility you have here, I wouldn’t change that for anything.”

He wouldn’t change it for anything. We say empty, he says peace.

It’s crazy that living in the middle of nowhere, in a town that is getting smaller and smaller, the residents have such a strong sense of belonging.

I learned that annually, on the Sunday closest to July 31st, they celebrate the foundation of Los Indios: there is a ceremony and “artistic shows”. According to the municipality’s page, it’s the date ex-neighbors mark for the reencuentro, which loosely translates to “finding each other again”.

Once upon a time a lot, if not all, of these middle-of-nowhere towns where connected by train. Once upon a time, our trains connected a lot of places. Many trains have stopped working over the years, and it got me thinking of all these tracks that took so much work to place and are now half covered in grass. And all these places and people they used to connect. The man in the video talks about how young people leave and new people don’t come in. The municipality page says there were over 2000 people back in 1940, 88 people by 1991, now there’s 60. How many people need to live there for it to be considered a town?

In the middle of nowhere, there is a town… and now you know about it

Los Indios doesn’t have a hundred residents, it doesn’t have a working train or buses that stop by, but their municipality has a landing page about them, you can see photos of it on Instagram, and you are reading about it on Medium now. I don’t know what’s crazier to me, that people live like that: 59 neighbors and nothing to see for miles or that you are reading about it online.

PS: If you want to see the Instagram account, his handle is @gui10road his posts & videos are in Spanish, but images are worth a thousand (no-need-to-translate) words ;)

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Agnes

Agnes

220 Followers

Slow runner, fast walker. I have dreamed in different languages. I read a lot. Yes, my curls are real.