DUSK ON THE CAMPO by Sara Mansfield Taber


A Journey in Patagonia
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 A sympathetic account of the unexpected richness and resilience of life in a certified end-of-the-earth place-- Patagonia--by a young American woman who learned as much about herself there as about the region. Comprising the southernmost 1600-kilometer stretch of South America, Argentinean Patagonia is a semi-desert where the wind blows for weeks across the flat landscape and water is as precious as fuel. The descendants of Welsh farmers and a succession of immigrants, many from the Basque region of Spain, most of today's Patagonians live on vast estancias, where sheep are raised. Too poor to afford enough arable land, they tend to be tenant farmers for the owners, who live in Buenos Aires. Taber and her husband, who lived in Patagonia in 1978-79 and in 1984-85 at an isolated camp on the coast, came to study whales. Initially confident of her own self-sufficiency, Sara was soon driven by the early winter evenings, the relentless winds, and the isolation to seek company, and she befriended the nearest local couple. Moved by the Patagonians' warmth and stoicism in the face of loneliness and unceasing hard work, she began visiting their homes and attending senaldas, an annual festivity in which far-flung neighbors come to help with the castrating and tail-docking of new lambs. The old ways, Taber regretfully discovered, were disappearing as families, wanting to educate their children, increasingly worked in the towns rather than on the Campo. And as for herself, she learned that ``rather than going alone the key to living in any wilderness was to join with others. The old Patagonians showed me...that open vulnerability is the definition of dignity.'' Occasionally awkward--the search for personal answers doesn't quite fit--but the vivid descriptions of the land and its people, and the palpable affection Taber feels for both, are more than adequate compensation.

Pub Date: July 29th, 1991
ISBN: 0-8050-1473-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991


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