October in Patagonia means springtime and the end of the cold southern winter – a time to celebrate. But this month, our community here and in Chile has suffered a loss that seems especially untimely during this season of natural rebirth. On October 15th, we learned of the passing of Pablo Carrasco, a longtime friend, supporter, and employee of both the Pumalin and Valle Chacabuco projects. After battling cancer for several months, Pablo died in Santiago at age 62.
Pablo began working at Parque Pumalin nine years ago and was an integral member of the team at the Future Patagonia National Park since its inception. As the story goes, when he first heard that the purchase of Estancia Valle Chacabuco had been approved, Pablo drove all night down the rocky dirt road in order to reach the Estancia by morning. Foreseeing the upheaval that this news might cause among the locals, he wanted to reach them before the official word did in the hopes of quelling their fears and rumors before they began. He went of his own accord to build confidence among the people who trusted him, people who already knew him for who he was: a voice from the local community, and a lifelong protector of Patagonia’s natural beauty.
It was also at Valle Chacabuco that Pablo met Alejandra Bardavid, with whom he would spend the rest of his life. Though their time together was relatively short, it was, as she said, “the connection of a lifetime.”
Friends and acquaintances of “Don Pablo Carrasco” recall his vivid and free-spirited personality, his love of music, his smile, and his singular sense of humor. But perhaps most of all, Pablo will be remembered for his deep connection to nature. This legacy is reflected in his final wish for his ashes to be scattered in the Baker River. The freedom of its current and the ongoing fight to keep it wild represent so much of who Pablo was, and it is where his loved ones will come to rejoice in his memory. So, in the end, it is not wrong to celebrate the arrival of spring even when we are feeling the pain of this loss. It is surely what he would have wanted.