Sunday, December 13, 2020

Argentina: Farmhands Disappear in Paraje Las Brujas - Hallucinations or Evil Spirits?



Source: Clarín (Argentina)-  Date: 12.13.2020 - An Article by Carlos Guajardo

 Argentina: Farmhands Disappear in Paraje Las Brujas - Hallucinations or Evil Spirits?

 Farmhand Raymundo Pino left his home nearly ten years ago to work at an "estancia" (cattle ranch). The year was 2011, when the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic system had covered everything with ash. Nothing more was ever heard from Raymundo. A search has been ongoing for Narciso Pino, 50, since November 5 this year. He left his home to set up a barbed wire fence, and there's no trace of him. Raymundo and Narciso are cousins, and both earned their living doing the same thing - setting up barbed wire fencing. All of this close to the same village, El Embrujo (The Enchantment).

 The search for Narciso is being conducted using all possible means, much like with his cousin: horses, drones and hounds are involved. Specialized police personnel came in, but everything has been hitherto fruitless. "He can't have suffered the same fate as his cousin. He must he hiding in a cave somewhere. He almost surely got lost. He was drinking a lot of liquor lately," is the word around town.

 To add another bitter note, Gan Gan, a hamlet of the Patagonian plateau with scarcely six hundred inhabitants, free from any COVID-19 cases, suddenly erupted in cases, coinciding with the arrival of people searching for the farmhand. Gan Gan now has 40 active cases and over a hundred people in isolation. Too many, for a community so small that it was safe from the pandemic for almost nine months.

 "The search will not stop," said Andrés Oscar Ibáñez, the sheriff. Narciso Pino is a resident of the plateau region. He went missing from Estancia Los Gurices in the Talagapa area, to the north of Gan Gan, a rural locality 400 kilometers from Rawson.

 "This happened on November 5. The manager of the Los Gurices ranch appeared before us, reporting that he had driven to the ranch, 50 kilometers from Talagapa, to bring Narciso Pino merchandise, only to find that he wasn't there," Sheriff Ibánez told Clarín.


 "There were no signs of violence on the premises that might suggest a criminal act. Search operations commenced, but he has not been found so far," added the sheriff, saying that hound dogs followed Narciso Pino's scent for 30 kilometers to the area known as Bajo Hondo or Guanaco. Pino is being searched for by canine search personnel from Trelew and Puerto Madryn, people on horseback, on motorcycles and on foot. "We've found footprints. He was wearing sneakers, we found the prints, and steered the hounds in that direction. But he has not been found," said Ibáñez.

 The sheriff added that the area poses hazards for the search. "Talagapa - the area where he was lost - has areas with ravines, caves and troughs. The surface is a challenge."

 The search is ongoing with personnel from Gastre, Telsen and Gan Gan. "The Gendarmerie's helicopter conducted a search, and drones were also requested for an aerial view. Unfortunately, no trace has been found, but this will not halt the search," added the police.

 One theory is that Narciso Pino suffered from hallucinations and went into the wilderness. "Pino had set out to work on a barbed wire fence. What's striking is that there was food already on the table at the Los Gurices ranch. There was also sulfur in the wood burning stove. During the course of the investigation, when interviewing the missing man's sons, they said he would [burn sulfur] whenever he heard voices or saw things. He used sulfur to chase them away," explained Sheriff Ibáñez.

 "The place is known as Puesto Las Brujas ("The Witches' Post") where residents say voices and noises can be heard, and that they make locals or workers want to leave and refuse to work. This justifies the presence of sulfur on the stove. “He used sulfur to chase away evil spirits."

 Pino is an alcoholic and the hypothesis favored by the police, confirmed by his sons, is that lack of drink brought about hallucinations, prompting him to rush into the wilderness. "This person is native to the area, he knows it well, is given to walking, doesn't use horses. He walks 20-30 kilometers a day," explained Ibáñez. Raymundo Pino, Narciso's cousin, also vanished without a trace in the same area, ten years ago.

 Raymundo had left Gan Gan on his way to the same cattle ranch and was never heard from again. Like his cousin, he worked at setting up and repairing wire fencing. The disappearance could have an explanation: it occurred at the time in which ash from the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle eruption covered the area. The ash was deeper than two meters (6 1/2 feet) in some locations, causing cattle deaths and many losses. It's possible that Raymundo Pino, who isn't a rider either, became disoriented.

 That search was also harrowing, and Narciso is still missing. Now the town believes that Estancia El Embrujo has a lot to do with it. The strange noises and voices of unknown origin are the talk of the town. "It's witchery," they say. The search for Narciso is ongoing, and it will not stop until he is found, in the words of sheriff Ibàñez.

 [Translation (c) 2020 Scott Corrales, IHU with thanks to Andrés Salvador]