This southernmost tip of South America marks the end of the Andes, with spectacular horned peaks carved by hundreds of active glaciers. The rugged terrain and violent climate ensure that only the hardiest animals — and humans — can endure. (When 50 mph winds blasted us with freezing rain, our film crew huddled in our modern weather gear, while the baqueanos, in their shirt sleeves and leather vests, watched in amusement.)
Cowboy culture came late, around 1800, to this remote outpost, which in our film represents the last step of cowboy development in South America. And the region's lack of roads and scarcity of gasoline have kept the local cowboy, and pack horse, in business. Baqueanos — literally "pathfinders" — are often freelancers, making their living where and how they are needed, herding cattle and horses, or leading pack trains of supplies from one place to another.
In fact, these free spirits are today probably the closest to the storied American cowboy of the mid-19th century. Several times while filming, we would spot a lone rider, leading two horses packed with his sparse belongings and trailed by his two or three dogs, trotting across the vast, desolate landscape, on his way to unknown adventures.