We ventured a bit off the beaten path to Palena, Chile, a sleepy town south of Futaleufu and near the border with Argentina. We drove the fifty KMs to the town for fuel and few grocery items. We were running low, and they have a small COPEC gas station there. Since we’re so remote, it was actually the closest gas station to us.
While we were in town, the power to the whole town went out. We had to pay for our fuel with cash since credit card machines would not work. This left us with only $7 to grocery shop. Pickings were slim in stores, but we found a store with some eggs and crackers and could cover the $4 bill with cash.
After snacking on our crackers in the park, we noticed that people were coming in and out of the bank ATM. As it turns out, the bank had a generator or battery that powered the ATM during the power outage. This concept allowed commerce to continue in the town. Since credit card machines couldn’t run, people could still pull cash out of the ATM and buy goods and services.
We pulled some money out of the ATM, and then went to the only restaurant we saw open in town. The town had a gas fired pizza oven, so we were able to order a pizza despite the restaurant being without power.
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