19.12.2013 - 20.12.2013 10 °C
When we decided to head out to South America, we never really meant to travel thru Patagonia because it seemed to be a big detour from our initial route to cover the middle parts of the continent, but after being on the road for a few weeks, we figured this would be a great opportunity to do it, or we would feel sorry for the rest of our lives, perhaps...
Patagonia, as mostly seen on documentaries, is a very special land with its dull looking steppe vastness, rich flora and fauna with numerous antipodean animal species, glorious mountain ranges that offer exceptional hiking opportunities even for us city slickers and excessive expensiveness geared towards tourism.
We bit the bullet and made it down to Ushuaia, Argentine capital of Tierra Del Fuego, aka El Fin Del Mundo-The End of the World! Or The "Southernmost city" in the world (Port Williams, Chile, only accessible by boat or plane, is actually 30 mins farther south than Ushuaia, across the Beagle Channel, but their PR people failed to come up with "the" punchline back when).
Crisp air welcomes you as you step out of the Alpine chalet looking airport in Ushuaia. Winter jackets prove to be essential. We watched the setting waiting for a cab, numerous snow capped mountains surround the port town, short forests circle mountain necks, colorful city laid out on the bottom of the hills.
We arrive at our host's house to find a note on the door telling us that he is out to pick up his wife Marta from the airport and the door is unlocked for us to go in and make ourselves comfortable. So we do. In about 10 mins our hosts appear at the door and we welcome them to their own Casa de Tulipanes, named after Dutch tulips planted in the garden, a touch to remind our host Jack of his hometown. After a brief intro, we are told that there is Turkish coffee and a proper copper "cezve" to make it in the house! so we take the opportunity to really make ourselves feel at home. Jack is eager to have some coffee as he has never tasted it before, and hearing that, one little cup of coffee will reveal his future makes him a little nervous at the beginning, but he later gets in the mood once he understands the "tricks" of the trade.
Next up was the usual city tour to figure out what's where and to plan the upcoming days. Many excursion options start spinning our heads and finally decide to head out to sea for some animal watching and other bits (will be covered later in a separate entry).
In the meantime, thanks to a fellow RIPA member, via email we are advised to head down to Ushuaia Rugby Club to watch the Seven El Fin Del Mundo; obviously southernmost rugby sevens tournament in the world, and we do as we're told. Played at the end of the regular southern hemisphere season, this tournament brings in a bunch of regional teams as well as very promising U16 and U18 boys teams, providing a great family event.
Later at the prison museum we see that, Ushuaia was first set up as a penal colony in the 19th century. Convicts who thought it might be a better deal to go down to Ushuaia instead of getting locked in a barrio cell in Buenos Aires, rushed down to here with the idea of having some sort of a freedom compared to the "El Barrio Prison" by the docks. Some convicts even married women who moved here seeking stability.
In any-case, Ushuaia does feel like the end of the world as it is relatively easy to get to, but it's difficult to get out, at least for us, as we're stuck in town for one more day since the one and only bus out is fully booked. So we end up staying an extra day in Ushuaia, and it turns out to be a much needed relaxing day at House of Tulips watching the late late sunset out the window on one of the longest days of the year.