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Mighty Magallenes

all seasons in one day 5 °C
View 100 days/ 100 gün on ayca ozer's travel map.

5 am bus out of Ushuaia, but it's light out, the feel is similar to those times when we caught the school bus back in the days. Not only the brightness of an early school day, but also the crowd waiting for the bus reminds me of the school days as almost all of the international passengers are young enough to attend high school or maybe first year at uni the most. Light freezing drizzle forces all to take shelter under the small roof outside some small government office by the bus parking lot. We are lucky to be in our host Jack's car in the meantime, making small talk waiting for the bus. Jack, our AirBnB host, kindly offered to take us to the bus station in the wee ours, and we are grateful, for obvious reasons.
Bus tickets for the one and only daily bus out of here is very hard to find, especially in high season, since it is the only "budget" option to get out of here, and there are tons who want to move on to elsewhere, just like us.
Once on the bus, we succumb to sweet sleep in minutes, crib like movement of the double decker bus helps... And we end up missing experiencing the way down from the hills to the pampa!
It later turns out to be a clear but a very windy morning. Strong winds blowing westward from the Atlantic, from the right side of the bus to the left as we're heading to the Magellan Channel up north. Not much in sight on the left side of the bus, other than groups of some small houses in the vast mostly flat country. Not much traffic either, a car or a truck passes by every 15 minutes or so.
As we get nearer the Atlantic Ocean we stop at a border crossing facility, where we take care of what turns out to be the beginning of an endless trail of paperwork.
We then head on to the only dirt road beyond the facility, in to the no-man's land between Argentina and Chile, a strip of land that runs parallel to the ocean. There are no humans out here but plenty of wildlife as we spot the first set guanacos, foxes etc.
At the Chilean border, strict regulations require all food items to be thrown out, a government policy to protect the flora and fauna of the nation. Sniffer dogs go thru all luggage and suspected bags are picked out for further investigation.
Second set of documents complete, we proceed in to the Chilean countryside that leads to the majestic Magallanes Channel.
On the uneven dirt road we travel for hours. The sun is gone and now sleet pounding the west side of the bus. We stop in the middle of nowhere, but there can't be a stop to pick up people here? No, it's not a stop but it's repair time. Apparently hail shattered one of the bottom floor passenger side windows and the crew are busy taping a large trash bag over the opening, while lower deck passengers move upstairs.
On the straight endless road we finally come to an end, it is the ferry landing.
Beach head type ferries open up their gargantuan mouths like sperm whales and take in all the vehicles and pedestrians they can.
Vehicles limed up on the deck, Pedestrians head up to the narrow passenger quarters to sit face to face in the meter and a half wide cabin, luckily there are some windows to look out.
We set sail on to the Mighty Magellanes Channel and as we leave the shore behind, some serious waves start to shake the boat. Buses shimmy on the deck while passengers squeezed in like sardines wave in harmony in the cabin, not a place for those prone to seasickness.
Looking out the window curious to see the sizes of the waves, we spot a few Commerson's dolphins with black and white patches, playing a hide and seek game with the sperm whale of a ferry we're on.
30 minutes later, we get off the ferry first, then come the vehicles off the ferry. We have successfully crossed the channel, The channel that changed the navigation history by making it possible for boats to head out the Pacific, thanks to Magellan.
A little while later, once more, we stop at the border crossing, this time from Chile back to Argentina, finally.
We change busses in Rio Gallegos, a town with tin roofed one story houses and thunderous winds and nothing else.
The new bus gets on the road as the clouds adorn pre-sunset hues of various pinks and violets, it is a pretty sky. Flat lands, small hills, endless pampa steppes, funny animals, ranch fences along the endless seeming road, exactly 20 hours after we got on the first bus in Ushuaia, we finally reach El Calafete at 1 o'clock in the morning. We walk thru the cold and deserted streets to reach our hotel, where we are deemed no-show because it's the next day already. We are showed to our room and we pass out immediately.

Posted by ayca ozer 15:36 Archived in Argentina Tagged chile del argentina dolphin border ferry channel tierra ushuaia fuego pampa magellanes steppe

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