Thursday, June 24, 2010

Catching Up: January, Part II

As I am sure you are now accustomed, I'm going with mainly photographs for the time being. I promise, though, that February will have more words than pictures. Well, I dunno. Maybe you like the pictures better.

When we last left our heroes, they were traipsing across glaciers in the Patagonia. From there, we headed even further south, to Tierra del Fuego. Our home base for the last three days of the trip was the town of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Once again, click on any photo to embiggen. Here's what happened!

Old school photoshop. Just kidding. This was taken at the jail in Ushuaia. Originally there were nothing but natives, but the white folk, smallpox, and measles made quick work of that. Of course, given the harsh winter, nobody wanted to settle here, so the government decided the best thing would be to build a prison. Repeat offenders and harsh criminals were sent here. More importantly, people arrived to work at the prison, which built up the town at the southern end of the country.

We took the "Train at the end of the world," which had some nice sights along the way, but mostly got us from here to there. This picture was taken at the only (brief) stop along the way. Incidentally, the prisoners were the ones who built the railroad to begin with, often times in extremely harsh winter conditions.

The Wild Horses at the End of the World

The entire area is surrounded by the end of the Andes. This is the only part of Argentina on the other side of the mountain range. That led to spectacular views like this one.

Pan de Indio - literally translates to Indian Bread because the natives used to eat it. It's a fungus that attacks trees. The forest was loaded with them. Every few minutes we heard a "thunk", as another Pan de Indio fell from its perch. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, we tasted them. My two word summary of the flavor: malty watery.

Andrew and Belu at the End of the World!

The stream at the End of the World!

The entire city of Ushuaia. I know it's hard to see. Click to make it bigger. This would be an amazing place to live.* Just so peaceful and picturesque. (*only in the summer because in winter it would just be dark and cold all the time)

We ate loads of fresh crab. Heavenly.

Then we played with our food.

You can't tell by the picture, but these sea lions are hanging out on a big rock way out in the middle of the Beagle Channel.

I think I took about 23 pictures of Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. This is the one you get to see.

The Birds at the end of the world!

I promised you penguins...

...and so penguins you have! Unfortunately, we didn't book the tour where you can get off the boat and walk around with them. We're not sure if that's even legal, but some lucky tourists got the up-close-and-personal view.

Lago Escondido. Well named because it pretty much just appeared out of nowhere.

An older couple on their dream vacation...

...and a younger one with many more in their future.

Belu shows off the latest in trans-lago fashion.

Natalia shows off... well, it's basically the same concept.

...which leaves Brad at a loss for creativity.

Note the Austrians on the left. They made fine companions.

What are these people laughing at?

This guy! A crazy dog who repeatedly jumped into the lake before returning to shed water on all nearby. We named him Blackie because we weren't feeling creative. But he was hilarious.

On board with Luciana, our fantastic tour guide. After taking this outboard across the lake, we hiked through the woods, saw a beaver dam (but no damn beavers). The next phase was canoeing on Lago Escondido. That would have been a blast except it rained the entire time - hard. But it made the asado that followed all the more fulfilling.

We finished up the tour at the serene Lago Fagnano.

Across the lake, you can see Chile (which boasts the southernmost village in the world, but don't tell the Argentines that!).

No, we didn't leave Ushuaia this way, but wouldn't it have been cool if we did?

I don't think I've given enough words to the sublime town of Ushuaia. While El Calafate boasted natural wonder, this was a place where you really wanted to be. Sure, there were still plenty of people looking to take money from the tourists, but you can see that there is a real town with real life here. I don't know if I'll return to El Calafate. Someone will probably want to see the glaciers, definitely a sight to behold. So I'll surely go along. But if I were to pick a summer home in the south of Argentina, there's no question that Ushuaia is the clear front-runner. Of course, I still have to check out Bariloche and Rio Negro and probably sixteen other places. Good thing this country is so wonderfully huge.

1 comment:

Julia said...

JEALOUS! Never made it to Ushuaia. We decided it was that or the whole country of Bolivia and Bolivia won that one. Now I wish we could have done them both! I've always heard mixed things about Ushuaia and you've tipped the scales for me. I'm totally going next time.

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