The End of the Earth

I’m coming to the end of my re-cap of the 2 week trip I took to Patagonia in January of 2012.  It’s been wonderful to think back and write out what I saw and experienced each day, and this process has made me want to go back and hike in El Chalten and visit the beautiful Torres del Paine again.  I hope one day I will.

Last week I went to the American embassy here in Buenos Aires to get more pages added to my passport.  I thought the new pages would go in the back, but they taped and sewed on a small booklet of additional 24 pages in the middle.  Now when I open up my passport, the new crease from the inner booklet takes me to page 19.  On page 19 there is a lone stamp that transports me immediately back to the town of Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego and my trip to Patagonia.  Under the name of the city and a small map of where Ushuaia is located, you find this phrase “la ciudad mas austral del mundo” (the southern most city in the world).

It was Friday, January 13, 2012.  We woke up to an absolute stunner of a day.  From the hilltop where our hotel was located we could see the crisp deep blue skies and the glowing sunlight spreading its warmth across the water before us.  We walked down to the docks early to see if we could do the Beagle Channel cruise.  What better way to take in this gorgeous day, right?  As I said, it was calm and beautiful where we were.  But the cruise was not to be.  Apparently there were high winds miles out in the Channel and no one was sailing that morning.  We were deflated to say the least.  We’d gone out the night before to celebrate Joy’s birthday.  I came back to the hotel after the first bar but the gang had continued on and I didn’t even hear Lynne get back to the room.  I was tired and we’d gotten up early, way too early to get rejected.  Argh.  We tried to salvage the situation by going to the visitor’s office to get our passports stamped…. only to find the doors still locked.  It was too early.

The solution to our problem came in the form of the most adorable little restaurant/museum you can imagine, that will forever be known as what Carola called it- “the green place across the street from the gas station.”  This cozy gem of a restaurant was filled with all kinds of antiques and old posters and just… stuff.  Rows of jars shaped like penguins, giant coffee table photography books on Patagonia, old kerosene lamps, woven baskets, and heaps of freshly baked medialunas (croissants), rolls, and chocolate meringues.  We sat by the window and I felt instantly better when the waiter delivered what we ordered.

We were due back for lunch and another shot at the Beagle Channel cruise at 13:30 so we went to get our passports stamped (it’s self-service and you get to choose your favorite stamp from a box of 4 or 5; you can use all the stamps if it pleases you), picked up some post cards, stopped by the post office, a few souvenir shops lining the main street, etc.

Well, luck was not on our side.  They declared that the winds were too strong for the 3PM boats to sail and we had to think of something to do for the afternoon.  I think my motto should be “when in doubt, hike or walk” because that’s what I always end up doing.  We went up to Glacier Martial, a few kilometers out of town to hike up the mountain.  There were ski lifts you could take up to the lookout point but my group of hikers decided to walk up the steep hill and beyond where the ski lifts ended.  I decided to walk up slowly and do it alone, and when I reached the top where the trail split I chose to stay on a big rock by a quiet stream to just be.  It was nice to know that I could be good company for myself.

Hiking up to Glacier Martial

View from the top: Beagle Channel

One last attempt at the 7PM sailing also failed us and we returned back to the hotel for an evening in.  We all brought a few things up to the dining area and shared them with everyone.  Were the winds really that strong?  Was it to do with the day being Friday the 13th?  Whatever the case we had some time to see the town, hike a bit, and got a cool stamp for my passport.  One more day left to sail out, for Ushuaia, and for Patagonia

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