Here I am then, El Fin del Mundo (TM), otherwise known as Ushuaia, right down at the bottom of the South America. The end of my overland trip and the start of the sailing, as of Friday. In the meantime, still a lot to do in Ushuaia and the surrounding Tierra del Fuego. As ever, more photos can be seen here.
I got here this lunchtime after a relatively quick flight down from El Cal. Coming in to land was an experience as we seemed to descend through unremitting cloud cover - it stayed "grey" outside for so long I was beginning to wonder if Ushuaia was actually down there. But suddenly, the clouds broke and we were coming in over the Beagle Channel, heading west in to the town. And by god, what a grey and choppy sea it looked - and this is the Beagle Channel! "Gulp" might be the best way to describe my reaction... Perhaps I needed to reconsider and take a boat like this one:
Perhaps this rust bucket sitting in the front of the harbour in Ushuaia was a potent warning, left to all travellers considering venturing out of its safety...
Or perhaps it was just a case of Latin laziness leaving the thing to rust there in such public view?? Who knows, and enough of my easy cliches :) Of course, the boat, the one I have travelled all this way to join was also there in the harbour. Sitting rather bizarrely and perhaps uncomfortably between the large cruise ship and what I think might be icebreakers. But clearly she wins on the elegance front, don't you think:
All the Eurocrats and assorted Brussels coterie should be pleased to note the EU Flag proudly fluttering - if that's the right word to describe it in a "stiff breeze" - from the top of the mast.
Unfortunately I couldn't get closer to the boat as you have to get in via the port authorities and I didn't have the official embarcation letter with me. But well, enough time for that on Friday.
So this is Ushuaia. Looking out over the Beagle Channel, looking to the east and the direction I think we'll sail on Friday evening. In the afternoon I took some time to walk up the foothills of the town to take these pictures. The town is surrounded to the north by mountains, all snow capped but these pictures are looking south. I guess in the broad direction of Cape Horn.
The pictures I took of the mountains immediately behind Ushuaia didn't come out, my attempts at fancy photography mixing sun, clouds and mountains clearly, and patently, came to nothing. I'm staying in a great little B&B, just up the hill from the main town. I have a lovely room in the loft with a view out over the channel, reminding me just how choppy it looks!
Now I'm down in the lounge writing this and chatting to a Dutch couple who are also in the B&B. It would appear that most of Holland is in Ushuaia - the airport was full of Dutch people and I have heard lots of Dutch in town. This got me thinking about the boat, it's Dutch after all. Are they all coming on the it I mused? Will I be the only non-Dutchie? Will they take their revenge on the sole Englishman abroad for wrongs of the past? Probably not, but hey, one can never know... :)
And so to tomorrow, my last full day on dry land before the grand depart. I have decided to keep up my fitness push and signed up to a trek AND canoe outting in the Tierra del Fuego national park. It's all day long. Should prepare me just nicely for the trip. On that point, I'm off to sort out my gear and peruse the maps I bought today: one of the Drake Passage and the other of Antarctica (helpfully with all the famous shipwrecks - nothing like a positive outlook!). I shall photograph them and add them to the blog when time permits.