My last couple of weeks in BA were fairly laid back. I kept up at the gym and added some spinning to my regimen. So, I had 5 workouts a week with my trainer, 5 cardio sessions and the occasional spin session. I’ve been really good about the gym and eating well so I’ve been taking off a lot of weight. The plan is to continue in Santiago and see how far I can get. I’ve been good about keeping control over the weight I have. I just need some dedicated gym time to take off what’s still left.
I had some friends out from Chile the first weekend in December. So, I played tour guide again – maybe I can should stay here and do city tours. I’m getting quite good at it. The best was going out with my friends. BA has such an incredible nightlife and I’ve hardly taken as much advantage as I should have. But, school and gym kept me fairly busy and tired! Friday night we went out to Amerika. Saturday, after a dinner at a tango show bar, Mariela and I went to Pachá, regarded as one of the best clubs in the city. We hated it though – everyone was more interested in how they looked and who was looking at them rather than kicking back and enjoying themselves. So, we would up at The Living Room where we danced to music from the 90s…until 5ish (typical of BA). So, after seeing the sun come up on my walk back home, I went to bed.
On Saturday, December 15, I grabbed my 5:30AM flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. I had quite a shock when I ran into two Spaniards I met in Iguazu back in October, Carmen and Paolo. It turned out that they were headed to Ushuaia and that we were staying at the same hostel. This stuff never happens to me.
I got checked into the hostel, dropped my stuff off and headed into Ushuaia. It’s a cute little town that’s apparently grown significantly over the past couple of years – aided by the government designating it as a tax-free zone. After lunch, I headed to a travel agency to book my tours in Ushuaia, one to the National Park and the other was a boat cruise on the Beagle Channel. I also got information on a last minute deal to Antarctica that I wanted to think about.
I met up with the Spaniards and the rest of their crew and we hung out the rest of the day. The hostel was a total social and party place. It was great meeting up with people from all over, Spain, Brazil, the US, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand. Every night was a party; I think I may remember Ushuaia as much for that as for the scenery.
On Sunday, I got up and went to my tour through the National Park. Our first stop was to take the “End of the World Train” which passes through the park on the last few kilometers of the Pan American highway whose other end is in Alaska. After seeing some amazing scenery, we boarded our bus again to pass through other parts of the park. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to walk more. But, the scenery was amazing nonetheless. Afterwards, I treated myself to a king crab lunch – the area’s specialty.
On Monday, I got up to go sailing on the Beagle Channel. The weather was quite cold and windy, but the views were spectacular. I went out on a double decker catamaran with only about 20 people. As we sailed away from Ushuaia, we had an incredible view of the town against the mountains that border it to the north. Our first stop was Isla de los Aves, or the bird island to see the Cormorans. Our next stop was Isla Lobos, Sea Lion Island. I’m a little sea-lioned-out after the Galapagos. But, it’s always fun to see them playing around. We then headed further out the channel to pass the old historic lighthouse. It was smaller than I expected but I got some great shots of it. Our final stop of the day was to the Estancia Harberton one of the first farms in the region. It no longer is a working farm, but it has been maintained as it was back in the 1800s.
After returning to Ushuaia, I headed to the travel agency to book the Antarctica trip. I figured that I was so close that I should take the opportunity to see the unspoiled continent. After completing the paperwork, I returned to the hostel, got online and started canceling my trips to other parts of Patagonia that I had booked since the trip would be leaving on Wednesday. On Tuesday, I returned to the travel agency to learn that by the time my information reached the boat company, the “last minute” spots had been sold. I was disappointed, but didn’t regret giving it a shot. All it means is that I wasn’t meant to go right now. I decided to stay in Ushuaia a few more days and go directly to Puerto Madryn from Ushuaia.
The rest of the week was fairly laid back during the day. But, at night, the hostel really hummed. We had a big blow out the night before the Spaniards left on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, we had a big BBQ with lamb, beef, beer, caipirinhas and wine. This week I saw 3 sunsets – granted the sun rises much earlier here, but still, I am so not used to this.
On Thursday, Gustavo (Brazilian) and I took a 10km walk to Playa Larga (Long beach). It followed the channel and we got some great shots of the channel and of Ushuaia from afar. We also came upon some Germans traveling in a Winnebago they had imported into the Americas from Europe. Friday was the equinox, here the longest day of the year. So, I wanted to see the sunset at the southernmost city in the world on the longest day of the year. Unfortunately, mother nature didn’t provide a spectacular sunset as others had been during the week, but I still got some nice pics of the city at night.
The weather here is completely crazy. I’ve been to a lot of places where the weather changes quickly. But, here is the place where it’s the most noticeable of them all. One minute it’s sunny, the next it’s windy and overcast. The next it might be raining and then be back to sunny. It’s crazy. The topography of the area and its geographic proximity (54° 48′ 0″ South, 68° 18′ 0″ West) make the weather completely unpredictable while at the same time offering multiple micro-climates.
I had a great week although I probably could’ve spent a day or two less here given the activities available. But, the social aspect was excellent having met some great people who were all intent on having a good time. Now it’s off to Puerto Madryn to see the penguins and if I’m lucky, a whale or two.
Originally Published December 22, 2007
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