|Well, finally...I could almost take a nap waiting for this machine to connect, ha! I'm hoping that I can at least update this date!! (it is the 22nd today, trying to use the "free" internet at the hostel since cheapest internet outside is $4 US per hour).
Bus left at 9.45 but ended up going back to terminal because 3 passengers had papers which were not in order to allow them to cross border thru Chile (bus goes via a gravel road thru Chile to get to Ushuaia). Finally arr. at the border 1.30 and the ckg of passports, etc. incl the elimination of fresh fruit/veggies...they take it all or you eat it. We leave border area 2 hrs. later and at 7 pm cross back into Argentina. This time the bus personnel just collect our passports and take them in to get stamped, not much wait.
The landscape is pretty boring...brown/tan, dry, bunch grasses, occasional sheep, geese in standing water, guanacos or a few rhea. I play cards w/ seat mate, a 33 yr old NZ gal who's been travelling 2 mos. after quitting her mktg. job in London (events promotion) of 3 yrs. Before that she worked in Australia - been away from home 10 yrs and is now returning end of Jan. Very good conversation and card player (Gin rummy), almost beat me, ha! It's now 10.30 and sun just set but still plenty of light outside!
Arr in Ushuaia 12.45 am, cold, windy walk to Yakush Hostel where we made reservations a month ago. Not what internet site showed! Small room, very low bunk beds (pics on net showed indiv beds) and bathrooms a block away...walk thru reception, past front doors...not a good situation.
Bon and I up early to chk out other hostels, find Los Lupinos which is not only a better situation overall, but 20p less per day per person ($5 US). So will move tomor...the gal at Yakush was very nice, said no problem, tho we were concerned since we had reserved there until the 30th, nice. Did a boat tour, the Barracuda, oldest and cheapest boat going, of Beagle Channel. Even got to steer the boat, exciting, very windy and cold but still some sun!
Moved to Los Lupinos...also, fellow we met at Yakush, Ray from Australia (Canberra) was doing the same. Nice fellow, been traveling for past 5 mos. before beginning college this spring to study environmental conservation. A very good listener and insisted on speaking Spanish the whole time, which was good...besides English he grew up speaking Japanese in the home...Dad from Japan.
I tried unsuccessfully to get my external harddrive fixed. Only sell new here. Oh well, maybe in Buenos Aires. No pics for a while more...
Early rising...beautiful blue skies...we went down to port to see off the tall ship Europa Visit Europa. What a great sight! Also in the harbor are, juxtaposed, The World Visit The World and yacht, Archemedies Visit yacht
Gotta say, it is very different being in a place where it doesn't get dark until past 11pm and in fact, the Argentinians don't really begin to do anything until 11 am in the morning, with stores and restaurants, etc. open usually past 2 or 3 in the morning when it begins to get light again, ha! It was quite different also, celebrating the 'summer' solstice on the 21st besides having a full eclipse of the moon (which we couldn't see due to clouds and moon being very low in the horizon to say nothing of the daylight as well!!). Bon is changing her/our email address again so those of you who wish to communicate directly with her just let me know if you have been missed. She was tired of fighting gmail and frustrated not being able to manage messages easily like she used to on Yahoo. It all comes down to what you get used to is my guess, but I found gmail very confusing as well and I have my email in Hotmail which I find very easy to deal with. So much for trivia.
I'm sure Jake will have lots to tell us from his travels on the Austral Hwy...the continuation of the Pan Am hwy constructed in the time of Pinochet...once he finally catches up to us, ha! Meanwhile, we are preparing for our own celebrations here, they tell us everything is closed after 3 pm tomor. until sometime on the 26th.
Very laid back day...no, much was open most of the day so didn't have to shop a lot day before. Eve was filled with fireworks, loud celebrations on the street and (according to Mari) in the bars.
25th til 30th:
Days filled with lots of walking about this very tourist town, watching the weather change every 15 minutes or so, wind the only real constant and very noticeably missing when not blowing (rarely), and meeting, conversing, and generally, taking advantage of the very international company which flows thru the town. We find that most who come here stay 2 to 3 nights and move on, usually to B.A. or El Calafate via bus or fly out to more distant ports-of-call. Having stayed so long we have seen perhaps 4 'waves' pass thru. The Israelis are the most numerous and we questioned them about this...turns out they are no longer welcome in many parts of Asia (not at all allowed into India), and so after military service S. America and especially, Argentina, are favorite destinations to begin travels. We understand why they become somewhat pariahs, largely due to their tendency to travel in groups, sometimes as many as 10 together. They then pretty much stick together and ignore the locals or other travelers and even exhibit a tendency to be aloof/stuckup. I think it is the group that encourages this because we have met individuals who are very nice and want to socialize more. We also can see this happening with us as well ie. a cold greeting from locals. When asked where we are from and we answer US, very often we get an "Oh" response and nothing more...local folks in Argentine and Chile are not fond of Gringos to say the least. So it is easy to become less social when the welcome is luke warm at best. Both US and Israel have characteristics politically anathema to the world populous at large. I wonder why, ha!
We spent some time one evening celebrating the season at an Irish Pub with Helen and Shaun and others we met there.
See Shaun & Helen Blog
We also took a hike to nearby Martial Glacier above the local ski area (the T-bar was not working yet, but begins soon for the heavy tourist season to come). Great views from above and like most hikes this part of the world, the 'trail' is straight up, no switchback nonsense, ha! Then the day before our last day we talked with a Brit and 2 Brazilians (Sao Paulo natives in financial investment business, in their 20's) who were renting a car to go into the Tierra del Fuego Natl Park. We had hesitated to even go because it is sooo expensive...a bus to/from 60p ($15 US) ea. and then the 60p park entry fee on top. They left early (pre 7 am) to get there before the park opens at 8 thereby missing the 60p each entry fee. The buses which go begin the trip at 9 so that only leaves car rental or taxi (very pricey even when shared). We debated all day about the car rental, especially with our past negative experiences of extra charges added when returning the car, liability, and just plain hassle of dealing with driving, parking, leaving car, etc. We must have discussed the idea a dozen times, and since it was Mari's turn to put something on her credit card (you've got to leave deposit on credit card...$800 US), that added an extra element of discourse in which Mari was VERY reticent to be the one taking the credit card 'risk'. Finally, Jake who was the main proponent of the idea, went to the rental place to get the scoop and report back. Result was it would be 200p for the day, 200 km free travel, no extra charges they said, and 24 hr usage. We had also been discussing (Mari mostly in favor of) going to Esmeralda Lagoon which would cost 40p ea and a 3 hour hike, which reports back were very favorable in terms of scenery, birds, but also very boggy/wet/muddy trekking. Still more debate Jake being very frustrated with indecision (Bon made clear from the start that she had no opposition to car rental but would not use our credit card for the purpose) bust out that HE would use his card and take all the responsibility, but didn't understant the 'big deal' why Mari wouldn't use hers. This created a bit of tension in their relationship which til now had been very cozy.
Finally, late in the day (4pm) the group of 3 returned and reported great success using the rental car and the gas, another unknown til now, was minimal. Bon and I were the recipients of this report and feeling it was a crucial element to our decision we tracked down Jake and Mari and all was a 'go' again. Jake took off for the rental place (being the on one the hook for the credit card thing). We met him at the hostel and then drove out to the lagoon. It took some inquiries to find the 'free' trailhead, our first attempt at hiking in we were told by lady from house nearby that this particular entry place was private and she'd charge us 10p ea to use it. Success and some bushwacking thru a bit of muck brought us to an open bog area, the squishy peat being very extensive. They harvest this stuff a great deal outside the national parks tho it endangers the water supply (along with local mining) since the moss is a natural sponge and filter. Did not hike to the lagoon being late in the day 6 hr round trip a bit much and we really only wanted to see the area a bit.
Next day we did the T.del F. Park deal, turned out just as we were told...free entry before 8am...great scenery along the Beagle Channel and ocean plus reaching the very end of Hwy 3, the only road which reaches the 'end of the world'! See Pics.
Good interpretive center in the park giving lots of insight into the, now extinct, native population See More About T. del F. Indians Bon and I needed to be back in town to try and get a package shipped before the post office closed at 6 so, to Mari's dismay, we had to leave the park a half hour earlier than she wished...sorry Mari.
As it turned out, our info was incomplete and they only accept packages to be shipped until noon so we all could have enjoyed a bit longer in the park! Still, all in all, thoroughly enjoyed our trip there AND the total cost was less than a bus trip out and back! We feel we have seen what we came to see (apart from the disappointment of missing a trip to Antarctica) and would not have missed this part of the world for anything.
Again, I apologize for constantly talking about money, but truely, the costs here have been way over the top for all our budgets. Granted, our budgets are not what most people consider to be realistic but nevertheless, we have constraints that most travellers of only short duration and even those on 3-4 month trips do not have. Lots of folks who come here are only here to catch a cruise to the Antarctic. In fact, that is no doubt why the stays in the hostels are of such short duration. Also, there are really two distinct levels of travel...backpackers who for the most part have quite alot of $$ but choose to go via the cheap usually for the same reason we do, longer duration, and the high-enders who have virtually no budget, stay in the 5 star places, and/or are on the trip of a lifetime, money being no object.
Check Out Falkland Is.
Check Out These Fungi...See Pics