#5 Argentina/Chile, Feb. 22, 2005

Dear Everybody,

Ushuaia, often referred to as the ‘end of the world’ is quite charming. Chocolate is the thing here, and I had a cup of hot chocolate in a special shop. My, I’ve never had anything like that before—it was like liquid candy only better, served in a pretty little cup. It made me think of what the people in the French village in the movie/book ‘Chocolat’ must have thought.

There is a glacier in the mountains above the town so I took a minibus up a curvy road to a chair lift, then took the chair lift further up the mountain, then hiked up toward the glacier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately not all the days that I spent in Ushuaia were sunny and warm. This one was cold, drizzly and windy. But I was dressed for it and enjoyed the walk along a pretty, babbling brook (glacier melt) until the path got very steep when I turned back. Just as I got back into town, the sun came out.

On Wednesday I got up at 4:30 AM to catch the bus to Punta Arenas. What a commotion in the dark on the corner. There were two elderly, stinky buses and a whole bunch of confused, sleepy people with backpacks trying to figure out which bus and where to stash their packs. We finally got loaded and set out in the dark. About a half hour into the trip the bus had a flat tire—fixed in 20 minutes.

We changed buses in Rio Grande, then on to clear customs back into Chile at San Sebastian. Unfortunately at that point the bus transmission went out and we ‘relaxed’ in the bus for an hour and a half until a substitute bus was brought to continue the trip.

On the road again, then a ferry crossing and into Punta Arenas by 7:30 PM, and back to the Hostal where I had stayed before, the Fitzroy.

The next day I had a beautiful three hour bus ride in a lovely bus with sunshine, wildlife and comfort to Puerto Natales. That night at 9:00 I boarded the ferry, Puerto Eden, for my Navimag four day trip north to Puerto Montt, Chile. This is a working ferry, and after we got on they loaded trucks and cargo. We set out about 4:00 AM.

Apparently I had been upgraded from a Pullman bed in a corridor to a tiny cabin with four bunk beds. My roommates were two young Italian men from Genoa and another Italian man about my age. We made the young men sleep in the upper bunks. There were about 200 passengers on the ferry along with many semi trucks; one was loaded with sheep and a small truck had a number of horses.

On the last day a young woman told me that one or two sheep had died, and she thought we should protest to the company. It’s interesting to think of what different perspectives she would have, the farmer would have, and the ship would have. It’s hard to know where the morality lies.

The first day was cold and rainy but the next two were glorious with lovely scenery as we moved north. When we crossed the Bay of Pena we were in open ocean and what a difference that made—the ferry rolled quite a bit which rocked me to sleep the third night, but made some other people seasick.

Meals were OK but not gourmet. The company was fun—I had many nice conversations with people of all ages. I met another couple from Minnesota—apparently all the Americans that are traveling here are Minnesotans! On the last day we saw two whales—a humpback and a blue, and we saw many dolphins. We sailed for four nights and three days, docking in Puerto Montt and disembarking on Monday morning after breakfast.

I got a bus for an eight hour ride (the last seat available—several buses were completely full) to Bariloche, Argentina. Who should be on my bus but my two Navimag roommates, Immanuelo and Dominico. They really could speak English fairly well (I didn’t know that earlier) and we had a nice conversation. Also on the bus I met Isabelle from England, a 25-year old who is traveling for six months. She and I decided to share a room in Bariloche, so we took the bus to the town center and hiked around, looking at hostels. And guess who I ran into again—-the young Spanish man who was my seatmate on the bus to El Calafate two weeks ago.

This area is gorgeous with lakes, rocky mountains, and lovely sunshine at the moment. The town is situated on a beautiful blue lake, which I shall hike near later.

All is well—the black and blue marks are disappearing from my knee and ankle, and I am having fun.

Carol

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