If you wish to know the Divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand. Buddha
Well it has been an interesting week. Arrived at airport here in Ushuaia about 7 pm last Thursday (today is Wednesday), I believe more dead than alive. We were to say the least, exhausted. Concerned about our airbnb as unable to contact them due to no phone, wifi, etc., but on arrival the owner was out front and gave us hugs on arrival. Her brother said lets go get a SIM card and we hopped in car to drive several places to obtain a SIM card so I could have phone access and such, when no wifi available. Finally got it although a few days later when I got around to putting it in phone turns out did not work. Only 50 pesos though about $3.00 so not worrying. Seems card had been cut wrong.
As we arrived late and had planned on thursday arranging trips about Tierra Del Fuego and up to Punta Arenas, Chile we found a room for another night. The airbnb was booked but found a hotel nearby although only room was a triple for $130. OK for one night.
Went out to eat at first restaurant we found which by now was 9 pm and mostly empty, with a couple of tables busy. By the time we finished at 10:30 every table full. I forgot they eat late here. Most restaurants do not even open until 8 pm. But excellent food. Then we slept, oh sweet sleep.
In the morning we walked to new hotel 6 blocks away and apparently a double room was always available just not via booking.com, hence we would get a reimbursement. And off to make arrangements for the next 5 days. Information booths, tour companies, bus companies, etc. More difficult than anticipated. Had tried to do on line from home, but proved difficult without any answers. Ferry boat ride between Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams (near here) was something we really wanted, as it was 35 hours on inside passage as a local ferry. Tourists ferries were too long and expensive. But the schedule was exact opposite of what we could do. Then we heard there is strike at Chilean border which no-one seemed to have much information on, except borders blocked most of time except maybe 10 minutes an hour or two or three. The bus ride from here to Punta Arenas is 12 hours thus it did not seem inviting having just finished a horrendous travel experience. Flying an option but over a thousand dollars for us. Also could go to Rio Gallegos in Chile which was far cheaper and easier to get to but would mean hours there and an overnight and everyone said a boring town. Seems traveling about Tierra Del Fuego was not going to happen. We would stay in Ushuaia and see what it has to offer. 5 days now and 3 on return.
At hotel we walked up to the lounge area on third floor and as we passed second floor there was a Deborah Green, who I had gone to nursing school with me in 1982. I had seen her a few times since but not much. Jeanne came up the stairs and recognized her as she had worked with her in hospital years before, but took a bit to recognize as way out of context. Small world! They are leaving for Antarctica on a different cruise, but we made arrangements to have dinner. They were going hiking and we were trying to find out options for next days.
Another great dinner again beginning at 9 pm, and we four decided to rent a car the next day to explore tierra el Fuego national park, which was one of the reasons I had wanted to spend time here. Two years ago I rode through the park on bicycle and it looked great for further explorations.
Oh boy the next day we rented a car. A superb day but the renting of car was the adventure. The rental company a block from hotel and they did not speak English and rental agreement was in spanish. Although paying in cash the deposit was on a credit card. Many have told us the credit card charge here is 10% so often cheaper to use cash. But the deposit required a call to credit card company and that was an adventure. The rental guy was getting very frustrated with the incomprehensible questions from the credit card company. They needed to verify it was me, thus by the end we had a slip of paper on desk with passwords, social security #, mothers maiden name, etc. All the things you never give out. We watched that paper closely. Was a problem as the bank said social # was wrong because it should only be four numbers. Finally realized they only wanted the last four digits. Anyway when we finished the paper was fully shredded placed in my pocket and I considered swallowing it. Again we laughed. It took over two hours to get the paperwork and simpler than the paperwork at home.
Finally finished and we drove the 30 kilometers to the end of the road.
Finally after when we reached the end of road, parked, explored, and on return to car none of us could figure out how to put the car in reverse. 20 minutes later and almost getting out and pushing it back, Deborah discovers you lift up on the handle. More laughter.
The park was great with lots of new birds and photograph potential. Striated caracara, rufous collared sparrow, upland goose, rufous goose, kelp geese, flightless steamer ducks, and once we looked up and not at the ground found a bunch of parrots which I figured were Austral parakeets. Had not expected to see parrots here. Amazing wildlife. A superb hike to the coast amongst the beech trees.
Returned to Ushuaia and wanted to avoid driving San Martin street due to busy, but ended up on it not once, but twice when roads we turned on dead ended forcing us to navigate San Martin, finally climbing back to the rental place where the fellow had driven from home to meet us. Very nice. Quite an adventure and it worked out well.
Sunday was pleasant without wind and we suddenly decided to do a Beagle channel tour, to view cormorants, fur seals, light houses, petrels, terns, and another continuous onslaught of critters sights and sounds.
Did some walks about town visiting the monument to immigrants covering a big section of hillside and memorial to those who died in the falklands war (Malvinas)
Today a bus tour about town and found out about the native inhabitants. When Fitzroy and Darwin came here in early 1800’s they asked what the Indians called themselves. They said “tualkin”. For 50 years that is what people called them until someone translated that to mean “I do not understand”. As of 2010 only one native remained, the rest had died off from diseases and such they had no immunity to.
And thus tomorrow we board the ship to travel to falklands, South Georgia island, and Antarctic peninsula. Jeanne, Geoff and myself are very excited. 23 days aboard ship with excursions ashore. New sights.
Thus I will leave it at this. Apparently wifi is available but limited and I am not planning on connecting thus if no word here it means I am successful in disconnecting. This afternoon has reinforced my desire to disconnect. As this $230 per night hotel has wifi which marginally works slowly. The hotel earlier at $60 night worked good, and some what consistent. This writing has taken 6 hours of fits and starts and frustration.
Against I apologize for the lack of coherency or length but am frustrated with the technology.