“Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself, no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip: a trip takes us.”
John Steinbeck “Travels with Charley”
Departed the expedition taking the the bus the 200 meters to bus stop. Not allowed to walk the pier. Then we walked to the air BNB we had rented a distance of maybe 200 meters but very uphill. Ushuaia is on a hill and we were sweating on arrival. Unfortunately without internet I had been unable to contact the owner of time of arrival, hence no one to let us in at 9 am. Luckily the wifi was working from the house and we already had logged in from previous stay 4 weeks ago on first arrival to Ushuaia. Gloria the owner had left an email for us at 1 am wondering when we would come in. I emailed her back and stated we were sitting out front. She arrived in 20 minutes with a hug and a key. Somehow in the 24 days of trip I had managed to completely forget nearly 98% of any Spanish I might have once known. It is much easier to forget than to learn it seems. I believe I have forgotten far more than I have ever learned.
Geoff was still with us as he did not leave until afternoon, and we three wondered off in search of coffee and a continueing breakfast. The city center was full of red coats from our trip and we found Peter and Jilly at a coffee shop where we reminisced about past trip and next days. The town was full of tourists getting off ships and boarding trips. There were 4 ships in and interesting watching them parallel park a 350 foot ship, without tugs with a breeze of maybe 10 knots.
Peter, Jilly, Geoff, Hilda departed via bus for airport and Jeanne and I left somewhat alone. As it turned out though we arrived back in Ushuaia on the same day the bike-dreams Andes trail bike ride finished their 11000 kilometer trek from Quito. I had done that trip only going from Cuzco 2 years before. It was the start of this blog. We awaited their arrival, just sitting beside the bay watching the tide roll in and ships pass. Delightful time.
Great time seeing the erection of the finish line and podiums. Rob the owner and guide was the only one I knew but could easily relate to others. They came across as we did in a group smiling, laughing and congratulating themselves. I was quite surprised when Rob recognized me. Champagne was shared and stories told: it was great for me to be there it it was I think fun for Jeanne to see what I had done. Sounded like quite the trip similar to ours but very different. When I asked about weather every answer was only 4-5 days of rain. I had to ask about wind and all responded with a question stating maybe a bit of headwind out of Rio Grande, but nothing too bad. That is a big difference. Timing is everything.
A delightful dinner with Jeanne at great restaurant overlooking city and Beagle Channel. Dinners in Argentina are great and important. We somewhat rushed through it taking only 2 1/2 hours. One comes to sit and enjoy, waiters are not constantly coming around asking if you need something, and when finished you have to find the waiter for the bill. Just sit and enjoy. One feels one could sit there all night. And as usual we arrived early being about 8 and many tables open, but when we left at 10 tables all full and more people arriving. Different world.
Wednesday arrived and time to do something. We felt we had done a lot in Ushuaia before the trip as the Tierra del Fuego and Punta Arenas trips were not possible as we had planned. A hiking trip to Laguna Esmeralda was arranged via bus to the start. Depart 1 pm and told it was a 2 hour hike in of 5 kilometer with 2 hour return to catch bus at 5 pm. The trek started we5 and muddy through thick beech forest and became wetter and muddier. Finally arrived at base of last hill but still nearly a kilometer to go at 3:20 and decided best to return. Never saw the lake except as a picture but the valley was gorgeous. Hiked bike sinking nearly to knees in wet bog.
I was exhausted! 5 mile trek and legs were done in. Maybe that boat stuff was not so good despite burning calories just standing on blended knee constantly balancing oneself. We had empanadas purchased along way back to our cabana and called it dinner. I was in bed at 8:45 barely able to move my muscles were intensely sore. I believe not only the hiking but residual cold symptoms were bringing me down.
Interesting as up during the night for nightly downloads and I felt as if I was back on boat with jerky walking, banging against wall, lurching forward then back. Woke up enough to realize where I was and it became clear. Happened two nights in row, and I finally realized it was partly from the kilter in the cabana. It tilted a bit and not everything was straight as it was very old.
Thursday we became excited about laundry as none since departure except for washing necessities in sink. It became our mission and we loaded a duffle with nearly all our clothes. It was a crystal clear blue day, a good day for hiking about town, searching for a laundromat, whereas yesterday was cloudy and rainy. Three laundromats later, we had learned one does not do ones own laundry here, you take it in and pick it up later. Unfortunately all were busy and unable to do a same day processing. Alas, back to the shower and sink. Pants from yesterday desperately needed cleaning. Done!
The afternoon was spent realizing maybe we were tired. We had been on step for nearly four weeks and it was catching up. Thus spent delightful afternoon watching clothes dry, placing the Argentinian SIM card in my phone and proceeded to try and decipher why it would not work. All instructions in Spanish hence going back and forth with translation programs which seem only fair at the technical aspects. Finally realized I needed help so off for some squid and beer, finding a telephone company along the way. Hooray she spoke a little English and for 60 pesos was able to get 7 days of data and a working SIM. Seems the 30 pesos ($2.00) I paid for the card was only for the card and it needed charging. Another adventure in learning. And now we have Internet and can connect with Argentina, at a reasonably cheap rate. Had checked with my carrier at home ATT and found it would be about $100 plus nearly $1.50 a minute for calls. Tried to connect with ATT but could not convince them I exist, saying my user name and password were incorrect although they worked fine before we left.
Currently sitting on an airbus 320 flying the 3 1/2 hours to Buenos Aires and yet another portion of trip. Working our way back north. Has been a great trip. Would gladly go again, although would break up flight South and not do the night flights.