January 18, 2004

Ushuia, Argentina

I've spent the last week in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Patagonia is a cold, barren stretch of forever with incredible skies at least that big. It's kind of hard to explain just what it that's so beautiful about this place, but I've always wanted to see it and it's been worth the trip. The highlight was definitely the Moreno Glacier - a moving icefield of compact Andean snow that veeeeeery slowly makes its way down from the mountains toward Lake Argentina. It reaches the lake as a wall of ice 60 meters high and 5km wide. As the water melts out the glacier's support from underneath, enormous slabs of ice shear off and crash in slow motion to the water below. The sound is deafening (I remember hearing Star Wars' sound designer Ben Burtt say he used the sound of a glacier shearing for the landing effect of Queen Amidala's ship - wonder if this was it). The low point was the yogurt I picked up for breakfast in El Calafate. It must have sat on a warm truck somewhere, because about half an hour after going down, it wanted back up again in a big way. I spent the rest of the day doing just that. Really glamorous on a glacier. Couldn't keep anything down for a few days afterward.

I'm in Ushuaia now - the world's southernmost city. This week, statistically the southern hemisphere's warmest (and the northern hemisphere's coldest - take heart up there, it'll get better), it's been hitting 11 degrees, but even a light breeze out of the Antarctic makes it feel much, much colder. Don't think I'd want to be here in six months. The surrounding fjords and glacier-capped mountains are stunning - especially at sunset which happens at about 10pm here, even now a month after the solstice.

Well, that's it. End of the road. Literally. The world's southernmost highway is Argentina's #3 which continues southwest from Ushuaia into Tierra del Fuego National Park, then ends abruptly on the shore of Lapatia Bay off the Straight of Magellan. Earlier today I ambled on down that road and stood at the shore looking over the bottom of the world.

That's it. Lest I head to Antartica, I've come as far as I can go. Nowhere to go but back.

Posted by dhuska at January 18, 2004 02:35 PM