To the End of the World and Back

Trip Start Jan 23, 2007
Trip End Feb 23, 2008

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

So after a 6 hour delay in the airport in El Calafate (where they "raped" you in food prices....) we were on the plane to Ushuaia... the length of the plane ride was 55 minutes. That's right... we waited 6 hours for a 55 minute plane ride.

But we finally made it to Ushuaia, a.k.a The End of the World. We stayed at probably one of the most fun hostels on the whole trip. On Monday morning the other couple in our room convinced us that it would be a good idea to rent a car, it just so happened to be a national holiday in Argentina and maybe one of the worst decisions we have ever made (to try to rent a car in Argentina that is)... they said they'd be there at 11:00 and after Dan chose to keep waiting for the car.... they finally arrived at 1ish and by that point we had missed the last shuttle for the day to the national park.... When the man finally arrived he gave us some shpeal about what had happened... blah blah blah. Well the only discount they would give us for the delay would be 10 pesos (less than 3 dollars). At this point it was 1:40ish and he had to call in approval for a North American Credit Card and this approval could take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. So Sarah at this point was ready to bite his head off (and just about did) and she just took the papers tore them up and we left.

But as bad of a start our first day was... we ended up getting in a taxi and having him take us the base of the mountain to climb to the glacier.... And the fun began!!! We walked up some side paths... found a river and then decided that because we were short on time we would take the "ski lift" (or here the glacier lift) up to the top so we could have time to walk around... only to find out that after we make it to the "top" we still had another kilometer and a half or so of a hike up the mountain... a very STEEP mountain to say the least. But we said... hey we've made it this far why stop now. So we started climbing and climbing, each time Ushuaia kept getting fainter and fainter, while the mountain grew steeper and steeper, the weather was creeping in making the view cloudier and cloudier, and Sarah's getting colder and colder.... But it was okay because we were 2 unprepared Yankees climbing a mountain without gloves and it didn't look that far... So we stop for lunch and so Sarah could put on her snow pants, which was a smart move in the end cause after lunch we continued to trek and there was no more blue sky... just gray clouds and we climbed for another 10 minutes or so and then it began to snow... at this point we're on our hands and knees climbing a mountain covered in snow and ice. And we made it to what we thought was pretty darn close to the top and we couldn't see more than 3 feet in front of us and Sarah is pretty scared... and Dan was fine... minus the scared part he couldn't show Sarah... So we thought we had gone far enough and we turn around and slide back down on our butts.... It's a good think Sarah but those pants on!!!!!! (Dan was using the rain protector from the bag cause he didn't have snow paints... again good planning.

After one heck of a drop... this fresh snow caused the "frozen" snow on top to melt more or less, plus we had the added advantage of not being able to see our tracks or in front of us... so obviously we would take steps and plunge hip high into the snow... completely stuck... and face first into the ground in front of us.... so we tried to stick to sliding down, falling down, slipping and really just having a good old time... note the pictures of us however we failed capture the buddy system of interlocked arms that helped stop some of the falling!!!!

Of course once we make it down the hard part and we look back and its BLUE skies... the clouds had disappeared... although we still couldn't see the town. So we continued our hike down because now at this point the Glacier lift was closed and EVERYONE was gone and there were no taxis. Well having not paid much attention to the ride up... we thought lets just walk back to town... so we trekked about winding down the mountain on our way back to town. After about 30 minutes of walking down WINDY roads and a couple of bad decisions to cut through the forest to the avoid walking around the curves as the street S-ed its way down the mountain ( Dan put us in more danger than saved us time)... we finally get a taxi who took us back to our hostel.

We were beat and made some pasta and crashed for the night. Day 2 was going to be busy... we wanted to make up for not going to the park the day before due to the rental car... along with that we signed up to take a boat tour of the Begal Canal. So we hopped in the transfer to and from the National Park, Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire). It's named Tierra del Fuego because of the fires the Indians made keep warm were so large that the early sailors here called it land of fire or Tierra Fuego.... Well we were driving and driving (Catching up on Greys Anatomy on Dan's Ipod) and then we get stopped and we're sitting there for a VERY long time and we couldn't figure out what was going on and well then our driver tells us that he forgot his license in his other pants pocket so the police won't let him continue on so we have to wait for another transfer bus that has room for us to take us to the park... GREAT what else could possibly go wrong in Ushuaia for us.... Good thing this was the end of the trip otherwise it could have "burden" the rest....

Anyways we finally make it to the park and embarked on what was suppose to be a 3 hour coastal hike... only about of it was on the coast and it was just unbelievably beautiful... the wild animals, the scenery all just breath taking!!! And well the last was defiantly not on the coast but inland and the trek only took us about 1.5 hours and we were walking incredibly slow... well because our driver forgot his license the new driver could only drop us off at one spot and the hike did not take us to "the end of the world" so our driver came back and picked us up with his license and drove us to the End of the World (He didn't have a choice after the stunt he pulled earlier) because we didn't have enough time to walk it due to our boat tour in the afternoon. But we did make it to the end of Route 3, took some pictures and then headed back to town to catch the boat tour!!!

The boat tour of the Begal Canal was 5 hours long and took us out to far enough to see the penguins... so on the boat ride we got to watch part of March of the Penguins... if you haven't seen that movie... RENT IT!!!!... honestly by this time I've seen so many penguins... but the views were amazing and you are at the end of the WORLD!!!

We saw some birds that look just like Penguins and the only difference between them and Penguins is that they can fly!!! We saw some sea lions and seals. Saw the "fake" End of the World lighthouse... the reason that it's fake is because it looks IDENTICAL to the real one... but the actual light house is some 250K further south and the reason you know it's not real besides that it that there is no sign that says THE END OF THE WORLD LIGHTHOUSE....

After the lighthouse came an hour and a half boat ride out to the penguins... there we saw the waddle, swim, and play. Only the males where there and they are waiting for the female to arrive starting around now for the mating season!!! We then had a 2 hour boat ride back to Ushuaia and that completed our day 2 and we were tired!!!!

Our last day in Patagonia we went on a 4x4 excursion through the forest of Ushuaia. It was just insane. Right before we started the driver told the passenger and the people sitting in the front row (we along with another girl were in the back... a.ka. the trunk with seats) to put all their belongings either in the back or on their laps because we will go into some deep waters and the water/mud will come into the car and then their bags would get wet. And he was right!!! Sometimes we were in water that came up almost to the window! At one point it was a very long and steep climb and we were gaining some speed and then all of the sudden we turned a corner went down hill fast and right into the LAKE... that's right he drove us right into the lake... actually the lake is what stopped us. We didn't go all the way in but the front half of the car was submerged under water. At the end of the 4x4 we had an Asado (a barbeque) probably one of the best we've had in Argentina!!! Great choripan and great chimmichuri!!!

After the 4x4 we came back to the hostel... showered and watch it begin to SNOW... now mind you we had a flight back to BsAs in roughly 4 hours. So as the snow continued, and picked up and started to collect on the ground Sarah became rather nervous that our flight would either be delayed and/or cancelled! But Ushuaia is use to the snow and that type of weather and our flight was only late by 20 minutes!!!

And that was the end of our Patagonia trip!!! We'll post one more blog from Argentina about our last few days in Buenos Aires before departing for Africa!!!

Chua for now!!!
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