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Days 20-21 The Drake Passage and Ushuaia
We all gathered for one final Cheeseman-UT Jackson School of Geoscience-Ioffe Akademik group shot before we hit the Drake.
We have had exceptional weather--for Antarctica. However, the Drake is known for stormy weather, We are ready for a few rough hours on the way back. Our first encounter is not with weather but whales. We are joined by several fin whales in the passage. They were right beside the ship.
We did have several rock-and-roll hours, but nothing exceptional. (Apparently we were just ahead of a large storm. A cruise ship behind us was hit by a rogue wave and it broke the wheel house window. Guess we were lucky. )
We pass to the east of Cape Horn, engulfed in fog.
We were barely able to see this iconic southernmost headland to Chile's Tierra del Fuego archipelago.
After Cape Horn, we pass into the Beagle Channel and the next morning arrive in Argentina's Ushuaia-a bustling small city with a big impact. It is called the southernmost city in the world.
Located on a slice of land claimed by Argentina on the east side of the Tierra del Fuego, it began as an Argentine prison settlement. Why you may ask? Argentina and Chile have a long history of boundary disputes. Putting a prison at Ushuaia gave Argentina a way to raise the Argentine population and increase its stronghold in the area. We say goodbye to our Canadian ship operators and our Russian crew. Victor was the sailor who ran the gangway to the zodiacs. The gangway was a long ladder from the deck down to the sea with a platform at water level. This was the man who stood in the rain and icy winds, grabbed and secured each of the tiny rubber boats as they bounced to the ship in rough seas and gave us a strong arm to help us into the boats and then back on the ship. He was made of iron and very patient
Many of our group our continuing on with a Cheeseman Patagonia tour of Tierra del Fuego. We do say good bye to Tim and Pauline Carr, our Shackleton experts who sailed their 28 foot ship from England to Grytvetkin and made it their home for all those years.
We have our first look at Monte Olivia, the mountain that is the the emblem of the city.
After dropping our things, we set off for a quick tour the area by car. The city has a definite European tang in the housing areas.
Our first stop? Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, of course.
Located at the southern tip of the Andes, long board walks over wetlands lead to amazing remote areas.
We walk down some interesting paths.
To the water's edge. The Beagle Channel--named after Darwin's ship--is in the distance.
I loved this moss covered rock with its deep folds.
And I have no idea what this thing was under the water. Even the fish seem to be checking it out.
Just a beautiful place.
Next we visit La Roca, or Lago Acigami. An park area that reminds us of a mountain fiord.
We leave for a grilled bar-b-que lunch, Argentine style. Plates of ribs, steal, pork and blood sausages, vegetables--and it just keeps coming. Very good. Heading back to Ushuaia, we pass many trees with Chinese Lanterns. (A pla like mintstletoe that forms balls hanging from the trees)
We stop at Bahia Ensenada, on the Beagle Channel.
It has a "post office" of sorts, the Unidad Postal Fin del Mundo
I have no idea the story behind this, that was tacked to the wall inside...Nine dollar bill? Really?
Retuning to Ushuaia, we walked around town a bit. Very busy with many tourists, backpackers, etc.
We end our day back at our B+B, Patagonia Jarke. Tomorrow we head out on a catamaran tour down the Beagle Channel.
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