Ushuaia (pronounced oosh-why'-uh)                                              and boarding Le Boreal - Yay!

Awoke at 4am to make the bus to the airport, leaving at 5:15 am.  Jane actually got out of bed when I entered her room and we made it to the bus in time… we weren't even the last ones on the bus.  Security at the airport was a breeze compared to the US. You don't have to take off your shoes.  We were packed in like sardines on the plane, and I felt sorry for all the tall people. I don't need a lot of leg room. I even took a short nap on the way to Ushuaia.  We had a not very good lunch of barbecued lamb at a restaurant out of town where the big attraction was a huskie breeding farm.  

Our tour guide was wonderful.   Here's what she told us:

The Argentine government had difficulty convincing people to come to "the end of the world," so they simply sent the inmate population, which built the city in the early 1970's, and then subsidized salaries to triple the going rate for similar jobs in urban Argentinian cities.  The place was soon teeming with people and the housing shortage caused a variety of hodgepodge building. All the buildings have metal roofs.  I have a number of pictures of some of the architecture.  

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How the Name Tierra del Fuego came about:

The natives were called Yamanas and they didn't wear clothes much.  So they kept fires burning almost constantly - hence the name Tierra del Fuego, or Land of Fire.  I didn't believe it, but there were postcards with pictures from the the 1800s of Yamana people and indeed, they were not wearing clothes except for some flimsy hopsacks pinned together at the shoulder. An Epicopal missionary was the first white person to settle in the area.  

The economy consists of peat production, beech wood and electronic assembly.  The beech wood forests are interesting. The top soil is  thin and  poor, so the root system is very weak.  The brisk winds can knock the trees down and they tumble down in a domino effect. When you drive by the beech wood forests, you can see "rows" of trees fallen like dominos.  I apologize that I couldn't get a picture of it.  

We were told that ice creates smooth peaks and valleys, while water creates  sharp peaks.  20,000 years ago, ice covered much of the area to a depth of 1000 meters. You can judge the height of the mountains surrounding Ushuaia by their appearance.  Jagged peaks are over 1000 meters high, which is also, the level of the tree line. 

We didn't get to spend a lot of time in Ushuaia, and were ushered onto the boat, Le Boreal, at 4 pm. Our luggage was wating for us in our cabins. We were called for the required emergency evacuation practice with life vests. Then we were introduced to naturalist staff.  It was time for dinner.

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A great look, don't you think?

The buffet dinner was excellent. We had heard some negative things about the food - mostly about the sit down dinners.  We found the staff very gracious and accomodating.  I can get tea with lemon any time I want!  There's also free booze (wine, beer and hard liquor/mixed drinks) which is not very interesting to me but might be interesting to others considering the trip.

I explored the ship - on level 5 there is a sauna and a workout room. On the website, the workout room looks huge. That's because there's a mirror along one whole wall.  There are 3 treadmills, 2 reclining  bikes, one upright bike, and an upper extremity workout machine much like a UBE.  There's also a resistance machine that functions much like the wall pulley system seen in most gyms.  There are also a few exercise balls, ethafoam rollers (large) and yoga mats.  No free weights for obvious reasons. Most people find the treadmills are quite difficult given the rocking and rolling of the ship.

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Interesting resistance machine with yoga mats on the left and therapy balls and ethafoam rollers on the right

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Two of the three treadmills in the gym

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Le Boreal's sister ship heading to Ushuaia as we were leaving.

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A bit of blue sky as we were leaving Ushuaia -  always welcome

Well, it's 11 pm and I have been up since 4 on 4 hours sleep, so I'll call it a day and try to upload photos tomorrow.  It's been smooth sailing so far.  We expect more excitement further on. The weather is overcast, but dry.  It's about 50 degrees.

© Bts arbara Sevde 2012