We set off in the morning in a van with Veronica and our driver. We are joined by a family of 5 noisy Germans, but Veronica, a lovely girl with yards and yards of curly black hair, has a German mother. She manages to tame the boisterous family, and so we can hear her spiel on the flora and fauna and history of the park. The Germans take the steam train ride, the souternmost railway in the world, the TRain at the End of the World, but Gonzalo told us it wasn´t worth it, so we don´t. It is packed with busloads of tourists, so we are delighted when Veronica deposits us on a secluded, spectacular bay on the channel. We climb a green, mossy patch at the edge of the water, protected by twisting trunks, granite outcroppings, and tiny grassy glades. A pair of Magellan ducks stand at the edge of a rock by the water, who edge a little farther away as we approach.
The sky is shades of gray, charcoal, blue, pale white,and the water has that silvery glint we see here. Tree trunks and branches are dark shapes outlined against the silver and gray, but green moss, grass, dark green leaves, and yellow lichen soothe the eye. A flock of small birds is startled by our approach, but soon settle again. we hate leaving here, but dutifully walk back to the van, where Veronica is about to come looking for us.
We are driven to the end of the Pan American highway. It starts in Alaska and ends up here, by the water, which, if you cross it, would take you to Antarctica.
After touring the park, which is beautiful with lakes and streams, evergreen trees which are nothing like pinces but have small, round, waxy leaves, and all kinds shrubs and berries. I taste a kind of blueberry, which means I will return to Ushuaia some day.
We are deposited in town for lunch, before our boat tour. We lunch in a nice looking cafe and have a terrible hamburger, but get a great look at the town from our second floor table by a window. The town looks like I imagine an Alaskan town would look – tinny, false front stores, all looking somehow temporary – and of course many shops filled with tourist tat. Nevertheless, I buy a warm hat that says Ushuaia on it, and warm gloves. Veronica admired my striped ones from the Gap, so I gave them to her.
- THE END OF THE WORLD
- The Beagle Channel