August 12th, 2004

beach bum

The end of the world

U2 once sang about it. Ushuaia uses it as a claim to fame. This is the end of the world. So today, I decided to take the ´tren del fin del mundo´. Well in advance I was waiting at the stop that should take me to the station, buses appeared for all sorts of destinations, yet not the one to the train station. By ten past nine I was getting worried (though not wearing a watch obviously I needed someone else to tell me it was that time) and ended up taking a taxi. The train only goes once a day.

The driver did a lot to get me there in time, but I was beginning to get worried when by the time we got to the edge of town, the paved road ended and we were driving on something that is supposingly sand, but resembled frozen mud. A few miles onwards we saw the trainstation, with the train, blowing steam, still there. By the time we were on the parking lot, I saw the train leave the station.

I ran inside to the counter and hoped that they could do something, but they told me I was a minute late. I must have pulled a very sad face, because they started talking amongst each other. Result: they ran an extra train, with just me and a private guide in it, to catch up with the other until the first stop! What a service!

By the time we were at the stop, I was amazed to see how many people were on board. Obviously it is a tourist attraction, but in the day and a half I have been here, I haven´t even seen so many tourists in this town, it is low season, winter! The group of Japanese tourists are compulsory as soon as there are more than 20 tourists together somewhere, so before I got on the original train, I had to take 2 group pictures of them.

The train runs over a very small track, through the national park Tierra del Fuego. It follows mostly the river Pipo that comes down from one of the glaciers there. Loads of lovely sights again. Somehow I am not very good at describing natural beauty, it is much easier to talk about cities and their people, but I`ll try anyway.

End of the winter, plenty of snow still, but all trees and bushes have eaten the snow directly around them. The river comes down from a nearby glacier, therefore isn´t really wide yet, more a mountain stream. In the water, rocks are still covered in snow and/or ice, some of the turns where the water doesn´t flow fast are iced as well.

Most trees near the track have disappeared. Ushuaia started it´s existence as a prisoner camp, they used all the wood for houses, furniture etc. Plenty of tree stumps around therefore. Some (wild?) horses walk around. In the background, very close though, mountains are towering into the air, luckily today it is not a very cloudy day, just partially, so even the sun is visible sometimes. One can see some of the roads in the National park, though they are covered in snow and ice as well, reason why the train at the moment is the best option to see something of the park.

With our compartment being as full with people as it is, the windows are all steamed up, which isn´t very nice if you want to see something. Luckily nearly everything is being picked up at the final point after just over an hour of going. On the way back there are only 6 of us left, we can open the windows and have plenty of nice views, I attempt taking some pictures, though I never know if I manage. Bad camera, not an "eye" for pictures, but never mind. We´ll see what will happen by the time I get home. Perhaps I should consider a digital camera anyway.

Back at the station, the other 5 take taxi´s back into town, I decide to walk. 8km, I really have got walking legs these days, but a wonderful walk through some beautiful nature. It might not be a national park, but the nature doesn´t stop at the border. I walk alongside the Rio Pipo for another few kilometers, at the side of the muddy road. I had a siesta this afternoon. I think I deserved that one as well.
  • Current Music
    Beatles - A hard day´s night