El Fin del Mundo

Note from 1 November 2013:  Reading back on the time I spent in Ushuaia, Argentina always makes me smile and shake my head.  It’s a magical place, and I met the most amazing, fun people there–though I won’t lie, some of them were trouble.  But I learned how to make traditional Argentine empanadas, and that skill is priceless.   -SRS-

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4 February 2008

I have fallen completely and utterly, head-over-heels  in love with Ushuaia, to the point that I can envision myself living here.  If I did, this is how an average day would pass:

I wake up around 9 am, like most Argentinos, tired after a late night of talking with friends over a bottle [or three] of wine.  For breakfast I crave a typical small Argentine meal:  bread with dulce de leche and a few servings of mate tea.   I bundle up in long pants and a sweater, maybe a hat and scarf it’s blustery, and step outside of my brightly-colored bungalow to find the nearest panaderia.  At my side is my dog, Bobi, a Husky-German Shepherd mix that I rescued from the streets just before the annual stray dog roundup.  She’s as excited as I am about breakfast.

As soon as I step outside I start smiling, because all around me, in every direction, are stunning vistas: rugged mountains abut the town from behind, and a frigid ocean crashes up on its front.  Islands with their own white-capped mountains guard the horizon beyond the Beagle Channel.

TDF_ocean

There’s a panaderia just a few steps away on the corner, but Bobi and I take a right and walk two blocks downhill to one of the other dozen bakeries.  The walk to the bakery isn’t terribly challenging–it’s all downhill–but on the way home I struggle up streets that threaten to spill me backwards all the way to the wharf.  At four-way intersections the pedestrians and traffic are dancing a dance unique to Ushuaia–the cars going uphill have the right of way and everyone else gets out of the way.  Stop signs aren’t necessary, gravity reigns.

After breakfast I head out to explore the area.  Perhaps Bobi and I go hiking in the Fuegaian Andes, the wild peaks behind town, and spy a Fuegian Fox or one of the beavers that have taken over the waterways.  Or maybe we head down to the ocean, walk along the grey, rocky beaches and marvel at the power of the waves, or stand by the wharf and watch the cruise ships leave for Antarctica.  I could paddle a kayak out to the penguin colonies, or ride a bike to The End of the World at Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego.  Or, if the day is cold and windy, I could spend an afternoon at one of the many chocolaterias, sipping a decadent chocolate corto and reading the local paper to practice my Spanish.

TDF_mts

In the evening I eat and drink with my Argentine friends, who are so fun and charming and friendly they could melt icebergs with the mere glow of their personalities.  We eat dinner at the Argentine dinner hour, around 10 pm when the sun is beginning to set, and then sit around drinking fernet con coca, malbec and mate until the early hours of the morning.  Then it’s time for bed and a few hours of sleep before the next day’s adventure.

Ah, Ushuaia. How can you not love a place that makes you smile every single time you look out the window?  Of course, I might not feel so warmly about it in the winter, when the days shorten from 18 hours to just 7.  But there’s fantastic skiing here in the winter, and dogsledding too.  The persistent wind and low temperatures year-round might get me down, but I would be living at the End of the World, and there’s something to be said for that.

Maybe someday my address will read, “Sarah Sch…, Avenida Roca 123, Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina…El Fin del Mundo”.

Anything is possible…

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