Photos from Ushuaia, Penguins and Iguazu

I have posted four new albums on the site, including me with the penguins in Tierra Del Fuego, sadly minus Groucho Marx glasses and comedy hats. Also from the Haberton Estancia which I felt deserved an album to itself. I also have pictures from Ushuaia, and notice the photos of the memorial to those sailors that died when the A.R.A. Belgrano sank after being struck from a torpedo from the British nuclear submarine “HMS Conqueror” during the Falklands War. Notably the first ship sunk by a nuclear submarine in wartime.

I also have pictures from the Cataratas De Iguazu that look great too, many of which I might get enlarged when I get back to the UK. Anyway, the full list is here:

Hope you enjoy as this will probably be one of the last photo posts before I come back!

Oh, and if you are wondering why I have a picture of a sexy woman in her underwear in the Ushuaia album, it is purely because I wanted to demonstrate how all advertising especially in Argentina, is almost entirely constructed on the “a semi-naked woman will sell anything” principle!!

Penguins in the Beagle Channel!!

I don’t know about most people, but I find penguins extremely amusing. A bird that can’t fly, waddles about on land and swims like a fish. Ushuaia was as good as it gets to see penguins live and in the flesh. We made the tour out to the Estancia Haberton, the oldest estancia, or farm, on Tierra del Fuego. By bus from Ushuaia it took about an hour, passing trees bent to the prevailing winds from the east. Bleak and desolate it reminded me of areas around Oban in Scotland, a harsh, cold and desperate place to live.

Arriving at the estancia at just before lunch we settled with a cup of tea and waited for the boat. Looking at the family history on the walls the family from England who had chosen this end of the world to settle had kept exact records of the births, deaths and marriages over the years and made interesting reading.

View the photos of the Estancia Haberton, Tierra Del Fuego, Patagonia, Argentina.

We took a large rigid hulled inflatable, of the kind that the RNLI use. Notably similar the one that saved my life at 19 years old sailing in Carmathen Bay. We speeded out into the Beagle chanel towards the “penguinera”, essentially a nature reserve where the penguins come to nest and rear their young. The trip we had chosen was expensive by Argentine standards, costing 170 pesos (over 30 GBP), but was one of the few that took us onto to the nature reserve and allowed us to walk around, although severely controlled. We had a really nice guide, a local girl who was studying German in Cordoba. Her English was excellent and explained a great deal to us about the natural cycle for the penguins. We hadn’t arrived at the best time, most of the chicks having being born late last year and having left already for the north near Puerto Madryn, but there was still plenty to see. The wind is a constant reminder of how close you are to Cape Horn, and the many wrecks that lie there as a result of the consistently bad weather. We spent 45 minutes on the island and I got some great photos, until the rain started to belt it at 30 degrees to the horizontal and most of the tourists gave up and headed back to the boat.

View the photos of the Penguineria, Beagle Channel, Tierra Del Fuego, Patagonia, Argentina.

Tim and would have loved to have dressed a penguin up in Groucho Marx glasses and a funny hat (since all animals in hats are funny) but I’m afraid our guide wouldn’t permit it. Maybe another time!

Fin Del Mundo in Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego

I have finally made it to the end of the world in Argentina, the most southerly city in the world – Ushuaia! A flight from El Calafate brought us here yesterday without any problems until we tried to find a hostel that had beds. The first two hostels were full, and at the Yakush hostel they kindly offered to phone around for us. Every call returned a “no” except for two that later phoned back with availablility. One was under construction and the other far out of town. We chose the latter, “Los Comaranes”, which actually turned out to be quite nice, although the dormitory rooms are a little cramped. We also made a booking for the next few nights in Yakush Hostel too, where we are now situated. Mental note to anyone travelling down here, even at the end of the season as it is now – reserve a bed!!

Ushuaia reminds me a the photos I have seen of Greenland in the summer. Nissen huts are abound and the place has a feel that during the winter months it can get pretty rough and damn cold. Apparently the wind is the worst factor here, and after seeing a maritime map in the hostel of the wrecks around here and Cape Horn, it is not hard to imagine how bad it can get. Being from the UK makes you used to changeable weather but here it changes really quickly. From bright sunshine in the morning to absolutely tipping it down the next minute from nowhere is not uncommon. Mind you that is what the taxi driver explained to me in Spanish, so I might be slightly out on the translation!!

View the photos of Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina (a.k.a Fin Del Mundo).

There are two trips Tim and I are interested in while we are here. The first is a boat trip around the islands and to see and stand with penguins. The other is a 9 hour hike up to the glacier which you then can hike on with crampons and ice axes! Might have to just pick one them, based on budget and time but hopefully can do them both.

Forgot to mention something funny I saw in El Calafate. There are a great deal of stray dogs in the town, but there was one that classically chased the cars. After being there for a couple of days we realised that he only chased French cars. Peugout, Renault and Citroen were his only targets. As to why, I had no idea, but the thought of a French car hating dog amused me highly!

Also we had a funny incident based on Tim’s now famous “internationally recognised gestures”. After the shower gel incident in La Paz (the woman understood Tim’s gesticulation for shower gel, but it turned out she spoke English anyway!), Tim came up with a new one after talking about icing sugar (don’t ask me why), which was based on his Mum’s method of sprinkling icing sugar onto cakes. It looks like someone banging the palms of their hands together at 90 degrees to each other, but amusingly was pointed out to him that is a vulgar sign for, well, “fucking”, for want of a better word. His face was quite a picture when he realised how many times he had used it recently while demonstrating his vast hand signal dictionary compared to his Spanish knowledge!!

Anyway, Tim has given me hours of amusement and is a great travel companion even though he snores like a trooper, which of course he denies! Travelling together for quite a while has got us both to know our individual little habits and gestures for getting out of minor scrapes. With just 2 weeks left before I fly home, I feel it will be weird not to have my shithead card playing, drinking and dossing around buddy around. I hope he survives without the benefit of my dodgy Spanish, however, I think he plans to do a course in Buenos Aires to prepare himself for those two months alone. It’s been a great laugh and we have met and travelled with some great people along the way. October seems so long ago now, and I am surprised that I have managed to do so much these six months.

People say you will never be the same after you have spent some serious time travelling around. I think I wouldn’t have been able to do longer than six months to be honest. I have noticed that the bad hour at the beginning have now turned into a bad couple of days, when I long to be home and see family and friends, eat bloody vegetables and be around people that understand how to queue in line!

For what it is worth, I think that this trip has changed me. For what direction I am not sure, but I guess family and friends will happily tell me if there is an improvement or not! What has been confirmed to me is that the way the world works, and how it is pretty harsh, people suffer and starve. I knew it before, and now have seen it with my own eyes, but whereas before I thought the world could be changed, now I’m not so sure. Of course people can stand in the way of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, charities can do what they can, but maybe this world was designed to be this way. Who knows.

As my Argentinian friend Elisa would say in her mocking of the English accent – “who cares”?