I’m feeling better today, still not 100% but getting there. Stef disappeared for breakfast and I started reading my book waiting for him to come back. Suddenly it was 11.30 and I went and found him sipping coffee in the hotel restaurant.
We headed off out to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. It’s only about 9km away from the hotel and is much smaller than Nahuel Huapi. On the way we passed Ushuaia’s golf course. It’s amazing that in the middle of all these mountains they can find suitable space for golf but they have. We also passed Ushuaia’s rugby club but unusually for Argentina there’s no football pitch (usually squashed into any available spare space).
In the national park we first drove down to Lapataia Bay. This was the end of the ruta 3 that runs all the way to Buenos Aires 3000km away. There was a very short walk along the side of the peat bogs to the bay. Again it was really peaceful and quiet. I put my fingers in the water and didn’t think it was too cold until about ten seconds later. It was freezing. It is generally so much colder here the water seemed ok.
We then drove on to Lago Roca which spans the border with Chile. There was a 7km round trip walk to the border and we decided to do it. I didn’t really feel up to it but being that close to the border it had to be done. The walk took us through the woods along the lake shore. It was beautiful. The air was clear and fresh and cool and we both felt good. After a while we met a man with a moustache about 1½ inches long. He started talking about birds in Spanish and I thought “ey-up, he’s Dutch”. Can you believe it, at the end of the world near the Chilean border, and we run into a Dutchman! We were a bit disappointed with the border. Stupidly I think we had both expected a border post. It turned out to be a metal orange (can we ever get away from the Dutch connection?!) pyramid covered in graffiti. A bit of a let down but we had now been to Chile too. Along the way Stef upheld another Dutch tradition and dutifully peed into the lake. He said himself he was like a dog having to mark his territory. What with his mate tea fascination too I’m not sure what to do with him.
Rather than eating at the hotel again we headed into Ushuaia to have a meal out. We looked for postcards first but none met with Stef’s approval. Today is a public holiday so most of the shops were shut. The holiday was to commemorate the Falklands War. There are veterans in town who still feel strongly about the war and we were warned to be conscious of this by a fellow Englishman, a lawyer railway buff who is here organising a train spotters conference in October!
Ushuaia has a population of around 40,000 and is a fairly small town. It’s on a grid system and San Martin is the main street in town. We had a walk up and down and you can tell that it is definitely a poor relation to the other parts of Argentina we have seen. The government has created special tax advantages on imported goods to try and boost the area but I’m not sure anyone will really want to move here. That said, on the way to our hotel there are some large beautiful houses and the whole place has the air of a town that’s just starting to grow up.
Our reccie of San Martin led us to the conclusion that most tourists eat in their hotels and we headed back to base. The fresh air, and perhaps the cold, is knocking us out and by 10.30 we were back in our room and in bed.