What did I dread? Here´s what I wrote in my journal yesterday in Buenos Aires as I prepared to board the airplane for the small town of Ushuaia down at the end of the world, just a hop and a skip north of Antarctica:
“Well, the “dreaded” trip is finally here. Dreaded due to the anticipation of cold weather. It´s bright and sunny here in Buenos Aires and on a warming trend again after some cooler temperatures and wind yesterday. I checked the weather channel and Ushuaia might not be so bad as it seems to be in the mid-forties (13C) now, after being 6C, or 38 degrees the last time I checked. Partly cloudy today and tomorrow with sunshine Saturday and Sunday. So, I´m hoping that the old maxim: “That which one fears, never happens” will hold true this time too.”
Throughout my four months on the road, traveling all over the Andean side of South America, I have fretted a bit about my determination to get all the way down to the tip end of the spinal column in my wacky idea of comparing this cordillera to the human backbone. Most of the time spent at high altitude was just plain cold. I´ve been wearing layers of sweater, pants, long underwear, double socks, a neck gaitor, and sometimes, hats, gloves and scarves. I´ve even worn that to bed when my hostel room never warmed beyond sixty degrees. Bogota, Quito, and Cusco were too cold for my blood, even in their summertime. What was it to be like way down there so close to the South Pole?
In Puno, I bought a colorful wool jacket; in La Paz, a heavy fleece jacket. In Buenos Aires, a pair of mountain-climbing pants and finally, some gore-tex high top boots added themselves to the winter clothes I´d been buying all along just to survive. Still, I anticipated high winds, deep cold and maybe even snow. It is, after all, off-season here and the equivalent of mid-October, well into their Fall season.
My blood is Florida thin by now, even though I have previously lived in the middle of the Rocky Mountains in Aspen, Colorado. But there, I was well equipped to deal with it. What was I to do with only the supplies I could carry in my backpack? I was really thinking along the lines of those fur-rimmed parkas and a sled pulled by huskies, though of course, Lonely Planet didn´t describe Ushuaia that way. It did speak of its high winds and low temperatures though.
I wondered who would want to live there year-round. But, there they were, gamely holding up the necessary businesses at the “End of the World…” Fin del Mundo.
Ohmigosh! I love this place! It was warm and sunny today and soooooo much like Aspen with its ski lodge style airport terminal and its world class shops, hotels and restaurants. Absolutely charming and beautiful and the FOOD IS GOOD! But not cheap. I can eat snow crabs every meal, if I´m willing to pay for the privilege.
This is a year-round attraction, with lots of skiing and winter sports as well as summer trekking! Gorgeous. More later as my coin-fed computer is timing out. Just remember: “That which you dread……..”