On Boxing Day I started the trip down to Ushuaia; in Tierra Del Fuego right at the very south of Argentina. 5 days, 2366kms, 60 hours on a bus, 2 very long border crossings, 9 episodes of how I met your mother (Miguel... I curse you for getting me into this show!), a stellar find of a nut shop in Rio Gallegos, alfajores on the bus, a ferry ride and miles and miles of open patagonian plains, The first thing I noticed after steppng off the bus after leaving BA was the wind. It really is windy, and getting windier as I head further South.
OK so I'm being lazy with the captions on the pics... but there's more pics on Picasaweb (http://picasaweb.google.com/FatMeercat/LaRutaParaUshuaia_261210311210), most with captions.
(this was written on 31st Dec) Currently I'm about 2100km into the stretch, and stuck at the last border crossing back into Argentina. While our passports have gone off walkies for checks, I've taken advantage of a still bus to jot this entry down. I feel slightly sheepish that I've not done this earlier; it's not like I'm 'busy' or have no time, but time just seems to pass here and perhaps there's not too much to write about yet. But here goes..
I started the trip down with an overnighter in the bus to Viedma/Carmen de Patagones. Before I get stuck into regaling you of the not so exciting trip, can I just say this about Argentinean busses; everyone says they rock and they really do! I can't imagine spending 15 hours in a bus in Australia or England, but here the time just seems to go by, the seats recline to nearly a bed and you get fed:) Everyone always did say how comfortable they are, and all I have to say is that they really are and definitely an easy way to travel here.
So, after spending a day walking around a not so exicting Viedma and napping on the riverside, I caught the 2am connecting bus to Puerto Madryn. I jumped straight on another bus to take me to Puerto Piramides, a smaller, rather touristy town near Peninsula Valdes; a UNESCO world hreitage site wildlife reserve and breeding grounds of the Southern Right Whales, elephant seals, sea lions. And you ask did I see any whales... well the silly answer is that no, I didn't. I suppose maybe I should have made more of an effort, but I did have a lovely chilled out afternoon walking on the beach with my new friend Juliana, and we also went up to the Elephant Sea colony and even saw a recently born seal (complete with seagulls hanging around the placenta). I have since met other people who saw whales there, but it will just have to be saved up for next time I suppose.
It was the prefect break though from the city-ness of Bueons Aires, and I'm glad that I got to do some beach wandering and relaxing. Puerto Madryn sort of feels like the gold coast on spring break – loads of party tents set up on the beach, lots of teens going crazy and having a good time. Would have been a fun place to be with friends for NY on the beach, but no I decided to press on with another overnighter bus to Rio Gallegos.
Many people diss Rio Gallegos – right so it's a flat rather dreary town, but the odd thing about it is it's got a lot of money. Nice European cars, lots of health food/alternative shops, shops galore, expensive restaurants. It is a mining town, and it sort of had that feel of people with money to spend in a rather dreary place. The river for which it is named isn't that exciting, I forayed down there and it was windy, misty and pretty empty of life. But nonetheless I did sort of like it, it was relaxed, had everything and abounded with shops I can buy nuts in. I sort of got a little excited and spent about 5 pounds on a bag of macadamia nuts. Oops... but soooo good. It's pretty much half of what I paid for accomodation that night so have resolved to steer clear of the expensive items.
Ok, getting a bit hot and bored waiting at this border crossing. Having so many immigration/customs queues to line up in though does mean I get to practice my abysmal Spanish with fellow travellers. The type of traveller on this final leg is definitely more touristic and affluent, up till now it's mainly been people either visiting family, returning to work or mothers/children travelling to see the fathers. More hiking gear everywhere!. Oh and I've resolved to get a tent. A highly wind resistent one:)
Bus is moving again now and the rocky roads probably not condusive to my awesome little netbook on lap so going to sign of now:)
Oh I've just realised that it's 5pm here, so therefore already a happy new year in Australia!!! By the time I post this it will be about 10pm here, so happy ny to one and all:)