Category Archives: Argentina

Cape Horn

We were fortunate to be making such good time on the way back, that we diverted over to Cape Horn. Cape Horn is at the very tip of South America.

In 1904, 400 to 500 ships came around Cape Horn, 12 were lost. In that time the sun was needed in order to navigate, however, the sun wasn’t present a lot of the times. As a result, ships would turn too soon and run into Cape Horn. 50 limped in for repair and 12 turned around and went the other way.

In 1914, the Panama Canal opened and and ships took this shortcut instead of rounding the Cape.

For sailors, they could put one up on the table if they had rounded Cape Horn, and two if they had been to both polar regions.

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Islas Malvinas

Islas Malvinas to the Argentine people. The Falklands to the British.

In the 1830s, the British took over the Falklands and sent all Spanish-speaking people back to mainland Argentina. Maps in Argentina still show the islands as belonging to Argentina and are labeled as Malvinas.

It’s said that the British people currently living on these islands are more British than actual Brits.

In 1982 when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of England, things reached a heated peak. She was losing popularity and needed a boost, the same was needed for the Argentine president at the time. Argentina had no allies to help them. Meanwhile, Chile let the British in which of course was quite upsetting for Argentina. The battle lasted 72 days with about 600 Argentine’s dying.

There is a one year cumpulsory service for Argentineans, meaning that many of those who fought were 18-22 with little to no preparation for actual battle. Despite their defeat, they still expected to receive a warm welcome when they returned with flags flying. This did not happen. They were told to forget about it and not speak about it.

While 600 died fighting, another 600 committed suicide when they got back as no services were made available to them.

All around Argentina, there are now memorials for those that lost their lives fighting for the Islas Malvinas.

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Tierra del Fuego

What a beautiful place!

I went on a canoeing and hiking tour where we started paddling in Lago Roca at its Southern Point, going past the island in Rio Lapataia. We had to lift the canoe out of the water at one point and move it over to the other side as we weren’t allowed to go under the Rt 3 bridge, we then continued around the other islands before finishing.

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Beautiful is almost an understatement. The whole day was an excellent experience with nature and very peaceful. We saw various bird species and hoped to see otters but didn’t see any. IMG_9346.JPGIMG_9347.JPGIMG_9350.JPGIMG_9351.JPGIMG_9355.JPG

We came out of the water at the end of Rt 3, taking some photos with the signs there of course. IMG_9361.JPGIMG_9362.JPGIMG_9363.JPG

At lunch, the tour had us at a waterfront tent. We had some unique company – a carancho, which is a hawk, vulture, turkey type of bird. It was very calm but it definitely knew we were eating. It posed for us and stood guard outside of the tent while we ate. It was joined by a smaller one after a while. It got quite close to the opening, testing the limits sometimes before scurrying back to its perch on a log, just feet from the entrance. IMG_9367.JPGIMG_9371.JPG

After lunch, we did about a 2 hour, moderate hike up to a viewpoint where we could see beautiful peaks, including the Condor in Chile. There were various signs along the way with a tree as your guide. When we first started out, El Tren del Fin del Mundo (Then end of the world train) was just passing by so we waved to the passengers. IMG_9383.JPGIMG_9387.JPGIMG_9390.JPGIMG_9392.JPGIMG_9397.JPG

There was a beaver site on the hike as well. The beavers were introduced in 1946 by sailors and thrive in the area. They are much bigger than their Canadian counterparts since they don’t have any predators – 30 vs. 40 kilos. There were many flowers on the route, including palomitas, thin little white flowers that sprouted up everywhere. Palomitas means little doves in Spanish. IMG_9408.JPG

The Magellan Strait above Tierra del Fuego was first discovered in 1520, it took almost 300 years before the Beagle Channel was explored, with Charles Darwin on board the Beagle ship. They are separated by ~300km so they joke that only a km per year was explored!

Ushuaia – Museo Maritimo and Presidio

This museum is home to multiple mini-museums within it’s walls including: the Maritime Museum, the Prison Museum,the Antartic Museum,the Marine Art Museum, an Art Gallery, and the history of the city of Ushuaia.

It’s housed in the building that was home to the prison which was built in a spoke style with a central gathering place which appeared to be used as a gym, with basketball lines on the tiled cement floor (also a bar for the naval crew!).

In 1882, Ushuaia was developed as a penal colony, starting out with just a few dozen people and prisoners who had been selected due to their building skills. Gradually more people came down and more prisoners.

Give its remoteness there were no visitors for the prisoners and the guards lived a lifestyle similar to the prisoners in regards to meals and cold weather. Prisoners preferred working as it kept them warm and occupied versus freezing in their cells.

Given the unique layout of the prison/museum, one spoke covered the prison, another Antarctic adventurers, one with photography, and one with smaller area with nature and Darwin information.

The Antarctic section covered a lot of the Argentine explorers and also talked about how dogs were banned and had to be revmoed a number of decades ago.

The photography section was spectacular! Photos of ice formations, of penguins, the winter night sky. I wish I could just put all of it up on my walls.

http://www.museomaritimo.com/en/

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They had a special room for the visually impaired to experience. I had never seen anything like that before. img_9432img_9433img_9434img_9436img_9437img_9438img_9440img_9441img_9442img_9443

 

 

Flying Stories – Argentina

There are two airports in Buenos Aires. Ezeiza is the main international airport that you will most likely fly into from non-South American countries. AEP is the airport right in the center of town and is only a 15 minute drive from most hotels. I went via this airport to Ushuaia, about a 4 hour flight south from Buenos Aires.

While going through security in the early hours of the morning, a family was right ahead of me. They had a sleeping child who was passed out on the shoulder of one of the parents. Well the security guard took the child and held it while the family went through then handed him off once they were through. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen in the airport but it definitely would never fly in the States.

As in Europe and Asia no bags are allowed in the Emergency Exit row. (Being tall I always ask and typically get it because the ticketing person takes pity on me.)

While on my flight down to Ushuaia, there was mild turbulence but on a scale of 0-10, it was a 1. Yet the seat belt sign remained on for the majority of the flight (I should note that it was turned on right after the beverage service). I had been sleeping due to the early morning hour so decided to go to the restroom upon waking up. I made my way back to the restroom and was promptly yelled at halfway down the aisle by the seated flight attendant to return to my seat. I was half awake and wasn’t really paying attention to what exactly was being said but I had a feeling I should probably sit down. A couple of other people tried the same but were told to sit down as well.

At a certain point it became what in my mind was an inhumane situation, especially given the lack of actual turbulence. I just charged back there and politely but desperately, asked in Spanish if I could please use the restroom. The flight attendant yelled at me some more and pointed at the seat belt sign but she did manage to unlock the restroom for me in the process, because yes, not only are you supposed to not get up but you can’t even get in the locked bathrooms.

As a traveler and a human being, at a certain point you don’t care when it comes to the bathroom. I will gladly pee anywhere if it means I don’t embarrass myself by peeing in my seat! In this case there was only one appropriate place since we weren’t in the great outdoors.