Arriving at the closed port in Ushuaia

Welcome to Argentina!

An old boat outside the Presidio

Inside a wing of the Presidio

Art gallery wing of the Presidio museum

Old unrestored part of the old prison

Old unrestored part of the old prison

Engraving on a whale tooth

Ushuaia, Argentina

The End of Argentina

April 25, 2008

Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine

- Pink Floyd

From the southernmost town or city of more than 50 people I was successfully able to cross the Beagle Channel (after several days of waiting) to arrive at the world´s southernmost city, Ushuaia. The cold front continued after I arrived with snow squalls and wind accompanying the cold temperatures. There wasn´t too much to do in the Ushuaia as I didn´t want to visit Tierra del Fuego national park and hike through the snow again, and plus I couldn´t imagine the scenery being any better or even that much different than what I saw across the water in Puerto Williams.

I ended up spending a good deal of time in the Presidio, an old prison. Ushuaia, due to its remote location, served as a penal colony for many years in the early 1900s. The prison is actually quite huge, consisting of five wings with two floors each, with one wing preserved more or less as it was found in a deteriorated condition while others have been refurbished a bit and exhibits have been added to almost every single cell. There is truly an immense amount of information and you could spend several days there if you read everything. Even walking into and out of each individual cell gets tiring after a certain amount of time. One wing houses an art gallery, one covers the history of Ushuaia and the prison, and another is devoted to the history of Antarctica and also the Falklands/Malvinas conflict.

In town there was another museum on the vanished indigenous tribes of the region but again the one in Puerto Williams was more than extensive enough for me. Other than the few museums, at this time of the year there is not much to do in Ushuaia, some hotels and restaurants had already closed for the season and most of the normal excursions to the surrounding area were not operating. The duty free shopping seemed to be a big draw with enormous stores lit up by blindingly bright lights and sparkling floors like in any modern international airport. Some things seemed to be decent values but there were not any spectacular bargains. With nothing else to do I bought a bus ticket to El Calafate via Rio Gallegos with a charming 5:30am departure. The ride was scheduled to include four border crossing checkpoints, one ferry ride, and an almost four hour layover in Rio Gallegos before arriving in El Calafate at 1am. Nothing comes easily at the end of the world.