Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ushuaia


Yesterday I drove from Puerto Natales, in Chile, to the city of Río Grande in Tierra del Fuego. For the most part, it's a smooth drive over paved roads, but I just missed the ferry from the Chilean mainland to the island, and had to wait an hour and a half for the next one--normally two ferries shuttle frequently back and forth across the Strait of Magellan at Primera Angostura, but in this case there was a special trip for trucks carrying gasoline and compressed natural gas to the town of Cerro Sombrero.

Beyond Cerro Sombrero, the Chilean roads are gravel until the Argentine border crosssing at San Sebastián. I arrived late at Río Grande, a wind-blown city on Argentina's Atlantic coast, and took a mediocre (at best) hotel because of my late arrival. This morning I drove to Ushuaia, the main gateway to Antarctica, in magnificent weather even if it was windy on the north side of the island.

Ushuaia is a homely city in a magnificent setting on the Beagle Channel, and the gateway to Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. If the weather continues fine tomorrow, I may take a hike in the park.

While walking around Ushuaia this afternoon, I stopped at Boutique del Libro, a bookstore that specializes in Patagonia and Antartica. It was gratifying to find that they have 100 copies of Moon Handbooks Patagonia in stock, as well as copies of the first edition of MH Argentina, though a new edition is just out; and MH Buenos Aires. Normally when I visit Ushuaia, I sign all the copies and, when I revisit the next year, I find that at least they've sold all the ones I signed. Today, though, I didn't have time to sign nearly 150 books.

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