(The first and second of November, 2011)
|Tierre del Fuego "Land of Fire" to the left. Well, that sounds nice!|
|The "Rhea" by the fence is a relative the Emu and the Ostrich|
Less fiery than advertised.
The ferry ride was short and trucker-filled, as usual. We disembarked, and only a few miles down the road ran into Wilson, our Irish friend from a week ago. Meetings like this seem remarkable in such a huge landscape, until you remember there are is only road to the ferry. It was still nice to see a familiar face!
Unfortunately, getting to Tierre del Fuego is not getting to Ushuaia, and we still had a day and a half of riding to do, and the only mandatory dirt riding of the trip. (We did tons of dirt riding over the course of the trip, but this was the only time there was no paved option.) Having been delayed at the border, it was too late in the day to ride the 80 miles of dirt to the next Argentine border, so we found a place to stay in a tiny village called "Cerro Sombrero"
The beautiful environs of Cerro Sombrero. They originally wanted $100(!!!) for one night in the main building, but we ended up getting a $50/night room in the miner's quarters (above) and the spectacular view from our window made it all worthwhile. Think of it, if you lived here, your address could be (in English) "100 Main St, Hat Hill, Land of Fire, Chile" That would be the best perk of living here.
The next morning we were back on the (dirt) road, headed for Argentina, and reasonable prices. But not before a tank of Chile's finest, $9/gallon gas. We had been warned not to stop in this part of Chile because of the prices, but because of the delay at the border, we had no choice. I'm sure it was all a coincidence.
The dirt road was no coincidence, either. A native Ushuaian told me that the Chilean government refuses to pave the 80 mile main road in Chilean Tierre del Fuego because the Argentine government will not lay a natural gas line from Ushuaia to Chilean territory south of Ushuaia, keeping Chile from opening a port there and securing Ushuaia's position as the southernmost city in the world. International relations at their best!
Back to the trip...
Poor little rascal, the only black sheep we saw in thousands of white sheep...
This guy was there to look out for any sheep who were slow and needed "assistance"
The place felt huge, and though it was extremely windy, it was beautiful.
Back to Argentina, the last border to cross while headed south
Tierre del Fuego has been home to sheep ranches since the early 20th century, and outnumber human inhabitants by at least 50 to 1.
Being November, late Spring, every ewe in sight had a young lamb in tow, and often the noise we made while passing sent the lambs running for their mothers. It was funny to watch 50 lambs run in every direction, right to their respective mothers (who all looked alike to us) without any pause or confusion. We weren't trying to scare them, but it seems they don't get many visitors.
As we approached Ushuaia, mountains shot back up from the plains, and it soon looked like we were riding somewhere between Vail and Aspen...
We rode along on the beautiful highway in awe of the snow capped mountains and rich blue lakes, and only vaguely aware that we were nearing the end of the ride south, which we had started six months and 18,000 miles earlier...
We came around a corner, and we were there.