September 2, 2007

Chile/Argentina Border, Tierra del Fuego

Last night I read from “Fervor de Buenos Aires” by Jorge Luis Borges. His poetry really made me want to spend serious time in Buenos Aires. He captures the essence of the city so well, and I imagine I’d be more in awe if I fully comprehended is poetry (big Spanish words I don’t know). He truly is a great ambassador of Buenos Aires, and his writings make me think it is one of the greatest places on earth, especially in the evening.

As I write this, I am in Chile on the grand island of Tierra del Fuego. This morning I caught a bus from Río Gallegos (after falling in the dark on the torn up streets of the down). We were probably less than 45 minutes to the border with Chile. We had to enter Chile because there is no contiguous road which connects all Argentina. Border control in Tierra del Fuego isn’t like crossing into San Diego. Our luggage wasn’t inspected, but we were asked to throw away all the fruit in our possession. The process still took quite awhile because I’m on a full bus with apparently a lot of fruit.

Once we crossed into Chile, we followed along the Strait of Magellan (Estrecho de Magallano) until we reached a ferry. Being at the shortest expanse on this point of the strait, the crossing only took about 15 minutes. Many on my bus elected to stay in the bus during the crossing, but I couldn’t pass on this rare opportunity of walking the docks of a ship on perhaps the most notorious strait in the world. It was cool with a steady breeze coming from no particular direction. The water had a greenish tint, and the surrounding shores looked as if there could be anywhere in the eastern Patagonia. A grey sky enhanced the perception of absolute desolation. I too would want to mutiny on these waters in the winter.

Since crossing the straight, we have traversed on dirt roads and have seen about one vehicle/hour approach us from the opposite direction. The landscape for now is a hillier version of the Patagonia; however, there is more diversity in wildlife. At any flooded low lying area, birds are plentiful, but I am uncertain of their type. Additionally, what I assume to be alpacas roam in the occasional small group.

We are scheduled to enter Ushuaia after one more border crossing and another 7 hours. In that time, we should also pass through the southern tip of the Andes.

Update: Back in Argentina and after a record long duration for me, back on paved roads. I switched buses in Río Grande, the last city before my final destination (still 3 hours away). Río Grande didn’t look much different from other Patagonian cities: trash everywhere, half the houses still standing, and a lot of brown. They did plant some trees on the main drag in town, and they have wind blocks around each tree. They city is right on the Atlantic, and I can imagine it gets very windy. All the mounds of dirt are also nicely eroded from the wind. Anyways, for the first time since my flight to Buenos Aires, I can finally see some snow capped mountains in the distance. I hope our bus makes it; it is making some bad noises. Fortunately, there are only about 5-6 of us so if we perish, all not is loss.

Photo Info:
1. At border with Chile
2. Sign designating Strait of Magallen

3. Me at Strait of Magallen
4. Other boat at Strait of Magallen
5. Flooded landed on Tierra del Fuego
6. Me at border going back into Argentina (Notice I'm entering the Antartica Province)

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