September 4, 2007


Last night was another good night of conversations. I spoke with two men who live in the hostel. I have been surprised how diverse the conversations had been. This one ultimately came to a conversation about the US Civil War. I was very impressed how much these two individuals knew about US history. The claimed that all school children in Argentina learn about US history. I'd be surprised to find any US school children who could name one Argentinian president or war leader.

When I went to bed, I found that the new occupants in my room had probably not bathed in awhile, it was rancid. I could hardly breathe, making it a very difficult night to sleep. This morning greeted me with rain. The rain was a good excuse not to do any outdoor activities and to instead allow my body time to heal after yesterday (I can hardly lift my left leg thanks to too much running when younger).

I ran some errands and then headed to the local museum. The first museum I went to was very impressive. It was a jail converted into a museum. Originally Ushuaia served as a penal colony. All the worst criminals were sent here. Even if they did escape the prison, there was no where for the prisoners to go. They'd surely perish in the harsh environment. This was a perfect spot for a prison. The museum as I said was very impressive. They had different displays in all 300+ prison cells. Some areas were themed around the prison hsistory and specific prisoners while other areas revolved around the city's history and local meritime history.

My favorite, however, was the wing of cells which served as an art gallery. It was perhaps one of the most creative ways I've seen art displayed. I enjoyed it more than the Guggenheim in NY or the Weisman in Minneapolis. I'm not sure why it was so attractive to me, but it's hard to fathom that they could transfer a cold, desperate prison to a beautiful piece of art.

The museum also had a cool display of replicated maps from some of the earlier explorers to the area (notably Magellan, Darwin, Cooke).

After this museum, I ventured out in the rain to find el Museo del Fin del Mundo, the Museum of the End of the World. This museum was centered around the history of the city. This museum was very small and replicated much of the info that the old jail museum thoroughly discussed. Still there was some fascinating bounty from local shipwrecks and a room full of all the local birds (stuffed of course). Not until after I left did I learn that the library had tons of texts related to Darin's visit (something I really wanted to see). At the time, I thought the library was only for researchers...then again I could be called a researcher.

The rain is still falling hard, and it is now dark and not safe to explore the Andes. I went to where I thought Francene was supposed to be and acted like I was looking for a room. I had the lady show me all the rooms and even prove to me that the water was hot. (Note: I later learned this was the completely wrong hostel)

Picture info:
1. Unrestored wing of the prison
2. Restored wing of the prison/museum (exhibits in the cells)
3. Scale model of the Beagle in maritime wing of museum
4. Me by stuffed emperor penguin
5. Wing of museum which displayed art
6. Photo of a piece of art in one cell
7. Map claimed to be used by Magellan, already depicting the Straight

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