My first sighting from the bus of the slate grey mountains, dusted in a mosaic of sooty summer snow, provoked an intense feeling of déjà-vu and a twinge of nostalgia. For it was, god forbid, almost 50 years ago that as a medical student I travelled to Nepal and the same scene greeted me from my room in the Shanta Bhawan Hospital.

Both Kathmandu and Ushuaia shared that dry, bracing clean cold weather . Yet the clean brisk atmosphere was to some extent also polluted. In Ushuaia it is the motor vehicle, in Kathmandu 50 years ago, it was the smoke of perpetual house fires of wood and cow dung pats. Give me smokey cow dung any day!

Somewhere in the next year or two, there is a book to be written.

So this is where I am, almost at the end of the world.

The bus trip from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia was scheduled to take almost 12 hours. The distance some 650 km. It wasn’t that the bus was slow, indeed, it was a very modern vehicle but eventually, we had a couple of longish stops- the the 1st to catch a ferry across a narrow strait. See picture below, the point was Campo Cerro

The windswept marine outpost at the straits crossing
The ferry was big! Lots of semi-trailer, tankers as well as tourist buses and vans

Besides a few appreciated stops on the Highway, we had quite a wait at the Chile immigration ( to leave) and then a few kilometres further along, at the Argentine border to enter. Now it goes without saying that given the “ Saga of the Chilean Visa Stuff Up” I was more than a little anxious, indeed as at the airport, scared shitless, that there was now a permanent red flag on the Chilean immigration department computer, against the name: “NORTON Graham Russell”. The driver collected all passengers passports and sauntered down to the Chile Immigration outpost. For what seemed an eternity, we waited…. Was that a military uniformed Chilean immigration officer heading towards the bus,? Did he have his hand on his pistol? Was that a salivating Alsatian (dog!) by his side?

The driver returned with the bundle of passports! He strode up and down the aisle… can you believe it, mine was the LAST one to call out! But I had a STAMP ! I could legally leave and return on 5 days… I assume?

A gull waits patiently for breakfast crumbs

2 thoughts on “Ushuaia

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