Thursday, April 5, 2007

Day 8: to Ushuaia

The next day we had breakfast in their lovely kitchen and went for a walk to see the beavers.

Get this: some goof in some Argentine government thought it would be a good idea to import them and start a fur industry. They abandoned the scheme, but not before the beavers were firmly installed in the country. These people we stayed with can´t keep up with their construction/destruction. We saw dam after dam. They destroy trees, cover up good pasture land with water and generally are a pest.

Back in the van, we headed for Ushuaia. Every day, since we left, the landscape has been different. Steppes, mountains, lakes, water everywhere or land everywhere. Amazing. We rolled into Ushuaia around one and found it another goldrush dump. The place has grown from 10,000 thirty years ago to more than 60,000 today. Building is done in any style in any way, and not always finished. What the people have made is generally as ugly as the scenery around them is beautiful.

When Annie and I decided on this hotel way before Christmas, it had a beautiful Internet sight with soothing quiet music, advertised its restful harmony, etc. Amazing photography. The place is at the heart of the strip, and yet again we slept with ear plugs and a closed door. It`s so noisy at the end of the world!

We took a boat into the Beagle channel and saw sea lions and a colony of cormorants. Penguins continue to elude us. Sometimes we see them bopping up and down in the water, but they´re hard to fix.

For dinner we headed off to a Parilla - one of those restaurants where you have a couple of lamb carcasses roasting in the window. We ate like horses and had a great time. It was so noisy, but in a nice family kind of way. There appear to be tons of Argentine tourists here for the Easter holidays.

--> Now about the dogs. They`re everywhere. They belong to no one and everyone. They at first seemed sad, but when you get used to it, it appears sort of fun. They sometimes hang out in little groups - I saw one with a lab, a furry little thing and a Jack Russel type hanging out together, and this morning, when I went to give a little white dog some leftovers from our BBQ last night, he only half ate it - he was distracted by a buddy across the street. If you can get over the nasty back story (in Puerto Natales, the mayor has put poisoned food out for dogs, who then die in agony - along with any child who also happens to fancy what s/he finds) they`re adorable and demonstrate pure dogness. You can pet them, they`re not scary, and at their best, they have a certain joi de vivre about them. They always seem to sleep where there are people - like bus stops, in doorways. And they`re not as skinny as the working dogs we saw at the estancia.

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