Living at the End of the World

They say the best way to learn something is to start teaching it! So here I am in Tierra del Fuego, learning spanish and history of Ushuaia and enjoying beautiful views around the town from the china (fem. gaucho) perspective while guiding cabalgatas. When I was first planning to stay here for two months break between my sailing trips, I was worried a little of being trapped alone at the End of the World. Now I think it may not be long enough to fully appreciate the beauty of this place, not to mention fantastic people I met here! I start to feel like home a little bit.

On the south there is Beagle Channel connecting two different oceans and separating Argentina and Chile. On the north – massive barrier of Andes. Mountains and sea just next to each other! One of my dreams. Day by day nature is exploding with greenery as the spring is progressing and decorating this land with touch of yellow flowers: calafate and common dandelions. But the weather is very variable, with possibly all different seasons in one day, from a perfectly blue sky and calm waters to snow and storm-like winds just a moment later. The fresh snow every now and then refresh dramatic views with the sharp edges of mountains’ peaks. I was blessed though with many sunny, warm days so far, with perfect light for taking photos of my surroundings.

Finally there are horses as part of this landscape, living on the hills of Monte Susana. Perfectly adopted to all the difficulties of this terrain. I love the idea of them being also used in the normal daily activities. It is so easy just to take a horse for a night check or use it to round the others and bring them home in the morning of a working day (sometimes it is not so easy but definitely a lot of fun!). Somehow living a simple life like this makes me feel at peace with nature, like I was also part of it, not totally lost in the world of modern technology yet…

There is around 200 species of birds, living or migrating through this areas. I was really surprised to see two kinds of parrots here: Monk Parakeet and Austral Parakeet. Among the most interesting I have seen also Magellanic Woodpecker, Blackish and Magellanic Oystercatcher, Crested Caracara, Black – crowned Night Heron, Kelp Goose, Andean Condor and the most popular Chimango Caracara, Buff – necked Ibis and Southern Lapwing and many others that I don’t know the names yet. The last two is really easy to distinguish by the noise they make. I wish I could have my camera with me all the time. Sometimes they sit as close as few meters from me, not being scared at all when I pass them on a horse.

Except the birds, there is only few wild species living in Tierra del Fuego, and only two of them are native: red fox (zorro colorado) and lama (guanaco). I haven’s seen neither of them yet as it is probably too close to the town. Then there are also grey fox and infamous beavers brought here by men. The story of the latter is quite interesting as they were first introduced by the government in 1946 with the idea of establishing some fur industry here. At the beginning they brought only 20 individuals form Canada and let them free so they can breed. It went a little out of control and after 60 years the population of beavers in Patagonia was estimated to reach around 100 000. They swam to the mainland too, of course. People were not really interested in hunting them at all. Now it is one of the very few causes that makes the governments of Chile and Argentina cooperate: they need some long term plan to significantly cut down the population of beavers as they destroy the forests on a massive scale while not having any natural predator. It is said that they are responsible for the biggest environmental change in this area since the last ice age! //,19893. /*I think they should bring some grizzly bears now…

Every day I try to discover something new and progress a little bit with my painting. It’s not easy as every day brings a lot of excitement and I just can’t decide what to do first. One time I did a wonderful hiking trip to Glaciar Martial having perfect sunny weather all day. I haven’t seen any glacier there as you apparently need to have some special equipment to do the last part. I thought that I can do it anyway but I changed my mind when I got stuck in the snow nearly up to my hips just after the forth step I made. I may look for a guide for the next time though! I also had a chance to greet my friends when they were passing by Ushuaia while sailing east into Patagonians Channels. I felt like a different age when sitting on a white horse and waving towards the sailing boat far far away. But that’s how it is. I enjoy my life here and daily rutin with having finally time for all my little hobbies and sport excercises in between.

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To be continued…

Next time: How lucky I was just to step in the middle of gaucho’s fiesta in the town with traditional music and people dancing on the street or parade of beautifuly dressed gauchos and their horses wearing all decorative bridles and saddles, celebrating Day of Tradition in honour to José Hernández, the author of national poem El Gaucho Martin Fierro.

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