Nos vemos Ushuaia!
When I first came to Ushuaia at the end of October, I was worried that it would be a very long time to stay alone at the End of the World. But soon I realised I was never alone there and after two months, when I supposed to go to Antarctica and then back to Europe, I wasn’t ready to leave this place. I went for my sailing trip and I came back to Centro Hipico for one more month. At the end of February I still didn’t want to leave; but all the arrangement for new adventure were already done so I managed to say „nos vemos” to all my friends and eventually I left. But it wasn’t easy. I feel like I found my lovely home for this couple of months. That home I will miss a lot. But I am pretty sure I will come back there. Patagonia, Ushuaia, Antarctica… Everything so close, everything is possible here. Sailing, horse riding, painting, beautiful landscapes, mountains, Beagel Channel, caletas, snow and ice, nature… Colorful flowers nad now, when I was leaving, trees slowly turning yellow and red. And first of all people, wonderful people!
I want to thank the whole Imbert Family and your Friends! I dare to call Centro Hipico Ushuaia my home – because of you and how you treated me. I enjoyed my time there so much and I hope I will be able to visit you again!
Also people that were just passing by, all the travellers. Full of energy and enthusiasm for their travels and having so many interesting stories to tell. So inspiring. So motivating, the way they were encouraging me to paint more and dream big!! Muchas gracias Amigos!
One day I got a message from a friend that there is gaucho’s fiesta in the town and I should take a horse and go to see it. So I did. Together with couple of my friends we went to see rodeo – jineteada gaucha. As it is spectacular, it is also dangerous, mostly for riders. Controversial as it may be, it is also part of the culture and for many men the way of living. I spent a wonderful afternoon there with my friends, that I would never know was possible if I was just a tourist.
The other day, together with another friend, we crossed the Gaucho’s Parade on the streets of Ushuaia. Beautiful, colorful clothes and very special tack for horses, sometimes the whole families riding together side by side, or fathers holding their little babies in front of them in the saddles… Horses are very important in this world and kids start riding pretty soon. It is definitely not the culture of ‘don’t run or you hurt yourself’. Fortunately. Surprisingly there was very few people interested in watching the parade. Lack of information or lack of interest? That was second part of celebrating El dia de la Tradicion. It is the national holiday in honour to José Hernández, the author of national poem El Gaucho Martin Fierro. Sometimes gauchos sing its verses during their daily rutine. Romantic but sad story with strong political theme that in some places is still up to date. They respect their own culture in a very nice and simple way.
The Parade took place on Saturday so it wouldn’t disturb the traffic during working day. The actual Day of Tradition was on Thursday, two days before. Only one street was closed that day and people were dancing and singing songs, dressed in traditional clothes. I was so lucky I could see it too. One of the reason to travel is to get to know the other culture and traditions, and this one seems to be very close to my heart.
One of my plans in South America was to go for the horse riding trip in Patagonia. Then I heard about Mitre. There is totally remote place in the northern part of Penninsula Mitre, where you, as a tourist, can only go by horses. You can experience 10 days trip from Estancia Maria Luisa all the way to Bahia Thetis and back.
As there are no paths there and most of the area is covered by peatlands, the safest way is to go along the beaches on the low tides, when you can cross the rivers safe or on the edge of the cliffs to avoid dropping to deep in the ground. The forest you can see a little further into the land covering the mountains is changing rapidly as the beavers are continuing to destroy the trees and build dams which result in the land getting more dump and even more trees are dying around… I read somewhere that beavers are responsible for the biggest ecological change in Tierra del Fuego since the last ice age. And they were only brought here by the local government in the middle of XX century in the number of 20 to establish a fur industry! But people were not really interested in this business or something went out of control and beavers started to breed freely, they swam to the mainland too, and after 60 years the population was estimated to reach around 100 000… Now it’s a big problem in south Argentina and Chile and they have to fight it together. Maybe someone should introduce grizzly bears now…
It used to be one huge Estancia Policarpo in north part of Peninsula Mitre. Today only some buldings are still in use and there are no sheeps anymore. But there are wild horses and cows instead. You can also meet red or grey fox and in the western part you can see many guanacos. They usually run away when you stop to take photo but sometimes they look curiously in your way as you pass by.
But the most interesting things to see there are the wrecks of ships. There is a lot of them but only few are still in a good shape. One of the most famous is Duchess de Albany. That was three masted merchant British vessel, 253 feet long, built in 1884 by T. Royden & Sons shipyard in Liverpool. The construction merged the attributes of frigate and clipper and apparently she presented very beautiful line of the hull. She went aground on the night 13 of July 1893 and for many years was nearly intact. It is still not certain what excactly happened. Was it a navigator’s mistake or really bad conditions or was it done on purpose to get money back from the insurance (that was the end of the clipper’s age…), who knows. Enough to say that only one anchor out of two was used in her last manouver as if they didn’t use all their means to stop it from happening. Since then, year after year the wreck on the beach was distroyed more and more by the sea and now you can only see whatever had left from the bow and stern, with the visible section through all her decks. (http://www.museomaritimo.com/Maritimo/Naufragios/naufragios02F.php,
There are still interesting researches going on there, things that you would expect to see in the movie not in real life anymore. Just before my trip, there was a group of scientists that went for the expedition to find whatever had left of Purísima Concepción. It was Spanish ship that sunk on 10 of January 1765 in False Cove close to Bahia Policarpo. This place was called Port of the Consolation of Tierra del Fuego. The whole crew of 193 men survived the accident and for the next three months was living in the temporary settlement next to the beach. All this time they were working on building the new smaller schooner, with the materials mostly collected form the first ship. She was named Our Royal Capitan San Joseph and the Animas or shortly Good Success. On the journey back north, three people died on deck as it was overcrowded, but the ship reached safely Rio de la Plata, where she was heading.
The scientists were also looking for any marks of the settlement and trades with Indians during that time. (http://www.histarmar.com.ar/Naufragios/PeninsulaMitre/PurisimaConcepcion.htm)
For all of them it was first horseback riding experience ever! 10 days trip with sleeping in the small refugios (shelters, huts), diving in search of treasures and wrecks – what a job!
During my trip there I experienced first gallop on the beach ever!! Ten times better than I expected. Long beaches between sharp, black rocks that stick out of water and sand are very tempting for solitude riding. It is all an amazing place, where you forget about world and time. The rhythm of the travel is dictated by the sea. But contrary to sailing, it is the low tide that lets you cross the rivers safe. If you miss it, you may be in danger of being caught in strong currents and taken away or even drawn (I reccomend reading the book „I am the Island” – „Soy la Isla” by Perla Bollo, who crossed this peninsula by foot. It is amazing how wild and isolated this area is from the ‘civilised’ world).
I only went up to Duchess of Albany wreck which was the last sailing vessel that got trapped in tricky waters of this area. Afterwards there were many more engine ships though and nothern coast of Peninsula Mitre is full of wrecks, the same as State Island (Isla de los Estados) and infamous Cape Horn. I visited Seccion La Chaira – the main base today for the gauchos working there and tiny, cosy refugio Rio Bueno. I wish I could come back there in one of the next years and continue the travel all the way up to Bahia Thetis. Using horses as a mean of transport not only for sport somehow makes it more attractive journey! Big, big thanks to Centro Hipico Ushuaia for this opportunity!! http://www.horseridingtierradelfuego.com
I spent there all together more than three months. I had chance to work as a guide for horseback trips in the area of Monte Susana and help gauchos in daily rutine. I made many new friends and I had fun! I truly fell in love with those places, both Ushuaia and Mitre! I know I have to get back there. Plus it is on the way to Antarctica! 🙂
To be continued: sailing trip to Antarctica in January and road trip in Patagonia in February. Nice feeling when coming back home every time to the End of the World!
More photos are available in the galleries of my polish blog: