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Can be found, courtesy of flickr at:

Flickr Dave
Dave looking out over Villarica
and
Flickr Loz
Loz Sunshine Torres del Paine

Dave’s pics are much better than mine. Some may attribute this to a better camera, some to taking more photos, some to Dave having more talent. All would be correct.

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Spanish is a wonderfully expressive language – to the extent that to my ears poerty sounds far more beautiful in it. Take a look at Pablo Neruda if you don’t believe me. Even that book’s title sounds better in Spanish – would you prefer Twenty Love Poems and One Song of Despair or Veinte Poemas de Amor y una CanciĆ³n Desesperada. My knees quiver at the second one, the first one sounds like something that waste of organs and blood Pete Doherty would name an album. As a result, Tierra del Fuego (lit. Land of Fire) sounds exciting, thrilling and adventurous.

It ain’t.

The name must have come from the same people who saw an icy frozen expanse in the far north and named it Greenland. By and large, Tierra del Fuego (the Chilean side especially) is a flat dull expanse of taupe pampas. It’s only once you hit the south eastern (Argentinian) corner that the hills crennelate and the forests begin to blanket you. And nestled here by the quiet waters of the Beagle channel is Ushuaia, the capital of Argentinian Tierra del Fuego and Malvinas Argentinas (or Falkland Islands as we didn’t call them down here). A thoroughly lovely little city, surrounded on one side by snow-capped mountains. The one minor quibble is the large signs welcoming you to the end of the world, the furthest south permenant settlement in the world. Which I wouldn’t mind, except for the fact that it’s not – Puerto Williams sits just south of the Beagle Channel on Isla Navarino like an annoying Chilean pebble in the Argentinian sandal. Not that you’d wear sandals here as it’s ruddy cold (even in high summer).

And, well, that’s it. End of the World, end of our journey, and just a series of flights back to London. It was a wonderful adventure, the Chileans were extremely friendly (once you got them out of their cars) and a great break from life. Further reflections to come.

(Somewhat delayed by return, Christmas and New Year, here’s the last days)

We returned to Pto Natales at a fairly reasonable time, allowing us to catch our breathe (lest we ingest our steak and pisco sours too quickly) before an early rise took us to Punta Arenas. By this point the weather was getting positively Albionic (with the strange catch of it being light from about 4:30am till 10:30pm). An extremely pleasant paella set us on our way to Isla Magdalena to see some penguins. The island, site of an abandoned lighthouse, positively teems with cormorants and Magellanic penguins. They nest and feed, surf and swim through the rough waters and winds in the summer in Magellan’s Passage, migrating north up the Chilean coast over winter.

Sadly this was our last night in Chile, and another early morning set us on the 14 hour bus ride through Chilean and Argentinian Tierra Del Fuego to Ushuaia.

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