After 11 hours on a bus from Puerto Natales to Ushuaia, we bid Chile a final farewell and crossed into Argentina and arrived at the “End of the World” this past Friday. We spent over a month in Chile, traversing nearly all of its 2,653 mile length, and I definitely have a fondness for the country and a strong desire to return in the future. Meanwhile, here in Argentina, we’ve already begun to experience the “overly emotional warmth” we were warned about by many Chileans. Although, to be honest, it feels like a nice return to my Chicago days (read: Midwestern days).
While much of our four days here have been spent curled up with a book next to Coby, our airbnb’s amazingly sweet rescue dog, we have ventured out a bit. With a focus on budget-friendly excursions, our big outing of this stop was hiking to Laguna Esmeralda. Just a 20-minute drive from Ushuaia, Laguna Esmeralda is a beautiful lake nestled within mountains and valleys blanketed in wildflowers. While driving there, upon exiting Ushuaia’s city limits, we passed a police check where an officer stopped our car, inquired to our driver where she was going, and after she said “Laguna Esmeralda” waved us along our merry ways. What could we have said that would have elicited a different answer? I’m so confused as to why this happened…but apparently it happens at all times.
The hike itself was a relaxing 9 km there-and-back that felt akin to walking through Hampstead Heath, except with slightly more spectacular vistas. We brought our kindles and packed lunch to enjoy the views at the Laguna before heading on back.
While preparing our lunches for the hike, our extraordinarily welcoming airbnb host, Laura, observed me peeling carrots and cutting them into snack-sized sticks. “Vas a comer estos crudos?”, she asked bemusedly. Apparently eating raw carrots is not a thing here, and when I went on to describe baby carrots (“Si, en los estados unidos tenemos zanahorias bebes y no tienes que [peeling gesture]…”) I was only slightly worried about how awkward my direct translation must’ve sounded.
The rest of our days here have been lazy, with the exception of my morning runs along the water. Along with beautiful views (as I’ve spoiltly become accustomed to) my runs here have also included some solid political commentary. Most notably is Argentina’s insistence that “Las Malvinas son Argentinas y seran Argentinas”, translated to: “The Falkland Islands are Argentina’s and will be Argentina’s.” Fun fact: The Falkland Islands are not Argentina’s, but actually the UK’s. Other graffiti that’s dotted my runs include: “El aborto es mata” and “Carne = muerte”. Not the most original commentary, I must say.
Other than that, the big confession of the past four days has been our becoming regulars at Dieguito’s, a great cafe/deli type restaurant that is probably worried we haven’t turned up yet today. The owner is incredibly nice and also sweetly flattering; “Normalmente personas Estadounidenses no pueden hablar tan bueno Castellano!” That is also where I discovered that cannellonis here are magically made as a type of crepe rather than pasta. Really brilliant decision on their part, because they’re delicious this way.
We’re now staked out at a cafe that actually has good wifi (finally!) before hopping onto a flight this evening to Buenos Aires. Patagonia (and all of its wind) has lived up to its otherworldly expectations, but I’m now looking forward to rejoining sundress weather for our final two weeks in South America. Ciao!