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Tierra del Fuego - The Land of Fire.  The fires were the camp fires of the Fuegian Indians.  In one version, Magellan saw smoke only and called it Tierra del Humo, the Land of Smoke, but Charles V said there was no smoke without fire and changed the name... The Fuegians are dead and all the fires snuffed out.  Only the flares of oil rigs cast a pall over the night sky.

Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia

From: Tan Wee Cheng <>
Wed 24-Feb-2000

Looking for Ushuaia at the Edge of the World

Ushuaia.  Beautiful name, isn't it ?  For a long time, I have craved for her.  Pure lust.  I have come to the end of the world for her.  Yes, edge of the world.

Look at the southern tip of South America and you will see a large island called Tierra del Fuego, or Land of Fire.  Ushuaia, capital of the Argentine Province of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and the South Atlantic Islands (which theoretically includes Islas Malvinas/Falkland Islands), is located more than 3,000 km from Buenos Aires, 13,000km from London, and 14,000km
from Singapore.  It takes 2.5 to 3 hours for me to fly here on a Boeing 737 from Trelew/Valdes which is located mid-Argentina.  From the above 30'C temperature in Puerto Valdes where I had a sunburnt, I have arrived in damp, wet, cloudy Ushuaia, where I have to put on sweaters to survive the 5'C English-like winter. This is the world's southernmost city, where expeditions and cruise-ships (pray for my lottery, and any extraordinary windfall bonus) set off for Antarctica.

Upon arrival yesterday, I dumped my things at the Kaisken Hostel, which I have booked in advance via the internet (what can you not booked through the internet ?), and hopped onto a 6 hour cruise along the Beagle Channel, the body of water between Argentine Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean island of Isla Navarino, where a dispute over 3 miserable islands almost led to full
fledge war in 1978.  At a fantastic seafood restaurant, I had a fabulous meal of the local giant crab and deep fried fish.

In Love With Ushuaia ?

I woke up this morning to a bright, warm Tierra del Fuego c. 25'C, in contrast to the previous day's 5'C wetness a la England.  The snowcapped mountains surrounding Ushuaia was clearly visible and seagulls greeted the visitor with loud cries.  I visited the Edge of the World Museum where I did the usual tacky tourist thing - getting an "Edge of the World" stamping onto
my passport.  After another visit to the prison museum, I proceeded to Martial Glacier, located in a mountain overlooking the city.  I met two elderly Argentine ladies at the cable car.  One of them, B., from BA, spoke halting but impeccable English of the Home Counties - probably learnt ages ago from an English gentleman, with polite, serious (and old fashioned)
terminology, certainly none of the sort associated with Southpark.  The other, L., non-English speaker from Esquel (of the Old Patagonian Express fame), but with a kind heart all the same.  Together we attempted a slow hike up the mountain.  The cheerful old grannies, though looking weird with their suitcase (!) full of warm clothing and sweet goodies and cookies, were
most contagious with their jokes and laughter, and made the walk an unexpectedly enjoyable one.  Don't underestimate them - for they were armed with rather sophisticated set of cameras and great capacity of walking stamina.  It was a great day, and we parted with open invitations to Bs As and Esquel.

Tomorrow I will fly north again, to Rio Gallegoes where I will get to El Calafate area with more glaciers and mountains.

OK, the sun's out now and it's time to explore Ushuaia.  Pray for my lottery, please.

Bye for now.

Wee Cheng

In the 1890s a crude form of Darwin's theory, which had once germinated in Patagonia, returned to Patagonia and appeared to encourage the hunting of Indians.  A slogan: 'The Survival of the Fittest', a Winchester abd a cartridge belt gave some European bodies the illusion of superiority over the far fitter bodies of the natives.

Ships set sail for Antarctica from here.

The Onas of Tierra del Fuego had hunted guanaco since Kaux, their ancestro, split the island into thirty-nine territories, one for each family...they did not think of extending their boundaries... Then the Whites came with a new guanaco, the sheep, and a new frontier, barbed wire.  At first the Indians enjoyed the taste of roast lamb, but soon learned to fear the bigger, brown guanaco and its rider that spat invisible death.

Ushuaia is 3040km from Bs.As., and 5,171km from the northern tip of Argentina.
Ushuaia, End of the World, the sign reads...Apocalpse ?  No, Edge of the World.  Let's do the tourist thing - take a photo here!
Wild Wild West atmosphere ? Streets of Ushuaia.
Post offcie murals - the indigenous Indians of Tierra del Fuego have all been wiped out...through deliberate massascres and diseases. 
Beauitful city on a beautiful day...
The Government of the Province of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Antlantic Islands - most parts of which are not under Argentine control at all... and the sign further reads: Malvinas (Falkland Islands): Past, Present & Future - Irrenouncible!
The Onas' sheep rustling threatened the companies' dividends (in Bs.As. the explorer Julius Popper spoke of their 'alarming Communist tendencies') and the accepted solution was to round them up and civilize them in the Mission   

- where they died of infected clothing and the despair of captivity.

But Alexander MacLennan despised slow torture: it offended his sporting instincts...Perhaps he knew then that wild nomads are untamable... his methods succeeded where those of his predecessor failed...

He was not among the farm-managers who offered one sterling for every Indian ear: he preferred to do the killing himself.  He hated to see any animal in pain.
Naval Base: This is one of Argentina's most important naval bases and the command centre of much action during the Falklands War. The Prison Museum - Ushuaia was first set up as a penal colony. Beautiful Ushuaia
Don't you want to be here? The Martial Glacier overlooking Ushuaia At the Glacier - a pity I didn't have enough time to scale the summit.
...a party of Indians was heading for the seal colony on Cabo de Penas,... the hunters butchered the seals in a landlocked cove.  

From the Cliffs the Red Pig and his men watched the beach run red with blood and the rising tide force them within range. 

 They bagged at least fourteen heads that day.  'A humanitarian act!' the Red Pig said, 'if one has the guts to do it.'
View of Puerto Williams on Isla Navarino (from the Beagle Channel), the southernmost settlement in the World.  P. Williams belongs to Chile.  The two countries nearly fought a war over three tiny islands near here. Lonely lighthouse at the edge of the world. Want a seal BBQ ?
Estancia Harberton's dead condors.  There are two here - one was found dead and its partner died a few days later of sorrow.  Condors are known to be loyal, loving creatures. Estancia Harberton:  The farmstead was founded by English missionary Thomas Bridges, who did much to document the language and culture of local Yamanas Indians, although his efforts to assist them in a changing world failed when the Indians were wiped out on the onslaught of the whitemen. More seals.
The Patagonia Mainland and Perito Moreno Glacier