Ushuaia: Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego
Here’s the short version of my latest story from Argentina:
I met Susanna on my flight to Ushuaia.
At the airport, I suggested she ride with me and Javier to the guest house. She agreed.
Javier, the owner, made her a good offer for a room.
Susanna and I were travel buddies for four days.
Here’s the longer version of the story:
On the jet way as I boarded my flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, I spotted an attractive young Asian woman. Naturally, we had a brief, friendly chat.
A couple of hours later, as we disembarked from our flight, I mentioned to my new friend that I was being met at the airport by Javier, the owner of the Martin Fierro Bed & Breakfast where I had reserved a room. I had also researched the B&B on TripAdvisor.com. Many of the previous guests mentioned that Javier was a cheerful and generous host.
I explained to the young lady that I was sure that Javier would be pleased, along with me, to take her to town. Which, of course, he did.
We arrived at the B&B. Javier showed me to my room on the ground floor. Then he took my companion to the second floor. She was pleased with the room and decided to stay.
Later, over a hot coffee in the breakfast room, we made our introductions.
Javier is from Mendoza, a city in north Argentina. He attended law school there. He decided to live in Ushuaia where he handles a variety of legal matters for the residents. He also owns the B&B. Javier is enthusiastic and thoughtful and treats us like friends. He is just the type of “character” one would expect to find living in a town at the “end of the world.”
Javier speaks good English, but when he gets excited about something, which is quite frequently, he defaults to his native Spanish. I was surprised that I could follow much of what he said, and even respond with a bit of Spanish myself.
Javier is also a traveler. At the moment, he is preparing for his upcoming trip to San Diego, California. I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up at my doorstep one day. Javier and “Juan.” Two “trombenicks” in Bangkok together. Now that would be a treat!
Su Hyun is from South Korea. Since her name is a bit difficult for foreigners to pronounce correctly, she chose Susanna as an alternative. She studied sociology at her university. Susanna decided, at least for the present, to forego the traditional and conservative Korean lifestyle and stay single. She finds employment with non-governmental agencies, and sees the world.
For her first assignment, Susanna volunteered for two years in Nepal. Then she worked for two years in the Dominican Republic. Now, she is the manager of a social service agency in Ascension, Paraguay. We met because this weekend is Independence Day, a long holiday weekend in Paraguay and Susanna takes every opportunity for travel.
Susanna speaks fluent Spanish with an excellent accent. And I must admit, with both envy and gratitude, that there were several moments during out sightseeing together that her fluency was quite helpful with the locals.
More than helpful is Susana’s charming smile, her calm demeanor, and her respectful and agreeable attitude towards her new friend. It was a delight to have Susanna as my travel companion.
On our very first afternoon, we took an “orientation” stroll around town. We had a beer and dinner together.
The next afternoon, after the Tierra del Fuego rain finally stopped and the Patagonia fog finally cleared, Javier took us to the base of Glaciar Martial. There’s a steep gravel road up the mountainside. (The“aerosilla” - “chair in the air” is not operating this late in the season.)
Susanna and I began the ascent together. But it quickly became apparent that my strength and energy levels were far inferior to that of a young, eager, flexible, and experienced climber. I insisted that she walk on ahead and in a few minutes Susanna disappeared up the mountain.
Slow and arduous was my climb through the chilly polar air up the damp gravel road. With my hiking stick-assisted gait, I did manage to reach the abandoned chairlift station. Sometime later, scrambling down the rocky, icy, muddy paths and with a big smile and a happy greeting, Susanna reappeared to tell me of her conquest of the glacier.
My own climb was less adventuresome, but just as satisfying (and exhausting) for me.
And oh, in late afternoon light, what views there were down to Ushuaia, to the Beagle Channel and the mountains afar of Tierra del Fuego!