If I close my eyes, I can feel the air. It was so clean, so crisp, it filled my lungs and infused my body with an energy. I was excited to be in Ushuaia. The anticipation of getting to the End of the World was over but I vibrated with the anticipation of the next day.
I tell this story now, over a year later, to gain clarity on what I saw, what I experienced in those 14 days. At the time, I know now, I was overwhelmed. I saw things I never imagined I would see. I met people that I never dreamed I would meet. All with the outward veneer that I knew what I was doing. Of so I thought.That may not have been what was perceived by others.
That first day, we took a walk just to see what there was to see. The hotel was too far from town for us to explore. So we opted to check out the forest. The hotel folk said the way was well marked. It helps if you actually read the signs.
We got lost somewhere after the peat bog and before the cliff. We headed up hill and found some spectacular sites.
Yes, those are horses in the peat bog. The flowers were blooming in 50 degree weather. It was the height of the Ushuaia summer.
Ushuaia, at the time, was a city of 80,000 people. The Argentine government had established factories which produced computer component parts. The town had exploded in population and struggled for awhile to accommodate everyone. Then the factories were shut down and the jobs went North. The city turned to tourism to survive.
On our return to Ushuaia we were able to walk through town, visit shops and talk to some of the residents. They were reveling in the warm summer weather. Having gotten a bit accustomed to the temperatures but still wearing long johns, sweaters and jackets, we agreed that the weather was magnificent.
But Ushuaia was only a starting point. I was meeting people for all over the world. Our first dinner introduced me to a casino manager who happened to be a concert pianist. He was also a marvelous photographer.
But as we traveled, it wasn’t the fellow travelers that engaged me as much as it was the inhabitants of the most inhospitable of places.
The penguins! They swam, they leapt, they squawked, they fought with each other. They were mesmerizing. At one point, one of our guides reminded us to just sit and take it in. Don’t go anywhere. Don’t do anything. Just watch and listen.
I did. Once the smell of dead krill became normal, one could sit for hours and watch them. It was a constant movement for food, shelter and breeding.
The seals and the whales were about us every day. We had the extraordinary experience of traveling with a pod of B-Orcas (not Shamu types. These are the smaller ones)
And just a little bit later, one of the Orcas gave me a fabulous good-bye present. His tail.
I was allowed to see the most magnificent creatures on this earth, in their habitat.
I had hoped in writing the story again I would be able to express the feelings that rocked me through the entire trip. But, just like those few days, I am at a loss for words. The feelings simply have not corresponding sounds.
As I sit here and remember, they all come back. I am on the Island Sky again surrounded by an immense grandeur that exists no where else.
I was there. Here is the proof!