Back From Patagonia Part 3: Road Trip to the Tip of South AmericaPosted: June 21, 2011
>>>This posts PHOTOS can be found at: The Never Ending Road Trip<<<
If you don’t have an idea of what awesomeness I am about to write here, you should probably scroll up and re-read that title.
Did you read it?
Don’t believe it?
Oooohhyeaaahbaby. I made it to the “top” of the world (as they like to say it “down there”, oh geography humor).
LETS GET STARTED!
From Part 2 of BFP we left of at the beginning of my roughly 24 hour bus ride to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. A port town, developed from a population of prisoners and isolated explorers exiled from the center cities, Ushuaia receives annual tourists every summer/spring/fall (deeefinitely not winter, that place is COLD!) to visit the beautiful state parks and join boat tours that lead to isolated islands with PENGUINS! YAY!
Isn’t this post exciting already!?
Well, sorry but I got to stop you from jumping up and clapping your hands shouting PENGUINS PENGUINS for just a sec. Because, being the poor student I am, I elected to take a bus, to see the country side, and well… to save a few bucks. So, first:
THE BUS(ES) TO USHUAIA:
What we (my traveling mates and I) thought might be a semi-cama (bed) bus that traveled straight to Ushuaia, turned out to be much much more than a sore butt and a quiet journey where one can catch up on their reading. oh no. This is Patagonia and everything is an adventure here.
We left our hostel at 2am in the morning, just as the last backpackers went to bed and the solo night staffer was setting up camp behind the desk. Our backpacks stuffed and our iPods charged, we ventured out underneath the bright starry sky and headed down the dirt hill to the bus station. Like always, we picked up a guia dog who took us all the way to the station, where she even quietly laid down next to our things while we waited for the bus to arrive. We boarded and were happy to find chairs that unfolded into nice slightly elevated beds. Once I figured out how to lean back the damned thing, I was out like Ke$ha after a big bottle of Jack.
The next moment of consciousness was to my SUPER STRESSED OUT companion looking confused as all hell, and everyone on the bus was awake and up collecting their belongings. I thought for a second why this was happening and then I remembered I had TWO tickets. Must have meant something. Probably that we had to change buses as some point. Guess that point was now. We had reached Rio Gallegos, capital city of Santa Cruz, and pit stop for all buses that lead to Ushuaia. It was now 7 am (where did the time go?) and we sat for an hour looking up every time a bus came having absolutely NO idea which was ours and how everyone else seemed to know what to do except for us. Finally a bus pulled up with the same name as the one on our ticket and we grabbed our bags only to be told last minute that we had to “CHECK IN”. Crap.
Rushing back into the station and searching frantically for the right kiosk, we registered and then ran back in time to catch the bus. THIS bus was the long haul. I spent most of my time reading D.H. Lawrence’s “Women In Love” , and catching up on some Zs. At least that is until some stranger woke me up to tell me to get off the bus…which brings me to the next section.
For some historical and complicated reason, the tip of South America is split between the countries of Chile and Argentina. And for some complicated and historical reason, we travelers have to pass through not one, not two, but FOUR BORDER PATROL CENTERS. Each one 10 minutes away from the other, and each one takes 30 to 60 minutes to do the following:
- Get off and back on the bus
- Get your bags (all of them) back off and on the bus
- Have all your ID’s checked
- Have all your bags checked (yes, every damn time)
- And get your passport stamped (woo!)
- Also you get to ride a ferry (not so bad…except when the storm we had been out driving caught up to us and we happened to be riding that same channel that shipwrecked hundreds of people and oh look the waves are getting a little more ferocious looking, are we supposed to rock like that????)
So yes. more exciting that sitting on one bus for FOREVERRRRRRRRR.
After changing buses once more in Rio Grande, the next part of the trip wasn’t too exciting, the sun had begun to set as we started to weave through the mountains on our way to the town. The geography had changed from flat lands and golden fields to green forests and mountains. The last hour was my favorite as I got to watch the beautiful sunset over the Andes and lakes. As we reached Ushuaia, the last bit of sun set and a crescent moon rose over the glowing water. It was a beautiful and perfect way to feel we had passed through the gate into Tierra del Fuego and the End of the World.