Down south – Day 381 (29,177 miles)

We’ve been meaning to show you one of these stoves for a while, kind of a half size Aga really.  They have been the cooking and heating fixture in many hostels and campsite kitchens we’ve stayed at in southern Chile.  Until now we had only come across the wood burning type but this one in Puenta Arenas was gas fired so much quicker to heat up, a bonus as we were the only ones in the hostel, there weren’t even any staff most of the time.  They just gave us our own key and left us a small noisy cat to feed!

We ventured out to get some exercise and thought we would walk  8km to see a couple of replica ships, including this very famous one.  Did we enjoy the walk?  Well no not really, it was 8km on virtually continuous black ice along a road not unlike the A30 (if you know it!) in rush hour.  The traffic was so loud I didn’t hear John slip and head butt a lamp post behind me, but I did hear him swear afterwards. ?  Luckily just a bit of a bump, needless to say we got the bus back.

Seaman McComb, no Captain Pugwash jokes please!

John looking for that all important best vantage point for a photo of the cemetery.  I hope he said “Disculpe por favor” to the residents.

We visited a small museum that had been the home of Sara Braun a super rich Russian lady who was widowed young and left a fortune by her Portuguese sheep farmer husband.  Very fancy, all created by European architects, craftsmen and furniture makers.  Definitely a case of ex-pats trying to make their new surroundings just like home even in Edwardian times!

Still this lady and her friends were obviously the right people to know if fund raising was required.  She was one of the first people that Ernest Shackleton contacted when he arrived in Punta Arenas to raise the funds for an attempt to rescue the crew members stranded on the Endurance in the Antarctic.

Medicine for his bumped head, there is some seriously nice beer in Patagonia.

9.00am and the sun was just rising as we left Puento Arenas for a 2 hour crossing to Tierra del Fuego

One of the downsides of being here this time of year is we’ve missed the thousands of Megallanic, Macaroni and Rockhopper penguins that are in the region for the spring and summer months.  Luckily there is a small but growing colony of King penguins on Tierra del Fuego that stay all year.  It is a reserve and the viewing area is about 30m from the birds so binoculars were needed to get a good look but it was great to see and hear them.

The sun shone for us which showed off their lovely markings.  We managed to watch them for about an hour in the biting wind before tear filled eyes, frozen fingers and the lure of a hot cup of tea in Juanita seemed a better option.

Some of the chicks looked like less food and more exercise might be a good idea!  To be fair their fur is really long and dense but some of them really looked like rolling would be easier than walking.

Flippin’ chilly and this was about 2pm.

We were back on the Atlanic coast for the first time in a year, as we passed through Rio Grande we came to an impressive memorial for the Argentians lost in what we know as the Falklands war.  Rio Grande was the aircraft base from which the Argentian planes containing Exocet missiles flew.

Over the next few days we would see many road signs, stickers and graffiti bearing the words

Las Malvinas son Argentina’s.

It’s no surprise really, and we haven’t felt any bad vibes or the need to fib about our nationality, but certainly I hadn’t really considered that some of the Argentinian population feel that way, I thought it was just the Goverment.  John who is  better informed about such matters was less surprised.

We arrived in Ushuaia and settled into a nice little hotel, over budget but warm, clean and nice parking for Juanita.  We both felt the need to be able to take our socks off at night and actually be warm enough to get dry after a shower at least for a few nights.  Plus the view below was worth a few extra pesos.

After a bit of walking around in the snow we went into the visitors centre for a hot drink, the background music playing was Trash by Suede, followed by Blur and Oasis.  We both got a little homesick over that Britpop compilation!

First outing for the snow chains, the Ranger at the Tierra Del Fuego park entrance insisted we put them on, we’ve been in much worse conditions without them but rules are rules?

Lago Roca.

The Museo Maritimo is huge and was a prison for the first half of the 20th century.  There had been a growing penal colony in the area since 1896 and prisoners were used as the labour to build what is now the museum.  There is loads to see, not just about maritime but exploration, the original prison cells and an art gallery.  Plenty to keep us off the streets of Ushuaia for a few hours. Boy is it expensive here, definitely European prices, especially considering the Sterling exchange rate at the moment.

So, on FB I kidded this was John, obviously not true ?Seeing the attire that some explorers trekked across the Antarctic in makes our whimping out and staying in a hotel feel a bit lame.

So that’s as far south as we go, had it been summer we might have considered really blowing the budget on an Antarctic cruise but for obvious reasons they don’t sail this time of year.   Quite relieved in a way that the decision was made for us!  We’ve loved what we’ve seen in Patagonia, now onwards and upwards.xx


8 thoughts on “Down south – Day 381 (29,177 miles)”

  1. Good to see your latest update. More great photo’s and I love the penguins.
    Keep em coming.


  2. Hi John and Jane,
    Glad to hear you’re having a great adventure. Looks Cool!
    I’ve just shared your blog with Ian Gibbs, who is sitting beside me marveling at your lovely pictures.
    He sends his regards and is glad you’re enjoying yourselves on this epic trip.
    I’m guessing that Ushuaya is your turn around point and everything will be downhill (or uphill) from here on..
    Best wishes and warm donuts,
    Duncan and Ian
    XX (for Jane)

  3. Currently doing our two week Jane and John trip visiting France Italy Switzerland Luxembourg and Belgium. We are small fry in comparison.

    1. Great to hear from you Andy. Good idea to start any world trip small and local, then work up to the more distant lands.
      Hope you have a lovely time. Love to Jo and the girls. Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

  4. John & Jane,

    Great blog and great photo’s. It does look mighty cold though. Good to see that the Argies are still going on about the Falklands!

  5. Great pictures! Love all your posts. Can you believe it’s Mountain Fair this weekend, John can come back and have his Mango on a stick stand!! Miss you guys.

  6. Just read your blog it all looks amazing but very very cold. Hope the end part of your trip is just as enjoyable. Looking forward to seeing you both in the not to distant future. Take care and lots of love Sister Susie xxx

  7. Hi John and Jane! Now we know how the British conquered the world! Unafraid of anything, just like you! Patagonia in winter in a small car like yours, you are the toughest of all of us globetrotters! ( We feel like couch potatoes up here in sunny Alberta). Again, wonderful pics from John. I enjoy every post you’re able to send. Have a safe journey back north. How far do you actually want to drive? When will you be back in Europe?
    Lots of hugs! Christa and Stefan

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