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Arriving at the end of the world

Written on: Sunday February 10th, 2008

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Ushuaia, Argentina

Author: Julie

Hola!

The next morning we had an early morning wake-up. Our plane was at 9 AM and we needed to be at the airport at least 2 hours before departure for our international flight into Ushuaia, Argentina. The owner?s son gave us a lift at a cheaper fare than we would have been charged by a taxi. After a 30 minute ride, we arrived at the tiny international airport of Puerto Montt with its three boarding gates. We checked-in, paid our airport fee and walked up to the sitting around. Our boarding time came and went and still there was no call for our plane. We were surrounded by an American tour group, so we knew we hadn?t missed it. The fog that had surrounded the airport all morning had caused flight delays and we would have to wait an extra hour before we could board. Our flight finally departed an hour and half late and I was a little worried we wouldn?t make our transfer in Punta Arenas, Chile but all went well with us having 45 minutes to spare. Phew!

The next flight was only 1 hour long and we were soon flying over the mountains and valleys near Ushuaia. We have officially entered into our fifth country since the start of our round-the-world. We were even more excited to be in what termed itself, the most southern city in the world. We had heard from other traveller?s about its wild beauty but we weren?t prepared for the sight of the towering, jagged mountains, the snow-capped peaks, the dense forests, the wind-swept rocky beaches, and the overall sense that if you squinted hard enough you could see Antarctica right over ?there?, so close you could almost touch it. There was definitely a last frontier feel as we disembarked from the plane. For the first time in months, we were surrounded by other people wearing fleece jackets, hiking boots and hiking pants as if it was trendy, normal wear for a plane ride. Beat up backpacks and duffel bags were the majority on the baggage carousel as we waited for our bags. This was the gateway to Antarctica and many passengers were here to spend a few days before boarding one of the many ships anchored at port, waiting to return to the silent continent.

Once through security, we made a bee-line to the bank machine to withdraw Argentinean Pesos but alas my card wasn?t being accepted by the ATM. Not knowing what our options were, I approached the taxi driver and explained our situation. She offered to stop at a bank machine in town before continuing on to our hostel. It was supposedly common for travellers to have issues with that particular bank machine. Luckily she was right. Loaded with a new currency to memorise she dropped us off at the hostel we had hoped to stay. It was called Hostel Antarctica (quite apropos no?) but unfortunately, they hadn?t received our email request in time and were fully booked. They let us leave our heavy backpacks while we went looking around the main drag for a double room. We finally found a place after inquiring at 4 other hostels of varying degree of quality. We lucked out at a small place, two blocks from the main strip. We had a bit of a price surprise when we asked about prices, there wasn?t a private room in a hostel anywhere in town for less than 50$. We had been told that Argentina was cheaper than Chile but that didn?t apply to Patagonia. This was going to be the most expensive rate we had paid yet during our trip. We swallowed hard and paid our room fee for the next 4 nights. After a full day of travelling, we were tired and happy to go to sleep early. There was always tomorrow for exploring and discovering this famous city on the backpacker?s trail.