Back On Land

As we said earlier, we’re back.  The rest of the trip continued more or less as it started out, but with a little more surge in the ocean on the way back — people were definitely tossed around a lot more.  The “fin stabilizer” was turned off briefly for repairs during one of the most surgy times, amplifying the effect of the tossing around.

We could give you a play-by-play listing of everywhere we went and everything we saw each day on the trip, but apparently there was one of the staff doing exactly that, so that we don’t have to.  You can go to here to see the report for the first day of the trip — click on “Next” for each successive day.

There was a videographer who made a DVD record of the trip, which was available for the sum of $65 for the first copy for each cabin.  We kind of flinched at the price, but he promised that it would have some footage taken by the undersea expert of her encounter with a leopard seal, which was a little scary for her, but quite exciting to watch.  She used her camera to separate herself from this curious 10-foot animal with its mouth open and its sharp teeth prominently displayed.  So we got one.  I’ll check for the leopard seal as soon as I can.

I seem to have caught a cold on the ship — I didn’t use the hand sanitizer constantly as I should have.  Maybe I’ll feel up to hiking in a national park nearby Ushuaia tomorrow, or maybe we’ll just rest.  The opportunity to do something tomorrow arose because bus tickets out of here turn out not to be available until Tuesday, so we have to spend an extra day.  (We could have flown out, but it’s pretty expensive, even though it leaves at 9:45 and is an hour flight, compared with leaving at 5 AM and being a 12-hour ride, 6 hours of driving and 6 hours of clearing customs and immigration into Chile and out again).  It does give us an opportunity to go to our favorite Ushuaia and Rio Gallegos restaurants instead of only being there the nights they’re closed.

Despite Ushuaia’s intense touristiness, it’s actually a pretty nice place.  The museum we stopped by today was incredibly deep, soaking up three hours easily.  It’s called the “maritime museum”, and it has several exhibits about historical ships, mostly ones which explored Antarctica.  There are dozens of beautifully built models, many by a particular Ukranian model-maker who it was nice to see credited.  But it’s really the “prison museum”.  Ushuaia, like Australia, was a penal colony for many years (1902 to 1947 or so).  All of the exhibits in all the wings of the museum are in the former prison cells.  There are exhibits of prison life, of famous prisoners, of other famous prisons in the world, etc.  One wing is an art gallery.  One wing is entirely empty, and is just an unheated unimproved hallway giving a little idea of what it might have been like to be there.  Outside, between two of the wings, stood the remains of the “prisoner train” that transported prisoners into the nearby forest to cut down trees, and transported the wood back into town.