The town claimed to be the ‘end of the world’, Ushuaia normally has around 70,000 people but the population grows at this time of the year, the peak season for Antarctic cruises and adventure seekers. From 1884 to 1947 Ushuaia was a penal settlement, Argentina’s equivalent of Port Arthur, and it wasn’t until the 1950s that there was even a road into town. It then became a naval base, with signs around town suggesting that ownership of the Malvinas is still an issue. Now it is primarily a container terminal and a base for tourism – nearly everyone we meet in the streets has come here from somewhere else.
Our hotel is around 5 km from town and right on the water’s edge and we have three nights here to catch up before we head north again. It must be a challenge to walk from the front door to your car in a howling gale but we are blessed with fairly calm weather for the three days stay in Ushuaia. Don’t know why we brought the big bag of warm clothes and thermals, most of the time we are walking around in short sleeved shirts.
On Sunday we have arranged to use a local garage run by Carlos to service the cars. Floor space is fairly tight but 3 hoists accessible after he has moved his Fiat race car with a wild cam and completely open exhaust out into the street with much revving. His neighbours must love him. Nothing loose underneath despite the pounding and a good opportunity to grease all the suspension bits ready for the next stages. The headlight problem turned out to be nothing more than a faulty earth for the new relays installed shortly before we left – apologies to Lucas, not your fault this time.
Our trip had aroused considerable interest among the local tourism people so each evening we were invited to park our cars in the centre of town which attracted lots of attention and even brought out the local TV news crew – more on this later.
As well as being a jumping off point for Antarctic and local cruises, Ushuaia is also a great place to sample seafood with King Crab being one of the specialties. Tough work but someone had to do it..