Wednesday, January 18, 2023
We went to dinner at 6:30. We were at a table for six. I am glad the conversation went well because the service was particularly slow. We each chose the swordfish. We didn’t exit the dining room until 8:45. I called it a night while Chuck went to the Casino to play some poker.
Got up at 6:00 to get ready to go outside to see the six glaciers of Glacier Alley in the Beagle Channel. I went up to the Coffee Bar to get our usual. However, today, being a scenic cruising morning, the Crow’s Nest was packed, and it took over 30 minutes to get our coffees.
Went to third deck (promenade) starboard side in time to see the first glacier. Once we exited “the alley,” we picked up speed to get to Ushuaia.
After we exited the alley, we ate breakfast in the main dining room. I then went to Jim’s presentation on the recap of Glacier Alley. He showed some of the photos he took this morning and then presented maps so we could see our locations. He is a fun presenter. He let us know that he was struggling that morning. He only had one contact in. He hoped the other was still in his sink.
We anchored off of Ushuaia at 11:00. In order to avoid the madness of the Lido at this time of day, we ordered room service for lunch. If you order room service, be sure to give yourself plenty of time. Usually takes 30 to 45 minutes to arrive from the time you order it. The food was on-time, hot, and included everything we ordered.
We had another HAL tour today entitled “Drive to Tierra Del Fuego National Park” and the brochure description was:
About the Excursion – 4 hours
To reach Tierra del Fuego National Park you will pass through some of Ushuaia’s suburbs and cross the Pipo River Valley. This National Park was created to protect the southern portion of sub-Antarctic forest. Today it provides visitors with the opportunity to enjoy the Andes and the region’s forests, rivers, lakes and peat bogs. It is also home to a large variety of birds.
Ensenada Bay offers great views of Redonda Island, with stunning Chilean islands of Navarino and Hoste as a backdrop. You will travel along a narrow and picturesque route that teems with wildlife, stopping to visit Roca Lake and take a short walk along the coast to learn about the local flora.
Finally, you’ll arrive at Lapataia Bay — the southernmost place in the world that can be reached by road. Indeed, this is where the famous Pan-American Highway ends.
Notes: It is essential that you wear warm, layered clothing in order to fully enjoy and participate in this excursion. Outer layer should be waterproof and windproof. Bring gloves, a warm hat and a scarf.
We arrived at the main stage 15 minutes before the meeting time but they ushered us right to the tender. Ushuaia had only two tender piers and I counted four other ships anchored. That should have been my first clue that today was not going to be great.
Our tender was in line for one of the piers to open up. We bobbed around for quite a while. Once we finally got to the pier, the tour operators just pointed to the right and said go to the buses. The sidewalk was filled with vendors, and we had to run the gauntlet until we finally found some buses.
The weather was beautiful and unseasonably warm. Chuck was glad he wore a t-shirt. The bus was comfortable, but the sound system had a terrible echo. Combine that with a guide who really struggled with English, we were only able to understand every few words in her narration.
It only took about 20 minutes to reach the outskirts of the national park. Inside the park, the roads were very dusty.
When we reached the first stop, she said it was the southern-most lake area and had the southern-most post office. She said we had 20 minutes here. Most people headed for the post office to get a card to mail. There was soon a long line. Not all the people got to mail a card as they said the postmaster was very slow. I heard that for later tours he wasn’t even there. In his defense, it was a national holiday, and most people were out and about fishing, picnicing, or just relaxing in the sun.
I know she wanted to leave in 20 minutes but a number of cars, vans, and more buses (both HAL and independent tour providers) showed up and ended up blocking us in. There was a lot of discussion between drivers. I couldn’t understand the language, but I knew the hand gestures.
This same scenario happened at all the stops – too many vehicles, too many people. Lots of loud discussions among the drivers. I decided that the national park must have been the only tour available that day.
Our second stop was the western-most lake area. Again, 20 minutes. She should have realized that it took us about that long to even get off the bus. Didn’t matter. Still got blocked in.
We then stopped at the visitor center for a bathroom break and to look at the gift shop. The line for the women’s restroom was long as usual. I didn’t have time to look in the gift shop. I did get a photo of a large bird that seemed to enjoy posing.
Our last stop was the point that held the End of the Road sign. There was a long line for photos, but it was finally my turn. We were ready to get back to the pier.
We got back to the pier at 6:15. We thought we would have time to go to some gift shops, but we took one look at the tender line that was snaking down the sidewalk and decided we had better get in it.
We finally made it back to the ship at 7:00. We were tired, hot, dusty, and needed a drink. What a day.
The earliest recorded human presence in modern-day Argentina dates back to the Paleolithic period. The Inca Empire expanded to the northwest of the country in Pre-Columbian times.
Europeans first arrived in the region with the 1502 voyage of Amerigo Vespucci.
With an area of 1,073,500 square miles, Argentina is the second largest country in Latin America, the eighth largest country in the world, and the largest Spanish speaking country in the world.
Argentina is home to the highest and lowest points in the southern hemisphere. Aconcagua is 22,831ft above sea level, and Laguna del Carbon is 344ft below sea level.
Argentina has the world’s largest waterfall system in its Iguazu falls on the Iguazu River. The falls have 275 drops and a width of 269ft.
Argentine beef is highly regarded in international markets.
Argentina was the first country to air a radio program in 1920, and currently, has the largest percentage of radio listeners in the world.
The name “Argentina” comes from the Latin word “silver.”
Argentina was the first country to use fingerprinting as a method of identification. In 1892, Inspector Eduardo Alvarez made the first criminal fingerprint identification. Thanks to this method, he was able to identify Fransisca Rojas – a murderer of her two sons.
There are an estimated 9000 bird species, 1000 bird species, 400 mammal species, 300 reptile species, and 200 amphibian species living in Argentina.
The oldest known dinosaur species on earth were found in Argentina. The fossilized remains of about 140 million years old Titanosaur were discovered in Neuquén province in Argentina’s Patagonia region.
Yerba Mate is the country’s national drink and is also known as chimarrão or cimarrón. It’s a caffeine-rich infused drink made from yerba mate herb.
Pronounced “oo -swy-ah”
It is the southernmost city in the world.
It was once a penal colony. Established in 1883 by President Julio Argentino Roca, the prisoners considered most dangerous were sent to Argentina’s southernmost territory, where they constructed the prison themselves, as well as other infrastructure in Ushuaia, such as the railway.
There is a beaver problem. These furry animals were introduced from Canada in the 1940s to build a fur industry, which didn’t work. Now the beavers are responsible for a host of damage around the island.
Ushuaia is not connected to mainland Argentina. The city is on the island of Tierra del Fuego, which is divided between Chile and Argentina. To reach the city by land, you have to cross into Chile and take a ferry across to the island.