I think it´s only fitting that I call this entry that given that my first real entry was titled "Journey to the Center of the Earth".
And here I find myself in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Surrounded on all sides by lush yet jagged mountain peaks, nestleing the picuresque Beagle Bay, on the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia really does have a "end of the world" feeling. Everyday boats disembark from the harbor destined for Antartica, a growing tourist destination in its own right. This place is an appropriate place for some reflection on my trip...
According to Ball of Dirt, I´ve travelled 10,838km so far, starting at the Equator and working my way down here, bassically all via bus except a flight to Peru. This is the southernmost point in my trip, and each step from here on out is one more northward, one step in the direction of home.
Home.... I haven´t forgotten it, in fact I think about it a lot these days, all you guys sitting back in Marin. But I still have a long way to go before I come back, and many more experiences left to be had. In fact, I´m only about halfway done! I do feel like I´m entering a distinctly different phase of my travel. The day after tomorrow, I catch a midnight flight from Ushuaia, to Buenos Aires (I know that´s cheating, but its 50 hours in bus, and would cost nearly as much).
When I get there, I have friends waiting for me to hang out with. Jose Luis who I travelled with through Bolivia. Rebecca from way back in Arequipa, Peru. Ben Lawson, who I started all this trip with. Even Renee from IHouse will be there finishing up recording an album, which hopefully I´ll arrive in time to help out with however I can.
After BA, I´ve been planning to head to Rio de Janiero, Brasil, to study music for 2 weeks at a highly recommended school. And after that, the plan is to catch a plane to Guatemala, to volunteer with AIDG (www.aidg.org) for two months, finishing up in June in time to come home for JazzCampWest on June 23rd.
When I lay it out like that, it seems so small, short, contained. Bassically just 3 cities. 3 1/2 months. But of course plans always change, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I also hope to get to know these places on a deeper level than I´ve experienced my whirlwind rush south from the equator to Tierra del Fuego.
Tierra del Fuego.... I just realized I haven´t even described where I am! Too much sticking my head in the bucket of the future. Tierra del Fuego has totally superceded my expectations, primarily because I didn´t know what to expect. Leaving Punta Arenas, Chile, in a bus it was 10 hours to Ushuaia. After a short drive, we came to the Straight of Magellen, a short passage of water at our crossing point. We loaded the bus up onto a ferry and took a quick 20 min cruise across the straight. Luckily that day the water was quite tranquil despite the serious wind. Just left it up to the imagination what it must be like on a bad day.
Upon landing on the otherside, we found ourselves in a climate much like I was expecting for the end of the world. Loonnnnggg.... empty..... fields of grass. A sort of empty desolation that demands silence from its audience.
Oh, that and lots of minefields (aparently the area was victim to Chilean-Argentinian tensions from years past). The Guanaco herds didn´t seem to mind as the galloped through the fields, and I tried to avoid imagining the collision of these two worlds.
Anyways, openess... vastness... strong whipping winds. After a typically long border crossing, I was lured off to sleep by the vast emptyness. I awoke a few hours later to find us smack in the middle of a dense lush forest of beech trees. The forest rose up into sheer stunning mountains, huddleing around the lake at the middle of the island. We climbed high into the snowpeaked pass, into mountains that, for reasons I can´t really explain, striked me as some of the most beautiful in all my journey (and that´s a lot of mountains!). Maybe that I didn´t have any expectations, or maybe it was that the sun was setting, but the effect was just truly awesome. After several failed attempts to capture it on camera, I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
Ushuaia itself is quite a bustling little city of 30,000 or so people, really well laid out for tourists. A strange combination of tourist town like Bariloche, and industrial port to Antartica and ships coming around the cape.
Yesterday, I went out for a hike, taking a chair lift up into a valley and climbing to the base of, yet another glacier. It was a beautiful walk, and better than the glacier itself was the stunning veiw down the valley on the town and the bay. Also they´res a lot of israelis at my hostel so we did a little kiddush last night for shabbat, and I spent all today having a lively debate/conversation about all those things that people stereotypically talk with israelis about.
Then I was lucky enough to just find a plane ticket a few hours ago (they´re normally booked this time of year), and I´ll be off onto my next phase of my journey soon.
I want to say a special thank you to everyone who´s been sending me letters lately. It can get a little lonely traveling alone and its been great having an inbox brimming with love each day :).
So that´s the news from lake wobegone,
Chao for now!