It’s been a confusing month for me. The simplest and most direct questions on immigration forms trigger an identity crisis of sorts. For example, on a recent flight back to the United States for Christmas I couldn’t decipher if I was returning to the U.S. after some time spent in Chile OR if I was visiting the U.S. on vacation from Chile. It turned out to be the latter. As insignificant as this information seems it can get you in a lot of trouble if you cannot remember where you live!
Identity crisis aside, one week ago I removed the U.S. dollars from my wallet and replaced them once again with Chilean and Argentinian Pesos, grabbed my U.S. passport and Chilean Identity Card and made my way to the airport to tackle yet another confusing immigration form. I was having a Jason Bourne moment but without the danger of being followed and killed... oh and all of my ID cards have the same name... and I did not have to visit a safety deposit box to do the pickup... well, it felt like a Jason Bourne moment at the time.
Six hours later I landed here in Ushuaia, Argentina,
where the motto “El Fin de Mundo” (World's End) is shared by at least two other towns in Chile and Argentina. Since Ushuaia is the loudest with their claims to being the southernmost inhabited city, meaning they had the most bumper stickers, t-shirts, and other touristy stuff printed with the logo, it must be so. But I did not arrive here in Ushuaia simply to stock up on t-shirts. I am actually doing my best at distracting myself for a few more days until I leave on a boat for a 10-day trip around the Antarctic Peninsula. Believe it or not, Antarctica is now accessible to backpackers like me by means of "last minute" discount fares. Still quite pricey, but if you have the time and are comfortable with some degree of uncertainty for a period of a few days, you can arrive in Ushuaia and try your luck obtaining one of these spots.
With that goal in mind I arrived here on the 20th of January. The next day I was able to book my trip to leave on the 31st. And what does one do in Ushuaia while anxiously waiting to depart for Antarctica? Well, in anticipation
of this long wait I carried along with me a few classic novels. I began, and finished, an abridged version of War and Peace. Quite a lengthy and trusty companion was Tolstoy for carrying me through the majority of my wait. I have also spent a lot of time watching ships come in and out of the port, took a trip to the museum to read about the history of the former prison and expeditions to Antarctica, and have been trying to stretch my legs as much as possible with trips to Tierra de Fuego National Park and the local Martial Glacier. All simply great and beautiful distractions.
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