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Published: March 15th 2015
Does this depict us - or penguins?
I am back in Ushuaia, but only for a few hours. I sit here at a rustic wooden café sipping on some of, what I believe to be, the best hot chocolate in Argentina. Thick and smooth, not too sweet, a dash of spice, a generous topping of cream, spattered with chocolate dust… The chit-chat, the gossip, a young couple, some well-travelled backpackers! It’s a beautiful café, full of old tins and bottles, paintings from times-gone-by, its friendly atmosphere vibrating through my mug as I sip on this treasured beverage… And a slice of cake!
Ushuaia is a colourful place, climatically, culturally and historically, and vibrant in the arts too! The city at the bottom of the world is an anomaly. Why is Ushuaia here? What do people do here? It has grown at an accelerated rate and attracted people from all over the country to come and live here. There’s a large international population too, people of all colours from all walks of life – the city just seems to pull people southward?
I have spent quite a bit of time in Ushuaia this year and it has grown on me. Behind the main tourist street
What is she doing?
An interesting and bizarre painting at the Ushuaia art gallery.
and beyond the national park lie hidden gems, secrets that only the ‘locals’ know about. I have befriended a few locals and explored some of the residential neighbourhoods – murals and graffiti, statues and sculptures, music and cafes and an eclectic mix of unique houses fill the surroundings. Illegal squatters and wealthy entrepreneurs share the same streets, luxury cars parked next to vandalized and abandoned wrecks, while packs of dogs prowl the crumbling pavements…
The internet is sporadic, the plumbing is hit-and-miss, hot water shower? Perhaps? The store is likely closed for the afternoon, the restaurant may close for lunch, the bus will probably be late and the taxi may never come! There’s a long queue at the bank, the supermarket has no change - and it’s raining outside (usually)… It’s not as frustrating when you accept it for what it is and embrace the inefficiency with a sense of humour! In fact, only when you open up to Ushuaia do you understand why it is like this. Everyone is out playing! The area around here is a stunning wilderness and all the locals are having fun – isn’t that more important than making money?
Ushuaia wasn’t always
OK, so there's a chicken with claws for nipples and a fish tail. There's a mine on a floating balloon behind bars. The meaning is very deep and political.
like this! There used to be a large prison here, a hovel of a place where only the baddest of the bad were sent. Murderers, rapists, armed robbers and arsonists spent their lives behind bars entombed by concrete, surrounded by icy peaks and frigid waters. Now the city blossoms with tourists from the four corners of the world, most of them here to see the amazing scenery and experience the raw wilderness of Tierra del Fuego (The Land of Fire). But some come here to go even further south – to the land of the snow and ice. But like prisoners of yesteryear, those folks who venture this far south feel imprisoned down here – they don’t want to leave! There’s an overwhelming attractiveness to all of this southness and farness. It’s a peculiar place, but I really like it!
I will leave you with some of the more quirky images that I’ve taken from Ushuaia…
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