Today, we reach Tierra del Fuego, the ‘land of fire’, and dock at the capital city, Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Antarctica is only 3,000 kilometres away! We are in a bay surrounded by snow-capped mountains, some scraped smooth by glacier movement over time, and others in jagged peaks from eruptions of rock from the seabed
We start on the sightseeing tour to the Tierra del Fuego National Park where we travel in a ‘toy-train’ along the same route through the Valley of the Pipo River. Two hundred years ago, shackled prisoners laboured in extremes of temperature to fell trees for cooking and heating in the prison. Stumps of these old trees have been left as a memorial to their suffering.
It’s a grey, colourless day, not only from the memory of past injustices, but also from the bleak skies. Barbara, our local tour guide announces cheerily, “Today is a very nice day; calm; no wind”. The weather on a normal summer day is wet, with freezing winds from the Antarctic. After the bus and train experience, we choose not to do the catamaran tour – more sea lions, cormorants, cups of tea . . . no!
I hanker for some local king crab, the centolla, that I’ve heard so much about and we set out to find a restaurant for lunch. We know we’re in a good place when we walk in and see the ship’s captain at the next table. The huge plate of natural freshly shelled crab was nearly as sweet as my favourite spanner crab on the Gold Coast, but the grilled Merluza (Black Hake), was by far the best fish I have ever tasted – soft, delicate, moist, light, airy . . . food for the angels!