Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Cruise in Tierra del Fuego to Cape Horn

 As we were about to leave Punta Arenas, we said goodbye to our very special guide, Cota.  We had grown very attached to her and she to us.  She read a Maya Angelou poem to us, expressing her feelings.

We boarded our ship, the Via Australis, at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26, in Punta Arenas, which is situated on the Magellan Strait.    By the way, the words Austral and Australis (and Australia) come from the Latin word for "south."

 You can get an idea of the size of the ship by the person standing nearby.  There were 88 passengers on the ship (some in single rooms) and 44 staff.  The ship can hold up to 128 travelers.

     Punta Arenas was founded on Dec. 18, 1848 and is located at 53 degrees parallel.  It is the capital of the Magellan and Chilean Antarctic region, and has a population of approximately 131,000.
The birds gave us a send off.
  The ship, which has been in use ten years, had 4 floors and was very easy to get around.
The first thing we did on boarding was to check the 2 life jackets in our room to see if one was the right size.
Then we met in the 4th floor Sky Lounge for a welcome, including drinks and appetizers.
The open bar on the 4th floor Sky Lounge

Appetizers and Calafate sours for all
Welcome by the captain and meeting many crew members
We then saw a slide show introducing us to the ship and what we would do the next day.  Each night we were to have something similar.  We all got canteens to use to get drinking water from a dispenser on each floor and to keep as souvenirs.
 The large fourth floor Sky Lounge is where we met to hear plans for the next day and to depart from the ship.  As I mentioned, there was an open bar there too and many took advantage of it.  The views were great from here too.
 On the third floor there was another lounge and access to the deck outside.  We watched dolphins from the deck several times.  Also, we could go there early from 6:30 a.m. to get coffee, tea, and a light snack before breakfast.  We had several presentations there too including the documentary movies that we saw..
 It was  nice to observe from the top of the ship too, but also was quite windy.
 The reception desk was just down the hall from my room.
 Opposite the reception desk was a small library about the Patagonia in English and Spanish and a small gift shop.

 We had our meals in the first deck dining room.  Breakfast and lunch were buffet style with a wonderful selection of food.  Dinner was served by a waiter with several options to choose from.  Our group had two tables, both to the right and one next to the windows.  Our waiter Danilo was wonderful and very helpful.  Tips for the staff were included in our travel cost but some of us chose to give him extra.

The map below shows our departure point, Punta Arenas.  The next day we went to Ainsworth Bay, then to Tucker Islets, following the Pia Glacier, Glacier Avenue, the Beagle Canal, then down to Cape Horn, and back to Ushuiai in Argentina.

Dinner included a big king crab salad or vegetarian choice, chicken broth, beef for fresh fish (Hake) with or without a shellfish sauce, and ice cream and apple pie for dessert.  Wine, tea, etc. were offered.  We never went hungry.  We were lent Wellington boots too if we were concerned that our waterproof shoes were not enough, but they didn't fit most of us well and we really never sunk in deep mud or snow (as we had amazingly good weather), so our shoes served us well.  I got two more buffs from the ship store for $10 each, after getting some for less in Punta Arenas. REI has them for over $20 each I found out.  The buffs really proved helpful in the wind and cold.

After sleeping very well, I woke up before 7 to a stunning view of tree-covered hills capped with a dusting of snow.  Within minutes the stormy looking clouds disappeared.

  We got a wake up call at 7:30 over the intercom and an announcement of the temperature--7 degrees C (44 F).  .  We were near Ainsworth Bay already, the north end of Tierra del Fuego.  After breakfast, I went outside on the 5th level and saw a fishing boat bouncing in the waves.
As we entered Ainsworth Bay,  we were lucky to see the Marinelli Glacier (15 kilometers/9 miles) in the distance.  Since 1984, it has shrunk 11 kilometers (6.6 miles) and since 1914 it has shrunk a total of 15 kilometers.   It used to reach this rocky area where we landed.  We heard about a teacher and priest, Alberto de Agostini from Punto Arenas,who explored this area from 1914 into the 1920s and took pictures of the area.

The national park here is named for him.

 We saw lots of mussel shells on the beach and a few scallop shells too.

We took the Zodiac motorized rubber boats from the ship to Ainsworth Bay where we had a choice of a rigorous hike or an easier nature walk for about 90 minutes.  I chose the latter while 5 of our group chose the former.  Our walk was too easy but still informative--hopefully they will have something in between the two on future trips.  Our guide was Hernan.
Photo of our ship taken from the Zodiac
Members of our ship traveling by Zodiac and landing at Ainsworth Bay

After Magellan and his crew explored the area, few others came.  Maps only had the Magellan Straits and then ":Terra Australis Incognita).  Then the British began to explore the area.

While the weather is rugged here, plants grow.  We saw the appearance of living on the rocks starting with  lichens, then moss, then bushes (mortilla or diddledee) and finally trees.
Lichens and Moss
Bush then tree
We saw apple-looking fruit on low ground bushes called the chaura bush.

 There is only about 20 cm of rain a year (6.5 inches) so plants grow very slowly.  There are three main types of trees, coyeh, niveh, and lenga.  The latter are about 7 feet tall.

Animals here include birds, one or two foxes and the invasive beavers.  They may have been abandoned as pets because they walk in front of tourists.

We also saw a plant with light green leaves with small red fruit.  it is called Devil's Strawberry and it is used as a medicine.

On the trees we saw a parasite called "Old Man's Beard.:  It eventually kills the trees.  Natives used it to start fires.  We also saw false mistletoe (Chinese lantern) which grows on trees but does not damage them.

The land went from flat to forest and hilly.

The Australis company has the sole right from the Chilean government to take cruises with tourists here.  The company also maintains trails at the places where we walk.

Just a month before, this area had been covered with snow and then marshy so it was impossible to walk here. .   Now toward the end of October, it is totally different.  We reached a wall of rock, with peat moss growing on it and water dripping down.

We saw a condor on top of a hill.

 We also saw some small waterfalls.

Canelo or Winter's Bark was discovered by John Winter.  The leaves look like a rhododendron.  Tea could be made from the leaves and the bark.  It gave the drinkers vitamin C so it prevented scurvy.

Then we saw the damage done by beavers.  25 pairs were brought from Canada by the Argentinian government in the 1940s.  The government felt that the pelts would bring an economic boon to the area.  Unfortunately, the beavers here had no predators, so they multiplied fast and also destroyed trees (to eat and to make dams) and dammed stream, flooding areas.  They were very hard to catch, and also their pelts were not of a high quality. In Canada, the beaver have predators, and when the beaver see them, they excrete a certain hormone that also makes their pelts softer.  Since the beaver have no predator here, their pelts are not as soft.   They have destroyed over 5,000 acres of forests, creating swamps or making the land barren.  The female beaver has 3 pups yearly and lives 18-20 years.  Now there are hundreds of thousands of them, and they have become a plague on the region.  They had been accustomed to fresh water in Canada, but after a while, they adapted to the salt water and have swum to different areas including the mainland of South America.  Both Chile and Argentina encourage hunting of the animals and give a bounty of $5 per beaver tail turned in.

Evidence of beavers cutting down trees
Swampy lake created by beaver dams--lots of trees have died
I think the birds in the photo are Churrete ("unclos").  
 The little red plants on the ground,ncalled the "siempre vive" or "always living" vine, take the salt out of the water.  The tide covers them but they survive.  The high tide is 4-5 meters above the morning low tide.
Just before we got back on the Zodiacs, we were given hot chocolate with red label whiskey.  I just took the hot chocolate and it was too sweet, so I asked for a spritz of whiskey....my first in ages.  :)  It really hit the spot.

After a wonderful buffet lunch, we headed out at 3:30 to see birds in the Tucker Islets.  It had been 46 degrees F (8 degrees C) when we ventured out in the morning, so we bundled up warmly.  I was wearing a buff over my face, not a mask.
We first saw caranca geese.

Next we saw Rock Cormorans.  They build their nests in the rocks for protection  from predators and from the wind, and they have red eyes and a red beak.

Otherwise they are similar to but smaller than the King Cormorans that we also saw.  They use algae, moss, and grass to make their nests. The guano on the rocks is the from their predators who try unsuccessfully to land.
 As we got close to the beach of an islet, we saw our first penguins.  A small colony of Magellan penguins lives there.  They are one of the smallest penguins and are just about 20" high, 60 cm. tall.
I learned that many penguins do not live in snow.  These come here to nest from October to December and then they fly north for warmer weather.  In winter they may go as far north as Santiago or Buenos Aires.    They weigh about 4 kilos each (10 lb)  

I am fascinated by penguins so was delighted to see these.
They can swim long distances.  Before entering the water each time, they activate their uropygial gland on their tales and they spread the oil all over themselves to become waterproof.  You can see one penguin starting the process below and another below spreading out the oils.

Here is a link on wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uropygial_gland

The  bird below is a patient one.  It stays around the penguin area and works with another in pairs.  One diverts the penguin while the other tries to steal the penguin eggs.  I think it is called an escuaia.
I did wish we could see several other variety of penguins and stay longer observing them.

The nests are near the beach  or in burrows in semi-protected areas but easy for these birds to reach.
Penguin eggs take 40 days to hatch and then  leave the burrows when they are 40 days to two months old.  Sea lions also eat them.

On another islet we saw a huge number of King Cormorans.
 They were building nests and often stealing material from one next to bring to their own.  It was fascinating to watch.

Note the blue eyes of these cormorans

 The trees bend from the strength of the wind.
Heading back to our ship.

Some of us got a bit splashed in the Zodiacs on our way back.  Having good rain gear was helpful.

We had time to warm up before going to a presentation on Glaciology in Patagonia in the Sky Lounge and an introduction on what we would do the next day.  Here are some key slides:

 The sit down dinner was at was at 8.  I was pretty tired but  at 9:45 went to a bit of the National Geographic documentary film of animals in Patagonia, "Eden, at the End of the World" in the 3rd floor lounge.  You can see a trailer of it at:


Some joined a karaoke group at 10.  I went to bed before the end of the movie because I actually  nodded off briefly during the movie.  I guess it was all that wonderful fresh Antarctic air!

Wed., October 27:
In the morning we saw a presentation on "Discovering Tierra del Fuego." 
We heard about the first encounters with Europeans and Indians of Tierra del Fuego.

The first people seemed very tall to the Europeans.
 Not a lot of ships came to the area until the mid 1800s.  Here are some of the earlier travelers.
 The area to the south was marked "Terra Australis Incognita" as they did not know what was to the south.
 After Magellan, Drake was the next one to travel south around South America in the Pelican/Golden Hind in 1577-1578.  He stole gold from the Spanish.  He went further south than anyone before him in a ship.
 Willem Schouten and Jacques Le Maire were next.  Schouten was the first to sail the Cape Horn route to the Pacific Ocean.  You can read about Schouten at:


 From 1772--75, Cook traveled south and became one of the first to cross the Antarctic Circle in 1773.  He "baptized" the entrance to the Beagle channel.  (Fitzroy later went through the whole channel from the Atlantic to the Pacific.)


 Captain Robert Fitzroy (who was just 26) lead the HMS Beagle in 1831 with Charles Darwin (also in his 20s) for a 5 year trip around South America.  On an earlier trip in 1830, Fitz Roy began to map the channels in the Tierra dels Fuego and the Cape Horne area, a virtually unknown area at that time. During the expedition, they "discovered" the Beagle and Murray Channels.  At the end of the trip. Fitz Roy took 3 Alakalufs and a Yaghan to England.  Darwin got sea sick but he was a good hunter so he was not kicked off the ship!  At one point, a boat broke away from the shore and Darwin dove into the frigid waters and saved the boat and their lives.  He could have died if he had been in the water more than 5 minutes.  Fitzroy was so grateful that he named the Darwin Mt. Range as a thank you to Darwin.

On the trip from 1831-36, Fitz Roy circumnavigated the world and stayed several months in the Tierra del Fuego channels to improve and complete the charts he made on the earlier voyage. Fitz Roy took back the 3 Fuegians.   Due to the accuracy of the Fitz Roy's charts, the routes of the Strait of Magellan and Cape Horn became safer for sailors.  A lot of information on fauna, flora and the local inhabitants was recorded.
We also heard about the Indians that had populated the area.  There are two migration theories.  One is that people came from Africa/Asia through the Bering Strait, then to North America and then South America and finally Patagonia. The other theory is that they came through Oceania.    Most of the people that came to Tierra del Fuego were hunter-gatherers.
The Yagan were naked most of the time.  They put layers of animal fat on their skin.  It made their bodies warm and their skin water proof. The first job of a child was to keep the fire in the middle of the canoe going.  The people used special stones to make fire.  Children did not get their name until age 2 when they had a better chance of surviving. The Yagan adapted biologically and had more layers of fat below their skin.  The women had a distinctive basket weaving.
The Manekenk were an offshoot of the Selk'nam and wore the same hats.  They were the first to disappear.
 The Tehuelche used guanaco fur and wore a head bandana.  They lived on the Patagonian Steppe.
 The Kaweskar were canoeing hunters.  A few descendants are in Puerto Eden.
The Selk'nam were good-looking, nomadic hunters that wore guanaco fur and skins for clothing including for hats, who arrived in Tierra del Fuego about 10,000 years ago .  They painted faces to show emotions and also painted their bodies as in the photo below..  They used bows and arrows for hunting..    There was a special ceremony where boys "fight" spirits....actually men dressed up as spirits.

It was horrific to see the chart and the extinction of the Indians.
The Europeans brought horses and dogs with them.  They hunted guanaco, and the population decreased from 40,000,000 at one time to about 1,000,000 guanaco now.

In 1890s there was a gold rush in Patagonia.  Many Europeans killed Indians as when the guanaco became less available, the Indians hunted the sheep.    Other Indians died from diseases brought by the Europeans.

A bit later,  a number of people in our group joined the captain in the bridge.

Then most of us went to a lecture by a Harvard geology professor traveling with the Harvard alumni group on glaciers and geology in the area.    The most fascinating thing he explained was an idea first postulated by Aristotle in 300 BCE.  

North Pole... water/ice surrounded by land masses
Continent surrounded by water/oceans

After lunch, our main activity was walking to Pia Glacier, which lies in a fjord along the Chilean Patagonian coast on the NW arm of the Beagle Channel.  It is in a secluded spot--is huge and beautiful!  The face of the glacier is 300 meters high (about 1000 feet) and 1.4 km wide (8/10 mile).  It was 50 degrees when we got on the Zodiacs but the temperature dropped as we walked and we were happy to be well bundled up.  We were in the first group out and the rain started soon after we started walking on the rocks.

Slick rocks we walked on: 

 Here we were walking up to the glacier.  The rope was good support.
We walked to two view points.  As we were walking, the rain changed to hail, freezing rain, and snow but my hiking boots were great and I didn't slip at all!  My green Frogg Toggs from Amazon kept me dry too!      The only parts of me that got wet were my hands as my gloves were not water proof/resistant.
Again, we got very close to a glacier!  It was amazing.

Alberto de Agostini  named the glaciers including Pia.  The Fjord was also named Pia.  There were 3 or 4 more glaciers on our left.  We were walking on a lateral moraine.  The glaciers on the south side of the Darwin mountain range are holding their own while those on the north side are receding. 

We did see two types of lichen: Old Man's Beard and English Soldier.

At the end of the hike, I was delighted to see a crew member serving hot chocolate with red label whiskey before we boarded the Zodiac and headed back to the ship.

After warming up at 6:00 we headed back to the Sky Lounge to get good window seats to see the glaciers in "glacier alley." 
As we passed each glacier, we were given an alcoholic drink and an appetizer that correlated to the country for which the glacier was named.

That night was the "Captain's Dinner" and the captain shook our hands as we entered the dining room.

Then at 9:45 a documentary was shown called Survival Island, about the animals on Georgia Island. 
I think this is the film:

The ship rocked all night.  I woke up 3 or 4 times.  It was rocky this morning too.  We headed out early this morning at 7:30  to go to la Isla de Hornos--Cape Horn Island.  

Where we were heading
 The sky looked stormy but it cleared while we were on the island.

Cape Horn National Park declared 1945, 63,093 hectares,
In 2005, it was declared a biosphere site
Zodiacs coming into the bay from our ship.  One more had arrived earlier.
Climbing up 162 steps  from the Zodiac landing
It took a few tries for our Zodiac to land in the right place so that we wouldn't splash into the water.
Well-designed path to the memorial
Bush common on the hill up and along the way.  About to flower?
Almost at the memorial
 This sign on the way to the memorial is in honor/memory of Fitzroy who traveled through these waters in 1830 and landed on this island on April 10, 1830, climbing to the peak point the next day.  The sign was erected on the bicentennial of his birth, in 2005.
 The monument at Cape Horn is in memory of the seamen of many nations who lost their lives fighting the elements in the southern Chilean sea and inaugurated Dec. 5, 1992.
 Below a poem by Sara Vial about Cape Horn and the sailors who lost their lives in these waters.

My standing next to the memorial
The memorial damaged after a huge storm a few years ago

Lighthouse and home of officer and his family who stay for a year
Memorial viewed from light house area
Chapel next to lighthouse
Some of the flags brought by visitors
 The officer signing certificates for some of our group.  He had been stationed on the island for almost a year and was to leave in 30 days or less.  His wife and two sons (age 16 and 4) could not wait to leave!!  It was quite lonely there and cold!  From mid-April to September, the officer and his family have no visitors as the winter is too harsh for ships to approach.
Below is a certificate that could be purchased.  Later we all found a similar one signed by the ship's captain saying that we had been to Cape Horn!

We had an amazing lunch with many vegetarian choices and even sushi, I think.

Another video we saw on the ship Thursday afternoon was "Shackleton's Antarctic  Adventure," an IMAX movie made in 2001 depicting Shackleton's endurance adventure near the South Pole in about 1915 and his rescuing 28 men to safety after his ship had been crushed on ice.  I had not heard the story and was astounded by the story.   You can see parts of it on YouTube.    Here is a link:


After the movie, we  departed by Zodiac for a hike in Wulaila Bay. Then we went to an information center that tells more about the cultural and archaeological heritage of the area.   Before landing we saw quite a few seals on the rocky shore, some sunbathing/resting and others watching us.

Dolphins swimming near our ship

 Indian Bread is a growth on the side of the tree that actually protects the tree but is also used as food by local people.
 The trees above possibly were killed by beavers. We walked over a ranging stream, possibly enlarged by beaver damming.

Nice View

Beavers at work--there used to be a small stream here and they dammed it up, creating the lake

Killing trees which become part of the lake

Then we went into the cultural/history center that Australis built for travelers.
There was a section on Fitz Roy and his voyages.

There was also a section on the Indians who lived in the area and a special section on the three Indians that were taken to England and others later taken and put on "show" like a zoo.  It was sad to see that was how they were treated.

During the first trip ofFitz Roy to Tierra del Fuego, a group of Alacalufe Indians stole the British life boat. Seeking to recover it, the captain took 3 hostages whom he later named Fuegia Basket (age 9), York Minster (29) and Boat Memory (20--who died of smallpox soon after arriving in England).  Then near Wulaia, Fitz Roy welcomed a 14 year old boy aboard the Beagle and left his parents a button pearl as "payment."  That was Jemmy Button.  Fitz Roy decided to take the 4 to England, "trusting that the ultimate benefits arising from their acquaintance with our habits and language would make up for the temporary separation from their own country."    That was not Fitz Roy's original intent, but after finding that they "were happy and in good health, I began to think of various advantages which might result to them...and to us, by taking them to England, educating them there...and bringing them back to Tierra del Fuego."  Thus the four arrived in England in October, 1829.  Fitz Roy left the other three under the care of a pastor, and they went to the local primary school for 11 months.  They were celebrities in England and were introduced to the king and queen.  They returned to Tierra del Fuego in 1833.

 Darwin wrote, "Jemmy was short, thick, and fatty, but vain of his personal appearance.  He used always to wear gloves.  His hair was neatly cut , and he was distressed of his well-polished shoes were dirtied.  He was a universal favourite, but likewise passionate; the expression of his face at once showed his nice disposition.  He was merry and often laughed, and was remarkably sympathetic with any one in pain."   His Indian name was Orundellico , and he was Yaguan.  You can read more about him on Wikipedia.
Fuegia Basket
Jemmy in native dress and "English" dress
A canoe
Below is a mail barrow.  There were two post cards for Seattle, so I took them out and when we got home Nava and I added postage and sent them out.  We didn't hear back tho!  One was written by the person to her/himself. The other was written by grandparents to grandchildren.  It was a cute idea.
After returning to the ship and having dinner, we had a farewell toast and a raffle of the ship's flag and navigation charts used on the trip.  A number of groups had participated in a trivia quiz based on information we gathered when we went ashore or listened to talks.  We did very well but did not win.  The staffer below was wonderful and very helpful. She had a very professional and delightful personality.  The hard working staff members are with the ship for 8 months with just two weeks vacation.  

Night view of Ushuaia from the channel
The next morning, we saw the port of Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city on earth.

Ushuaia is located at 54+ degrees south  on an island band is called the farthest south city on earth.  It has a population of approximately 60,000  to 70,000 people, half of which were not born in town.     The Selknam Indians arrived in Tierra del Fuego 10,000 years ago and a southern group of the Selknam, the Yaghan, lived in what is now Ushuaia.  

In 1873, the first Argentinians arrived in Ushuaia to teach school.    At the same time a prison for re-offenders was suggested in the area, but it was not officially started until after the border was established between Chile and Argentina in 1881.    In the same decade, gold hunters came to the area after hearing a rumor (which later proved to be false) of gold in the area.  In 1896, the first prisoners came to the  prison, re-offenders and political prisoners. It was in service until 1947 and later became the area museum.    In 1947, 1,000 people lived in the town.    By 1980, there were 5,000 people   and oil and gas were discovered on the island.  By 1990, 20,000 lived in town..  By 2000, 45,000 lived in the town.  

Definitely a windy day!
Now 20% of local people work in tourism, 40% in public administration and services.  Some are fisherman; others work in saw mills.  There is good public education here including a Waldorf and Montessori program and a public university.  

The city has a sub-polar oceanic climate with a winter high average temperature of 34 degrees F in July and an average high of 50 in January (summer).  It is often quite windy.  On a "normal" day, one can encounter wind, rain, sun and clouds.  On the shortest day of the year, there is only 7 hours of daylight, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  It rains at least 200 days a year and snows 5 months a year.

There are also problems with beaver dams in this area.

Our guide, Inez, was born in Buenos Aires but came to Ushuaia 12 years ago.  She said that the town has grown a lot in the past ten to 20 years.  Our driver was from Uruguay and came here 13 years ago.  Ushuaia is a tax free port so there is no 21% VAT as there is in the rest of Argentina.  An industrial area was started in the 1970s and helped jump start the population.  Now there are 6 flights per day into town and ten a day in summer.  

The town is a very safe place and relatively quiet place.  .  It is quite isolated with one road to enter and leave town with a check point near the entrance so it would be hard for criminals to flee town.

Ushuaia is 3,000 kilometers from Buenos Aires but some of the roads are not paved.  One also has to take a ferry to cross the Magellan Strait (if it isn't too windy) and mountains have to be crossed..  It can take 3-4 days to drive between the two cities.

One of our first stops was at the edge of town where there were more shrines to popular saints including Gauchito Gil:

and La Difunta Llorona who died from lack of water but continued to nurse her baby:

and shrines of other "saints"
We then met with Miguel, a resident of Ushuaia, who fought in the Malvinas/Falkland War, a six-week conflict in April-June of 1982.  It was quite emotional to listen to him.  Lu translated.

Miguel was an artillery expert from Cordoba, an area north of Buenos Aires.  He had volunteered to serve.  He and his squad flew to the Malvinas on April 21 by Aereolineas Argentinas in military flights without seats, sitting on the floor. They headed to their assigned positions on April 30, but they arrived late and didn't make it to the position.  At 4 a.m. they were attacked but had no shelter,  
Picture of his squad
His unit was attacked daily.  By the 5th day, they finally made it to their assigned position.  They did not use artillery as their arms were too old to shoot to the island where the British were located.    For 20 days they held the British.  His job was to fix cables.  He was full of fear but had to do his job.  He also was not used to the cold weather and lack of food.  During the 6 weeks, he went from 62 kilos (137 lb) to 46 kilos (101 lb).  At first they were fed twice a day and then with the lack of food, just once a day, and finally just half a ration once a day.  He always felt cold.  The last two days, he had no sleep and no food.   A retreat order was given but his unit did not receive it.  The cannons sunk in the peat moss, so they had no weapons.  They finally ran for their lives as they knew that the British were not taking prisoners but killing the enemy.    

They finally made it to shelter by a cemetery and turned in their weapons to British who took them to a trench.  They thought that the British would kill them, so they were desperate and crying.  Trucks arrived with Argentinean dead,and they had to take the corpses from the truck and put them in the trench for burial.  Until this day, this was his worst memory from the war.  After burying more than 100,  his companion could not continue, so a British soldier hit him on the head and left him for dead.    
After two days, they prisoners were kept in a location for two days without food or water.  Finally they were loaded on a boat and taken to Puerto Madrin.  
In uniform with medals
Miguel  and many of the soldiers had PTSD , but were treated badly by their country as Argentina had lost the war.  The one good thing from the war is that Argentina regained its democracy.  The military leaders were very unpopular  but declared elections (which they thought they could win) and then lost.  The soldiers were transported in a closed truck back north as the army did not want people to see their poor physical condition.  They were finally released from military service.  He was 19.

He finally made it home and saw his mother but could not adjust. After 6 months, he could not find work so he backpacked to Ushuaia and has been there ever since for 33 years.  Here society see the veterans differently, and it is a better place for them to live.  His girl friend (now his wife) came with him and helped him recover.  Many war veterans also came here, and 70 to 80% of their marriages failed.  His children are the motivation for his life. 
His three children
He thanked us for listening to him--for being his therapists.  

He said that there are still quite a few bodies unidentified and the International Red Cross has asked to go to the Malvinas to help families to have closure.  They are still in negotiations.

Argentinians are not welcome in the Malvinas.  The Argentinian government continues to try to work with British on the land which logically, geographically should be Argentinian but the British say they "don not negotiate lands under our sovereignty." 

Above:  One of many photos mounted on stands at the memorial.

After that, we went up the hill a bit to the home of a former guide with OAT in Ushuaia.  The couple have built their home step by step and put in it things they gathered from their many trips.  They have 3 children, I think, one of whom was delighted to get colorful socks from Nava and immediately put them on.

Corrugated metal used for roofs and siding--very practical

Entrance to home

View from front porch of home
Daughter's room
Door stop!

Our hostess above:  she made a wonderful lentil soupy stew--one vegetarian and one with pork

stuffed spinach rolls

They lived on a dirt road a bit up the hill from town.  There is a lack of housing so the couple have been earning a living making small homes and renting them out.  They were very nice and made a very tasty lunch for us!
Later some of us went on a tour of the Maritime Museum of Ushuaia, housed in the former prison.

The museum is divided into five parts, but the art section was closed.  Our tour focused on the prison.

The white post office in town was built by prisoners but the murals depicting them are much newer!

Originally teens and women were also brought to the prison but the conditions were too harsh so just men were brought. They were men with life sentences (the most dangerous), 2nd offenders and military prisoners.  The prisoners built the 5 wings of the prison.  Each wing had 76 cells for a total of 380.  One person was in each cell but some had bunk beds so there were at times 400-500 prisoners. Boats arrived every 4 to 6 months so they had to be self sufficient.  Prisoners worked in construction, carpentry, the kitchen, the bakery and manufacturing.  

Hall way of cells with wood heater in middle

A typical cell
We heard stories of a number of prisoners including Simon Radivitsky, a Jewish Russian anarchist. He killed a police chief.  He was very popular among the other convicts.  He escaped in 1918 but was eventually caught by the Chilean navy as he tried to leave the island.  In 1930 he was paroled and exiled.

Description of cellmate in Spanish and English
There were stoves in the hall for heat but many of the cells, especially those not near the stoves, were quite cold.  The men had a variety of illnesses--breathing and stomach problems for example.  

The convicts built a train from the jail to the cemetery.  At one point there was a really cruel prison director and the local citizens got him fired.  The new director allowed sports and made the atmosphere less problematic.  

Santo Godino (the "dwarf with big ears") at age 16 from 1911 to 1912 killed a number of children from age 3 up.  He started killed when he was age 8 or 10.  He was also an arsonist and mentally ill.  He died in prison in 1944 at age 48.  The prisoners had a favorite cat, and its bones were found in a stove.  The other prisoners were so upset that they beat Godino to death.  

Under Peron there was national prison reform and the remaining prisoners were sent to the capital.  Meanwhile the prison was given to the navy to use.  Our guide's grandfather came to Ushuaia with the navy.  More people slowly began to come.  They had not before as the prison was a black mark and discouraged people from coming.

Several of us walked through other parts of the museum.  I enjoyed seeing the model ships 


And also the penguin exhibit:

 The Magallanic penguin in the lower right above is the one that is common to this area.


We walked around town and did some shopping before heading to dinner and then back to our hotel.

The main street and tourist shopping area

Most of us ate a a popular fish restaurant.  Nava and  I had fish (hake), a tasty but oily fish.

 The two we sat with shared  king crab.  First they picked a live one out of the tank.  The waiter held it and then Cathy also did.

 They were given scissors to crack the shell.  We were told it was delicious!  Not for me though!  It also is hard for me to see an animal alive one minute and then eat it the next!

The next morning it was 37 degrees and snowing as we left Ushuaia.  

We flew to Buenos Aires (which I wrote about in a previous blog) and 2 days later we flew home, the end of a magnificent and very memorable vacation!