Here at last! Arrived in Tierra del Fuego. After a seemingly never-ending journey..
The southernmost city in the world welcomes Gerhard and me (we met in Buenos Aires and were on the same plane) with a friendly mix of sun and clouds. Fortunately, our luggage is complete and we are greeted at the airport by Piotr, Karen and Jan – a warm welcome and reunion after nine months.
Ushuaia is not really beautiful, but the location is fantastic: the city lies on the Beagle Channel and grows up the adjacent hills, with an impressive mountain range just behind it. Opposite is the view of the Chilean peaks, rugged, jagged, sometimes still with a little snow here and there.
You quickly get used to the grid system of the city, its buildings surprise with a very individual mix. Many of the houses are quite small, made of wood and sheet metal, simple, improvised, very individual. From the window of my accommodation for the first two nights, I have a sensational view of the city, the bay on the Beagle Channel and the harbor. Right down there is the Selma, which will be our home for the next seven weeks in a few days.
The next morning, I wake up to a sunny day. After breakfast together, we decide to hike up Cerro Susana, to the west of the city. Gerhard has rented us a car and is thankfully our driver. A short city tour first takes us to the western foothills of the city. The last few kilometers on dirt roads, the city thins out, with only a few remaining houses here and there. At some point the dirt road ends..
The ascent to Cerro Susana winds up the mountain on a small path, leading through wild jungle, green and lush, full of gnarled trees, often fallen over and covered in lichen. Orchids here and there and strange spherical orange shapes on the trees, a kind of parasite it seems. Later we read that it is a fungus called Indian bread. The higher we get, the sparser the vegetation and the more beautiful the view of the Beagle Channel and the town and the short airport runway on a small peninsula off the coast.
In the evening, a first visit to the Selma at Club Nautico Afasyn on the jetty. The yachts are in the packet, I discover many familiar names that I have come across in the course of my search for a boat and skipper for this expedition – the Icebird, the Podorange, the Sonabia, even the Spirit of Sydney are here. I’m glad it turned out to be the Selma. She’s bright red and appealing, a beautiful boat, no frills, robust, pragmatic, just right for our plans. And although she looks small in the package on the pier, by my previous standards she’s also quite big.
I meet Piotr and the previous Polish crew, who are bustling in and around the boat, and we discuss the next few days and the things that need to be done, organized and discussed.