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Ushuaia

sunny 66 °F
View Patagonia and Antarctica on Baroni's travel map.

This morning we woke up to sunny skies and a warm breeze as we disembarked the Stella Australis after breakfast! It felt great to be on terra firma once again as we found ourselves docked in Ushuaia - the southern most city in the world! We took a walking tour of the city and then the group went for lunch with a local family that Michael and I passed on. Julio encouraged us to come saying that everyone is already exposed to Covid but we didn't think the potential of passing it on to a guest family would be appropriate. We grabbed some lunch and went to our hotel. Covid restrictions are much looser here in both Chile and Argentina but we are doing our best to isolate even though I have no symptoms and Michael is much better today. We mask and sit way in the back of the bus and take our meals at separate tables from the group.

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Ushuaia is really quite a lovely city of about 82,000 people which of course increased dramatically during tourist season since all of the Antarctica cruises start from here. Apparently, it was started as a prison colony but now it is quite international at least during the summer months! One of the most interesting things we learned today was when we visited the Malvina Islands (Falkland Islands to the British). Our guide explained that Argentina has always thought that the Malvinas were theirs but they co-existed with the British after they settled in and talks continued over the years about how to settle things equitably. Then in 1982 towards the end of the dictatorship that I blogged about from Buenos Aires, military government was losing significant support of the people and of course at times like that, finding an outside "enemy" who is "threatening" the country seems like a good idea! So, Argentina sent troops and the "Falkand War" was started. The military assumed that this would muster up a sense of nationalism and the discontent would subside. Besides as they reasoned, the British Prime Minister was a woman and they thought they could take back the islands without bloodshed. As the story goes of course, Margaret Thatcher was having her own political challenges in the early 80's and sending troops to defend the handful of Brits living there was well received and the strategy worked for her and not so well for Argentina.
The only good thing that came out of that event according to our guide, was that the anger with the military government grew so strong that they were able to vote for democracy and they have been a democracy ever since. Interesting visiting Portugal and Spain in the spring of 2023 and Argentina and Chile now to hear about four countries that turned to a fascist dictatorship but were able to regain their freedom after some time! In Usuaia, the closest city to the Malvinas, has a somber memorial to the soldiers who died and have many signs around the city with signs that say, "Malvinas por siempre Argentinas" or "The Malvinas forever Argentina"

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There are so many lessons to be learned! Julio's father chatted with us about his role in the resistance when he lost his job as a teacher/principal and ended up opening a book store. They would have resistance meetings on the top floor and the key words to convey that a meeting was going to be held is for colleagues to call the bookstore and ask if he had a particular book title and if a meeting was planned, he would say, "Oh, it just arrived so please come and pick it up". He was in his mid 20's at the time with a young family and reflected on the risks he took but at the time, he was just so focused on doing what he felt that he had to do, he didn't really appreciate the danger he was putting his wife and children in. At the end of his reflection he said, "All I know is that I would rather be poor but free as a bird than rich and living under a dictatorship" Pretty powerful testimony!

On a lighter note, during our walking tour of Ushuaia, Julio pointed out a sign to us that said "No Peeing" and "No Orinar" to which he invited some of the men in the group to go over to the wall and pretend they were peeing for an amusing "photo op"! I will definitely include a picture!

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As I mentioned on the previous blog, that we can't fly back to Buenos Aires tomorrow as planned because of a nationwide strike so all public facilities will be closed. Not quite sure what the plan is for tomorrow but it will be in Ushuaia with hopes that we can fly back on the 25th. For us it matters little because we will just go to our new hotel where we will meet up with our new group of travelers on the 27th. We'll have a few more days to recoup and be ready for our next adventure.

Posted by Baroni 20:13 Archived in Argentina

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