Sunday, January 6, 2013

Passion that drives

Yesterday we arrived in Ushuaia (pronounced oosh-why-ah), the most southern town in the world, and a departing point for Antarctica. I hadn't looked at pictures before arriving and I'm glad I didn't. What a shock to see that we were right along the water, and within a circle of mountains. I thought it'd be flat, so it feels like home in denver. A pleasant retreat from the heat in BA!

The skies are bright blue, and there's no way to see what clouds are coming over the mountains, so it rains on and off out of nowhere. This is their summer, so the sun rises at 4am and sets at 10:30pm. Little different than the short days back in the states, huh?

Jess and I walked around the town and found some great views before we hopped on our boat tour. The little boat took us to see sea lions and sea birds...sadly we didn't see an island full of penguins, but we did see a couple swimming alongside our boat!

It was definitely a touristy tour til the tour guide took us off the boat and showed us the native plants of Ushuaia and the surrounding islands. He had grown up here and was obviously super passionate about the land and history of it. He told us of the natives who lived here without clothes (keep in mind it's a high of 59•F now in their summer). The people had 39•C body temps, had 7mm thick skin, and rubbed themselves in baby seal fat to keep warm. There were no trees on these islands, so the people hovered besides mounds to shield them from wind.

Then immigrants came, saw that natives were naked and clothed them...and they started coming down with pneumonia and diseases that they were once immune to. There is one native woman who is still alive, but she is in her 80s with no descendants.

Being a tour guide might not seem like the most glorious job, but his passion educated us and made this the best part of our trip so far.

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