Monday, November 28, 2005

The Finis Terrae Family

My family here in Ushuaia, La Ciudad Del Fin Del Mundo.

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Marie, who cooks delicious bread for breakfast, changes the towels almost before you are out of the shower and changes the bed either while you are in the shower or eating too much bread at breakfast! Amanda, the beautiful hostess of Finis Terrae, the Bed & Breakfast, principal of Finis Terrae the spanish school , my teacher and friend, fluent in Italian and French and believe it or not a grandmother! Ana, my other Spanish teacher and friend, who cracks the whip in class and speaks far more English than she will admit to in class and finally Exequiel, the VERY hard working host of Finis Terrae who never stops. I have finally learned to pronounce his name, but when he throws 3 sentences at me in rapid Spanish, with some English in there as well - I stand there with my mouth open and he just shakes his head. Exequiel is fanatical about customer service and as hosts he and Amanda are wonderful, I have always felt at home in their home and with all the people coming and going I don't know how they keep going, but they do and always with a smile.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

An Antarctic Adventure

This one isn´t mine, thankfully, but does give one food for thought. A fellow Ozzie, also studying Spanish at the school just returned from a yacht trip to Antartic - and yes yacht is correct. A group of 12 including guides and crew headed south to do some climbing . First stop, first beach landing and a great chunk of iceburg decides to part company and hit the water. This created a wave which when funneled into the beach created a mini tsunami about 3 metres high, and yep you guessed it, they were washed out to sea. Most close enough to be quickly pulled out, one with a badly broken leg, but Mark was actually washed right out, wearing full climbing gear and was in the water for almost 10 minutes. Managed to grab a floating backpack and one of the others swam out with a rope - lucky guy. A touch of hypothermia and fingers still attempting to come back to full life, but other than the loss of all the gear, amazingly well and rather casual about the whole adventure.

Finally Found a Use For ........???

I finally found a use for the ever present Bidet. So far there has been one in just abou every bathroom I have visited since I have been here in Argentina, and as a not very well educated Aussie (in bidet terms anyway) I have never really been game to use one for the purpose it is intended. I do know the general idea, but - well I am sure you understand. And I haven´t found anyone else who admits to using/trying one either. Can´t put the toilet paper in the loo, but there is almost always a bidet.
Anyway enough of that - had some hand washing to do, and there just isn´t a sink big enough in the B&B - so what else would you use? Found a plug to the small handbasin - very small, in fact only large enough for very small smalls or small hands; discovered it fitted the bidet and there you go - handwashing done in next to no time. I did have to kneel on the floor, but other than that slight discomfort all worked very well. Warm water flowed, had to adjust the taps so the fountain didn´t work and all was washed and rinsed with ease. The washing is now hanging around the room hopefully drying to squash into the case to head further south next week.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Image hosted by Photobucket.comI just loved this, it is the kindergarten at the end of my street and the name Narices Frias translates as cold noses - just perfect for the city at the end of the world.


Image hosted by Photobucket.comMy home here in Ushuaia, Finis Terrae, Spanish School and B&B, an absoultely delightful place just minutes from the centre of Ushuaia. Have at look at It is operated by a wonderful couple, Exequiel ( I still have trouble with the pronunciation) and Amanda and nothing is too much trouble for them, they are perfect hosts. Amanda is my Spanish teacher,( one of them, I actually have two,) and runs the school here. You can check it out at Amanda and Anna are pushing me hard in my Spanish - just what I need and I find my comprehension and conversation improve by the day, but I must admit there are times when I wonder why I am doing this. My class is from 4.00 to 8.00 in the afternoons and yesterday included a visit to a museum and coffee in the centre.

Ushuaia is a beautiful city and has more than doubled it´s size and population in the last 10 years. There is a concerted effort to attract tourists and the city gears itself more all the time for the tourist trade. The houses are beautiful and there is construction everywhere with new houses pushing the city out all the time. Although there are many poorer suburbs and certainly smaller houses, I am told that there usually is plenty of money and that it is the way that the owners choose to live. But more on that later.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ushuaia la Cuidad Del Fin Del Mundo

Ushuaia, the city at the end of the world and what a wonderful place it is! I have only been here a few days but I have fallen in love with it and the weather has been absolutely magnificent - they tell this is not usual for Ushuaia The air is brisk and the nights are somewhat chilly, but the days have been filled with glorious sunshine, so I spend my time putting on and taking off the fleece as all the shops and buildings are well heated. I am just hoping the weather remains like this for the crossings to and from the Antartic.
The city is not large, particularly compared to many in South America, but is charming, colourful and so very friendly. It is certainly geared up for the tourists and although there are many it is not as overwhelmingly touristy as Iguazu was.
The city is situated along the shores of the Beagle Channel and surrounded by snow capped mountains with glaciers glistening in the sunshine and with the exception of the day I arrived - it was blowing a gale- the water has been so calm that the mountains and houses are reflected in the waters.
Many of the buildings are very old and have been preserved beautifully often very colourfully and generally the city is very clean. This week there have been workers everwhere planting out the spring flowers so it becomes more colourful by the day.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Wet T-shirt look

Image hosted by Catherine and I , just a little damp around the edges and through to the now tan tinted underwear, but what a buzz it was.

Friday, November 11, 2005

An Adrenalin Rush in Iguazu

What a delight it was to have a friend to share my time in Iguazu, and what fun we had on our visit to the famous falls. Recent rains unfortunately have closed several of the spectacular sites - the famous Devil´s Throat, as the bridge and pathway had washed away and the river is too high for the ferry to cross over to La Isla de San Martin, but it does give one a good reason to return one day, and it meant there was an enormous amount of water flowing over the falls. Catherine and I still managed to fill the day and have an incredible adrenalin rush at the same time.
We travelled out to the National Park on the first bus, as the town is full of tourists and everything very busy and I am not into crowçds. As so much was closed, we decided to do the river adventure and didn´t regret it for one moment, what a buzz!. The trip begins with a guided drive through the rainforest in the open back of a large 4 wheel drive truck, a journey of about 1/2 hour, then it´s onto the boats and the fast flowing, and very full river. One suspects just how wet one might get when you see the driver and assistant head to toe in very sturdy wet weather gear. The passengers are supplied with a large waterproof bag in which to store cameras and anything they wish to keep dry, then it´s off up river , over the rapids to the falls. After a short stop in relatively calm water for a brief photo session the driver warns all to ¨protect the cameras¨ and then heads straight into the base of the falls. Very spectacular driving took us in and out of the lower area of several of the falls, with lots of sharp turns, just to add more water to the scene. Needless to say a lot of water flows over the occupants of the boats. The water is also very full of topsoil at present after the rains - so right down to the underwear everything turned a rather rusty brown. I felt really at home, it was just like my Central Australian washing. The driver obviously loved his job and took little convincing to take a few more runs into the deluge. Catherine and I were invited to stand in the back beside the driver, so our ride was fantastic. I had a throw away underwater camera, so we have some great shots to go with it.

Thank goodness we had been forwarned and had a change of clothes, so after a quick change on the river bank it was off to view the falls from above. A wonderful, and exhausting day.

Santiago and Beyond

The flight into Santiago was a long one after a sleepless night, and as with the last few times I have flown in, the view was almost non existent with smog and cloud obscuring the city and the mountains, although I have vivid memories of my first ever flight into Santiago, one of the most spectacular things I have seen. We flew in late afternoon just as the sun was setting, so one side of the plane basked in the magnificence of an enormous setting sun. The skies over Santiago were completely clear and the city and surrounding snow capped peaks were sparkling below. Over the peaks of the mountains, an enormous, very full moon had just risen, casting yet another light over the scene. The colours of setting sun reflected on the city and the snow covered mountains and the clear light of the moon sent fingers of night down as the sky darkened. It was so magnificent, that nobody on the aircraft could quite believe what they were seeing. I am sure we all wished to be suspended in that magnificent scene forever. Santiago looked magnificent.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Argentina Here I Come

A little information on the upcoming trip, which begins when I fly out of Melbourne for Sydney and an overnight there, before heading east the next morning to Buenos Aires via Santiago. An overnight in Buenos Aires then onto Iguazu the next day. But more of the itinerary as I travel.I am away for 2 1/2 months and will be studying Spanish in a number of places while I am there. I'll keep you up to date on that also.

At the moment I am in the process of trying to fit it all into the suitcase - I need the warm, warm gear for the Antartic and Ushuaia and the summer gear for Buenos Aires and the north of the country - and as many of you know I have problems with expanding luggage and whoever it is who insists on packing the rocks into my case every time I stop. At present it looks good but by Monday????

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Year Gone

My New Zealand "home away from home"

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After more than a year of house sitting, yes a year, hard to believe, but it was election day last year that I arrived in Sydney to begin and a week ago on Sunday that I arrived back from Sydney. In that year I spent almost 7 1/2 months in Sydney, 2 months in Melbourne and a month in Nelson New Zealand - all house sitting and it seems to be becoming clear that that is the direction my life is taking. Not that I mind I have throughly enjoyed it, with only a few minor inconveniences - Tiger the cat bowled by a car the night before Lynne & Chris arrived home (at 16 he is still going strong), the large tree branch that came down across the backyard, the fence and the neighbouring drive two days before I was due to leave. The fun thing about that one was that it was a block of 7 units and all the cars were parked on the wrong side of the mess and at 7.00am no-one was impressed. And the minor inconvenience of the BMW in Nelson having a computer glitch that took out the central locking and the electric windows, but thank goodness the air con still functioned so we could breathe.

I had lots of visitors during my house sits, Brian,Lothar and Cas in Sydney, Lynne and Chris in Melbourne and my sister Pam in New Zealand and met lots of new friends and found Spanish classes all along the way.

My poor Gypsy wagon has been a little neglected during that time, other than brief journeys to Sydney and Bendigo, where it is now safely tucked up for the next couple of months with Cas. Thoughts are circulating and I am seriously considering letting her move on to her next adventure with a new owner. We have had a great time together, but I think it is time for both to move on. More on that one later.

A New Journey Begins

After the initial flurry of setting up this log and learning how to post and import the photos, I reached my usual state when I sit down to write - What is there to write, and is anyone interested anyway??? But as another adventure begins next Tuesday 8th November, it's time to get it down.