This is not a part of “The Art of Traveliness” book.
Actually, I don’t even know if it’s supposed to be part of something. Who knows.
It is just something I wrote while writing TAoT.
My first visit to Ushuaia and Argentina, to an extend, came to happen in August 2009. It was my first vacation in many years, so I didn’t want to spoil it by staying all my thirty days available in my home, doing nothing. I had bought an travel guide about Argentina one month before my vacation started to learn more about that one of a kind country. I had bought it more out of curiosity than to actually plan a trip. Sometimes it’s good to learn new things and learn rightly about something, or in this case, somewhere, that only borders on the superficial. I try to avoid guides because more often they are aimed towards an specific audience – the commom tourist. It goes without saying such books only tell the reader what he/she expects to read about the subject. I’m pretty sure normal guide books do not describe a place in all its aspects, good or bad.
Even hesitant and reading good reviews about the guide, I made the best purchase possible. Taking all in consideration, I believe the best compliment and success a book may have is to make its reader to fall in love on the subject he/she is reading. And I was falling in love for Argentina.
I was devouring the guide, reading everything about the country, how it is divided in provinces, what each province offered, and above all, where snow could be found. Lots of it, preferably. And snow I would find.
Bariloche was in my thoughts after reading about it but one thing stopped me of going there. Tourists. Not only a well known tourist destination, but rather well known here in Brazil as well; meaning that during vacation period between June to August, thousands of Brazilians make Bariloche their destination; on the other hand, Argentineans take hold of our south and southern beaches. A fair trade, might I say, but I wanted to avoid the tourists and go somewhere less known, less crowded.
Well, having read about Patagona (Argentinean and Chilean, divided only by a mountain), how it was barren and land of the south most city in the world caught my attention. Located in the south tip of the American continent, separated of the main land by the Magellan Strait, Ushuaia seemed a natural choice. My vacation was to begin August first and mid way July I had definitely decided to go to the city of Ushuaia.
To make matters worse, or best, I begun to search pictures of the city and visiting its oficial website – all three or four or five of them that stake that claim. I was looking at things I wanted to experience first hand; things I do not have available, so to say, for my own enjoyment in my home country. Winter in Brazil is sad and ill-favoured: we do not have snow, we do not have mountains. Two basic elements that are worth waiting winter for, but not in Brazil. What one has here during winter is rain, rain, wind, rain and wind. Lots of cold too, but not cold enough to make snow. That’s the only serious problem in Brazil: lack of snow. All kidding aside, Ushuaia had all the resources I was eager for.
Destination decided, I learned it was not necessary to carry a passport to enter Argentina, being that one less worry; I was free to think about other stuff. Other stuff being the weather. I had to learn how the weather was during winter and prepare myself as best as possible.
Ushuaia being the city at the end of the world, I knew it was very close to Antartica, so I was expecting cold. Lots of cold. With that in mind I headed to my city’s biggest shopping mall intending to buy winter clothes. I went to the big stores, sports stores, whatever stores that I could think would sell what I was looking for. What I found instead was shortage of these specific clothing. Each and every store I went had only old supplies that you could tell no one wanted or display items that spent so much time as showcase pieces that begun to smell of mold. I left the mall with only the following: I was going to risk the travel going only with the clothes I already had. Not so much a risk, matter of fact, since nothing could stop me in buying them clothes once I arrived at my destination.
Back home, I searched my wardrobe, making mental notes on what I would have to take with me: I had two jackets, one heavy and a lighter one, besides a few sweatshirts to use as first skin on top a basic plain shirt. I didn’t had gloves or headpieces. But I had a pair of boots which were marketed as being used by the military, so I thought I was in good hands. Or feet. Gloves and headpieces and heavier jackets were to be bought out, if really needed, at my destination. Shortage aside, prices were cheaper in Argentina. Its currency, the peso argentina, was undervalued compared with Brazil’s, the real. I would not take much paper money with me, relying a lot on my credit card. But the money I would take would be valued and useful, enough to last my then eleven days stay.
All these things in account, I still had not bought my plane tickets.
Probably the only thing I made during my first week of vacation was spending hours looking for the best ticket prices. Luckily, it did not take too long to find it. Using my credit card, I found the best price and would pay it in several payments; a way of relieving my long term budget.
Tickets bought, I was one week away from departure day. Four tickets they were, two to go and two to come back. One from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires, and there I would have to change airports and six hours later would have to take a flight to Ushuaia. Same thing to come back: one plane from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires, change airports, new flight to Sao Paulo. Piece of cake.