Wednesday, January 7, 2009

the LONG TRIP home...

As we said before the trip to and from Ushuaia is a doosey! We left the Argentinian side and into Chile...then back on a barge to get off the island and to the mainland....

(if you zoom in you can see the sign warning you of the land mines on the Chilean side...they still have land mines from old wars, etc., between a lot of the borders in South America...so no off-roading it along the border!...just in case you were thinking about it. :) )

After crossing back over into Chile, we had a few more hours on the bus before having to do the border thing all over again...talk about a pain in the patootie....so two borders and four stamps later, we hopped back on the bus and continued on to Barriloche, a beautiful lake town in Northern Patagonia....

...we only had two days there (as we wanted to get to Mendoza for Christmas) so we just did a bit of walking around...had lunch in the park....


(Dave fought hard to get in on that tit!) ;) ....which made me...

...PIUKE! YUCK!! :)


...and then we did a bit of shopping before repacking and hopping on another bus the next morning to get to Mendoza...we arrived early the following morning and spent the day walking around the city...

The streets were lined with large trees and open sewers....a strange set-up

We also passed an interesting doctors office...do you think Mother Teresa really worked there?? ...as if she wasn't busy enough!


And across the street from one of the many parks was a statue dedicated to all of the Jewish people (it was the street of the state of Israel)....so Happy Hanukkah to all my Sammies (even the ones that aren't Jewish), I love you!!

We saw many parks along the way...all different and unique....a great place to stop and rest!

That night we received some news of a family emergency and decided to change our plans...scheduled an earlier flight (still out of Lima, Peru)...had a lot of trouble changing our plans with the hostel (long story short... DON'T stay at Hostel Ruca-Potu as they are BAD people...ask me if you want the long version). Then we left the following morning (Christmas Eve)...to start a long chain of buses....we went from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile...arriving in the late afternoon on Christmas Day and staying the night....

From there we took a bus to the border....enjoying the coast...


...and desert of Chile (from the bus)...

From the border we were had by a company that said they went directly to Lima but then proceeded to take us across the border and then dump us on an uncomfortable, packed, and urine smelling Peruvian bus for half the price of what we had paid them, ha....

This being our third straight day of bus traveling....we were fried and could barely function....and from sitting for almost 60 hours straight my feet (and now spreading up to my knees) had had it!! They were officially rebelling....

DISCLAIMER: For those of you that are faint of heart...skip the following picture. I apologize for the grossness of it ahead of time.

My feet and calves had swelled to triple the size!!! It was crazy uncomfortable! I could barely move my feet at all...I had a bend radius of like 5 degrees!!

NASTY!!!

Finally, we had made it to Lima....where we found ourselves a taxi to our hostel in Miraflores....except she was special and couldn't find it so we just got out and walked....after cleaning up we decided to walk around the town...to try and get my blood to circulate....Get out of my feet, darn it!!!!

We did a bit of shopping....


And then sat on the porch of the hostel steps smoking a Cuban....dazedly wondering where the last week had gone and trying to realize that so suddenly -- this was our last night in South America....after an entire year it was a tough thought to grasp.

¡Chao, chao Sudamerica! Through the good and the bad...it was an adventure to say the least. There were days and moments so breathtaking they will never leave my memories; they made me want to stay forever. And there were events and sights so disgusting or horrible it reminded me of all that is wonderful about home. Not a day will go by that I will regret this year of my life....it was everything awful and amazing wrapped into one indescribable experience.

Forever and Always,

Stephanie and Dave

sea lions, penguins, and Dave....oh my!

After camping we mostly relaxed...waiting for our bus (there are very limited buses so we were in Ushuaia for 10 days)...and we decided to take one of the tourist boat trips out to see the ocean had to offer...so we hopped on a tourist boat...


...see you later, Ushuaia....




Our first stop was a small island where the sea lions like to hang out...



....and boy did they smell BAD!!...the closer we got the worse it was....

...but they were CUTE!!


...and funny!


...itching themselves...


...and the man of the island meandering around....


....kissing...

....and hugging...(yes HUGGING!...just hugging....like a good little sea lion) :)


...and the little ones running around, playing...



....bugging the older ones...




....and of course, just lazing around...



From there we saw their lighthouse...although it gets quite cold there, the straight is open all year round to get supplies....


(I'd say it's the southernmost lighthouse, like everything else in Ushuaia, but if they didn't say it then there must be some in Antarctica)


...it was a good looking lighthouse though.... :)


After the lighthouse we headed a lot further down the straight....


...we found it quite interesting that they are so concerned with their borders that they even divided out the ocean!!!....watch out don't use the Chilean side when your in Argentina...the border patrol may come out and get you!!....what are they siblings sharing a room....will Chile shave off Argentina's eyebrows in the middle of the night if they cross the line....


...behind it is Chile's southernmost city...which, of course, is disputably THE southernmost city....


....and then it was back to the open ocean.....Argentina's open ocean....


To get to the PENGUINS!!!!


Lots and lots of penguins!!


...there were a couple of different kinds (you can tell by the different patterns of black and white)....


...they were so funny....coming up to the boat, curious at what it was....


....playing together and jumping in and out of the water...


....hanging out, chatting with each other...."What's up dude?"...."I don't know, just staring at this big white thing in the water, what do you think it is?"...."I don't know man, maybe a polar bear or something?"... (for example) :)


....and the three stooges....


I could have watched them for hours they were so funny....but we had to start the long ride back to land...but enjoyed the beautiful sky....



...Dave having a bit of fun with a black and white of a woman snoozing across the boat....


....and then there were the funny signs on the boat....


....What's this one mean?? Everyone run together?? Quickly run toward each other?? Who knows??



There was a bit more of the sun starting to set and then it was land ho!



....where Dave proceeded to longingly drool outside of the Parrilla restaurants that we couldn't afford....just wait until we get a little further north Dave....we are almost there....you can almost taste it!

The following morning we got up at about 3 am to catch our 5 am bus....nothing more majestic and peaceful than a city asleep as the darkness begins to fade away...


We walked far too many blocks with all of our stuff....barely making it to the bus stop before gladly dropping our bags and enjoying the rising sun as we finally started our long journey back north....