Ushuaia. A city on the edge of the world

04.11.2021 | Marko Prokhasko

In the last ten to fifteen years, the southernmost city in the world has doubled in size. Further south is still a settlement, but it is not quite a city. Ushuaia is the end of the world. There is a seven-kilometer railway. It is used to connect the prison with the labor camps. It is called the End of the World Train. Many tourists come to Ushuaia. Some of them sail further - on yachts or large cruise liners to Antarctica. Twelve people can sail on a yacht and over a hundred or more on a liner. You can hardly feel the waves on the liner, swim in the pool, watch TV, go to the bar, and so on.
There are no such things at the yacht. Sometimes you even have to take turns preparing to eat, clean, stand on watch. You should lock all the doors with latches and locks - so that nothing falls and knocks and so on.
Due to environmental restrictions, the number of tourist landings is divided between vessels. As well as landing sites and the number of tourists allowed when climbing ashore. If a certain cruise ship booked disembarkation at a certain place, but due to bad weather conditions none of the passengers wanted to take the opportunity, this disembarkation is still considered credited and is not passed on to others. It is easier for yachts. Due to the small number of people on board, anyone can go where they planned. I wrote more about the advantages and disadvantages of sailing on a yacht in the book.

In winter, tourists also come to Ushuaia to ski, because there are high and beautiful mountains.
Yan was born here in Ushuaia. He is 28 and has lived in Buenos Aires for 14 years but returned to his hometown a few years ago. He studied photography but left school because it is very expensive. There are both paid schools and paid universities in Argentina. Paid schools provide better education. Universities, for the most part, too, although the National University of Buenos Aires has a good position on the quality of education.
When Yan left Ushuaia, the city was twice as small as it is today. Now about 80 thousand people live here. The city on Tierra del Fuego was founded to confirm the region's affiliation with Argentina. The first building is a prison of a strict regime. Already after its construction, the town itself began to emerge.

With the increase in the number of tourists, a large airport appeared here. The central streets are filled with many shops and cafes. The city is like an ancient European tourist town, which established a quiet life, gained the fame of a wonderful resort, and gradually erased the authenticity of stores of famous and unknown brands, souvenir shops, and more. However, Ushuaia is not at all like Europe. Due to the climate and the bay, here present a smell similar to the Mediterranean, and the atmosphere of the south. After all, it is the south. It would not be possible to divide what is still similar to Italy, Cyprus, or, for example, Slovenia.
I wanted to classify and put a new piece of the world into my understanding. I was looking for associations and parallels. An important point for comparison is architecture. Some features are very similar to ancient southern European cities. And others are something new. It resonates somewhat with wooden houses in Eastern European small towns. The structure, the organic character of the ubiquitous color signs, the large windows, the low-rise buildings could resemble footage from an American film. The use of artificial materials, which is not at all typical of Europe and is often used in Eastern Europe, seems appropriate here. Although it intuitively seems that no one cares about aesthetics, it is formed by itself. Local. Special.

Finally, roads and transport are other landmarks. The railways in Argentina are bad. A local told me that one of the presidents of Argentina had a brother who owned a bus company. So relatives destroyed the railway to eliminate a competitor and increase profits from bus transportation. However, the buses here are really good, as are the roads. What not always to say about sidewalks. Most likely, this situation is not repeated in every city, especially not in the capital. But in Ushuaia, for example, sidewalks are not quite narrow in the central part, often overgrown with grass, often broken. I think that the explanation is simple: they walk in the center, but not outside the center. The country is too big not to use a car. They are here, of course, near each house, often several. From the "range" - a lot of durable cars including pickups.
To get here from Europe, you probably need to fly to one of the capitals of Latin America and then take a domestic flight to get here. Of course, you can, for example, come by car. It is the spot where the trans-Argentine road that crosses the country from north to south ends.

It is logical to fly here from Buenos Aires. But one of the participants in the trip on the yacht Selma, which I happened to sail to Antarctica, flew from the capital of Chile - Santiago. From Buenos Aires, the flight lasts about 5 hours. Note that, for example, from Warsaw to Paris - 2 hours. From Krakow to Cyprus - 3 hours. And we fly over several European countries. You need to fly much more here, and this is not the largest country in Latin America.
Flights to Buenos Aires are very frequent via Madrid, Rome, Istanbul, Amsterdam, or London. If you have a visa-free passport (Ukrainian), then, of course, it is easier to fly not through London. I was lucky enough to fly through Rome. The transfer to the capital of Italy lasted about 14 hours. During this time, of course, you can not engage yourself in the atmosphere of one of the cradles of European civilization. But you can see some important sights and walk around the city center. It's the same with Buenos Aires: the transfer doesn't have to be on the same day, so theoretically you can take a look around the city.
Just in case, it is worth mentioning a well-known thing: it's summer here. In Argentina, the temperature is similar to that in Rome. Feels like 25 degrees. However, the air in Buenos Aires is completely different than in Europe. Probably because of the proximity of the ocean. Even in hot weather, it was fresh, as if after a downpour. Although the sky was clear and the sun was hot. Ushuaia is considered to be a rather cold region in Argentina. In the sun it is hot even in one T-shirt, but the weather is very erratic. Rain can start and end several times a day, there is high humidity. However, the main factor in the arrival of cold or its absence is the wind. It can instantly break and blow so that you are easily carried off the road to the bay, and then instantly calm down.
The day after this text was written, the yacht left for the Drake Passage and headed for Antarctica. Therefore, the next text will be about the crossing of the Drake Passage and the expected arrival at the Ukrainian Antarctic Vernadsky Research Base.