Buenos Aires Park (Kenneth Nelson)
This day's trip was to be lead by Augustino, but we find guide Valentine arriving instead to lead us to the Tierra del Fuego National Park for some forest trekking. Valentine is every bit as knowledgeable as our prior guides, and he takes the time to lead us to some beautiful mountain overlooks for pictures of this awesome countryside. He points out many beaver lodges which have caused a loss of about 30% of the trees due to the flooding that occurs behind their dams. 25 couples of beaver were imported years ago with hopes of starting a fur trade. It was unsuccessful, (nobody knew how to turn beaver pelts into hats) but not so the beavers; they now number about 400,000 and have become a problem for the land management (goes to show you shouldn't mess with Mother Nature!). We eat another outdoor lunch grilled by our guides-olives, bread, cheese, chips, sausage, chicken shish-kabobs, and brownies, all washed down with water and more Argentinian wine. Following this we board rubber rafts to travel down the Rio Lapataia (river) to the Bahia Lapataia (bay) for a 45 minute water trip. I (the former Boy Scout) paddle and steer the canoe, and Kathy and Bert help a little. Valentine points out the "steamer" ducks who literally walk on the water like paddle wheel steamers, and do not fly. We also see Comorants, Skuas, and evidence of more beavers. After a full day's adventure we are brought back to Ushuaia with still enough time to tour the old prison building. Here there are many exhibits discussing famous prisoners, including our old tango friend Carlos Gardel, who spent some brief time here behind bars, perhaps practicing his tango steps, in about 1903. We see exhibits on the Yamana Indians who were the original indigenous people of this land, but who are now extinct. The old prison also includes a maritime museum and an art gallery displaying the works of Argentine artists. Of course we also hit the well-stocked gift shop and leave with some nice purchases that will provide us with fond memories of our time in Ushuaia. Pocketbooks now loosened up, we shop for awhile on the main street of Ushuaia, and Bert becomes the owner of a beautiful handmade vest.
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