Some days Ushuaia is the living fifty shades of grey. Grey sky, grey sea, grey buildings, grey cars (really, 19 out of 20 cars are grey). Some days there’s no silver linings, no sun ray, no magic to be found at the end of the world.
Today was not one of those days. I walked outside onto the grassy terrain to take the dog out. The morning sun just peeked over the threatening storm clouds. Indeed it was windy. Patagonian windy. There was some light snow on the mountains. Here in town referred to as yesterday evening’s heavy rains. I put on an extra layer, breathed the fresh air and had a quick breakfast while admiring my daily surroundings.
One of the things that I love about Ushuaia is that anywhere you look you’ll get a view of mountains. Monte Olivia in the east, the highest peak here at 1326 meters, can basically be seen from anywhere. Behind the city rise the foothills of the Andes range, stretching to the higher Darwin range in the west. On the other side of the Beagle Channel are Chile’s mountainous Hoste and Navarino islands. Ushuaia is surrounded by 360 degrees of mountains, shared between Chile and Argentina, and I find myself in between. Quite a unique setting for a girl coming from the lower than lowlands, The Netherlands.
I took a walk along the boulevard to enjoy the sun. The wind was cold. The Beagle Channel looked wildly beautiful, wild like something you’d expect at Cape Horn, some further south: a dark greyish blue, with whitewashed waves covered in sunlight and splashing water because of raging winds. The view put a smile on my face. I was feeling a bit estranged and alone these days, but the wind instantly blew my sadness away.
Walking back, now straight against the wind, you could feel its force. I headed for sun bathed and wind-protected San Martin street, and sat down for a while. The sun was still quite warm late in the afternoon, the sky a clear blue. I just sat there watching the movement of cars and people, locals and tourists, feeling at ease.
Back home I took a hot shower to warm my bones and started writing and looking through pictures to add to the story. At some point it occurred to me that it was quiet outside. I went out. Finally the wind had called it a day. The last signs of daylight in the west – patches of dark purple sky – would soon disappear. Yet I could distinguish the southern cross and many other bright stars on this clear night. Time to tuck myself in, happy and warm under a comfy duvet.
I don’t know what it is with Ushuaia. It’s a place of contrasts. Some days it makes me feel lonely. I know, some people will only see its greyish downsides and remember the cold and the wind. Others can feel the magic like I do. Ushuaia always intrigues me. Its stunning setting, its wild and uncultivated surroundings, this feeling of being really at the end of the world.
Some years ago my friend Eelkje asked me if I could live in Ushuaia. My answer then was a straight ‘no, never, nunca, no way’. I was wrong. Ushuaia may not be the picture perfect cliché of paradise, but it’s home, and I think it is pretty cool living at the end of the world.