Ushuaia: the good, the bad and the ugly

Having lived in Ushuaia for about 6 months now, I got to know a bit more of the city beyond the usual tourist façade. Just a bit in fact. I realize there is still quite some ground left to explore.

The city is wide-spread out on the foothills of the Andes mountains, that serve as a magnificent backdrop. At its feet lies the magical Beagle channel, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The setting is truly beautiful.

Downtown Ushuaia with glacier Martial in the background
Downtown Ushuaia with glacier Martial in the background

Ushuaia’s geographical features make up for the rather doubtful choices made in city planning. Or maybe that’s the issue: there is no plan. Driving into the city you’ll pass big factories, high stacked containers and huge gas oil tanks. Maipu, the main street that runs in between the coastline and the city, is lined with many parking areas. Many new buildings have been erected here occupying every single empty spot; big, ugly and grey, they overshadow the beauty of the original, colorful houses here. Roads and sidewalks are in a deteriorating state in places, and lined with car wrecks and garbage. Part of the forest that grows up the mountains has been taken down to create space for new districts, some part of city planning, others initiated by the people themselves.

Everyone you’ll ask, will have an opinion about the city’s issues and its causes. Many will direct to its history, its inhabitants and its government. Or is it just plain simple lack of taking responsibility? I am still in the process of understanding the complexity of it all.

Road coming into Ushuaia
Road coming into Ushuaia

By no means I want to sound negative though. I really got to appreciate my temporary home base. Wandering around town I found now favorite spots, either for a coffee, for breathing the fresh air, for watching the boats in the bay, the mountains, the sunset. Looking a bit further there’s many small green areas and play grounds which come to life at night and in the weekends.

Like all Argentines, the Fuegians love their asado, and spots to enjoy them can be found just outside town. The port is bustling with activity, and the seaside is busy with people strolling and drinking mate. San Martin, downtown’s main shopping and restaurant area is vibrant till late at night, when traffic is slow as cars line up wasting fuel and locals slowly make their way through, window shopping and chatting.

Ushuaia’s good, bad and ugly make what is Ushuaia. It’s raw and it’s real and certainly there is room for improvement. The town, its culture and customs and its remarkable, wild, natural surroundings beg for further exploration. All are a continuous inspiration for many more blog articles and photographic themes.

Cruisers, fisher boats and catamarans in the harbor of Ushuaia
Cruisers, fisher boats and catamarans in the harbor of Ushuaia.

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