January 03, 2006 GMT

Ushuaia is just like the North Cape - nothing of beauty, you just have to be there once, because it's the world's southernmost city. Wrong. Well, only partly right. Ushuaia itself is not interesting. Just another tourist town. However, the scenery of the surrounding mountains, the Beagle channel and the (almost) arctic skies is beautiful and worth a one-day-visit at least.

During Christmas on Ushuaia's 'Rio Pipo' campground motorcycle travellers from all over the world meet and celebrate. I arrived two days late for this - and it was cold and raining when I arrived - so I had some good reasons not to camp :-)

Ushuaia's mountain scenery and the beautiful view over the Beagle channel come really surprising. So does the great new asphalt road that winds its way through the beautiful landscape of mountains and lakes towards Ushuaia - since some 90 percent of the maybe 700 km from Torres del Paine to Ushuaia are very boring, flat and straightforward. After having passed several days through Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego one is rather fed up with flat and featureless landscapes. So I was quite happy and grateful for the beautiful landscapes around Ushuaia.

In Ushuaia I tried to add some fork oil. Unfortunately I had to find out that during the last inspection the brazilian BMW mechanic had fixed the fork's screws so hard that it was impossible to release them without destroying them. So I have to go ahead losing fork oil without refilling it until I find a mechanic on my way to Santiago. I asked for advice in the horizonsunlimited.com bulletin board and everybody told me that I could go ahead even completely without fork oil - the bike would just get a little worse in handling but nothing would be destroyed. So this is what I did - for several thousand km - without any obvious problems.

After one night I left Ushuaia, spending a night just before the border crossing to Chile, in a run-down but cheap 70ies style hotel, which would have been really nice (lots of brown and orange colours and typical late 70ies/early 80ies interior) if not quite neglected. So to compensate for this, I spent the next night in quite a luxurious place in Puerto San Julian, a few hundred km further north. I got there taking the Ruta 3, which is perfectly asphalted and allowed me to cover a large distance at some 120 kph. I had seen enough of Patagonia and was fed up with Patagonia's gravel roads - so I wanted to get into Chile's south and on the famous Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) as soon as possible.

When I arrived at the hotel I noticed that I was almost deaf: At a continuous speed of 120 kph the wind was so loud that I had my auditory buzzing the entire evening and still the next morning. So I decided to use my (almost) brand new silicone ear plugs. I heard about people (mainly female) who have this substance implanted into their breasts to look sexier. I understand that, I looked already a lot sexier with that stuff in my ears. However.. I would not like to have it implanted in whatever part of my body...

The funny thing about the small town of Puerto San Julian in the middle of nowhere was that in the evenings the youngsters had nothing better to do than drive the town's only Avenida up and down, apparently for hours and hours. Incredible, isn't it? However it seems to be a kind common mental disease in the South Argeninian countryside (maybe a follow-up of mad-cow-desease?), since the next evening I saw the same ritual happening in Perito Moreno town as well. Poor guys, so bored and no better ideas what to do...

Posted by Winne Lichtblau at January 03, 2006 01:39 AM GMT

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