As the bottom of the South American continent narrows it dissolves into a group of islands, and that is where we are headed – Tierra del Fuego. My guidebook says it was so named by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520 when he saw cooking fires all along the shores of the islands as he sailed around Cape Horn.
It’s the normal drill, we go to the Migracion and Aduana to check out of the country we are leaving and then do the same at the country we are entering to get admitted.
I see a posted in the offices showing endangered bird species and am surprised at how many I have been lucky enough to see as we ride.
This is another joint Argentina/Chile office as it turns out….
When we are finished we ride on, toward the ferry that will take us to TDF, and to what locals call Fin del Mundo – the End of the World.
The very bottom of the mainland belongs to Chile so we must cross back into Chile before we catch the ferry to Tierra Del Fuego. The big island itself is half Argentina and half Chile (roughly), and we will have to cross another border on the island to cross into the Argentinian side and reach our destination of Ushuaia.
The ferry is loading as we arrive and stop for a photo. I ride out onto the concrete slope to the boat that isn’t tethered to shore, it’s engines are pushing its metal ramp to land and I watch as waves splash over the metal ramp and the boat rocks up and down changing my angle of approach with every second. I try to time the rhythm of it and then make my move, and suddenly I’m on board.
One of the crew comes over and directs us to a payment window on the main deck but then says we should stay with our bikes as the crossing will be rough in the middle of the 30-40 minute ride. I watch a bus load as I take my helmet off, and then suddenly we are on our way. Swells start moving the boat up and down softly, but enough that I hate to let go of my bike. I stay with it and finally the man from the payment window comes to us to get the fees. We can watch the horizon lift over the end of the boat and then disappear as the rough channel waters lift the big ferry and slosh her around.
A crew member hangs on to my bike so I can go up on the deck to the bathroom and sneak a pic….and I can already see us approaching TDF.
I look back and take a photo as the boat loads the crowd heading back to the mainland.
Here we are at last….Tierra del Fuego.