Traveling to Ushuaia – A Journey To The End Of The World

4 a.m. around 100 km north of Río Gallegos. I haven’t slept for 32 hours, but the vast Patagonian landscape of veldt you are traveling through fills you with excitement and numbness at the same time, that makes it impossible to find rest. The hours pass, you stare out of the window and it’s as if you would glance at a prehistoric, untouched landscape and realizes how our planet might have been looked a million years ago, before mankind started to cover the earth with highways, urban sprawling and industrial sites.

I could have taken a plane. I could have avoided effort and pain. I could have saved time and money. I could have chosen the nice and easy way. But ever since I have seen the unfamiliar name of Ushuaia, the most southern town in the world, on a map I knew that traveling over land to this destination on tip of the American Continent would be the only way for me. The journey is the reward.

On the bus I met Ricardo, a student from Puerto Montt/ Chile. Together we have been listening to Gustavo Santaolalla’s great song “De Ushuaia a la Quiaca” over and over again, and it seems as if the Argentinean composer has created the perfect soundtrack for traveling trough Patagonia: a hypnotizing melody of distant, superjacent guitars containing this piercing twitch of solitude. A music that intensifies the delirious state on the edge of being awake and falling asleep I’ve been for almost 2 days. As further we are traveling south I realize that we are approaching to the end of the world, to a point were you can’t go any further.

The landscape changes, it’s getting sparser. Sometimes from the middle of nowhere turns up a sheep farm or some remote village consisting of three wooden houses and a church, but as soon as we have passed, there’s pampas, solitude and loneliness again. The incredible vast sky is melting with the horizon and suddenly you wonder if you will ever reach your destination or if this fragile dream of rough beauty might continue forever. And maybe it doesn’t matter anymore, because you have already crossed a hidden frontier and reached an inner point of no return.

But suddenly it all ends, Magellan Strait, the last barrier that had separated us from legendary Tierra del Fuego, has been crossed and we actually reach Ushuaia. The bus spills out its tired, exhausted and happy freight and it feels like a rebirth, like an awakening. Windy roads lead me to the port where giant cruise ships and rotten fishing boats are swaying in Beagle Channel. I’m glancing at the nearby mountain range, forming part of the National Park Tierra del Fuego, when a sudden thought rises up: maybe this isn’t the end of the world; maybe it’s just the beginning.