Sunday, December 31, 2006


It took us twelve hours to get to the end of the world. OK, technically Ushuaia is not the most southern point of the world. Cape Horn is. Or rather Antarctica, but hey the boats were full (and at least 2000 dollars).
Things you do at the end of the world are hiking up a mountain and visit the national park and marvel about the late hour it gets dark, and not even that dark.
We stayed in a place that was a lot like other places we have stayed in: cheap, old rooms, just about clean bathrooms and uncosy kitchens. We never really feel at home in those places, but most people who are staying there actually live there. Which gives us the chance to inquire about their lifestyle and politics. Argentineans love talking and are more than happy to give their opinions. So while a man was cutting up a whole lamb with a big Swiss knife he explained to us (again) that Chileans were no good. Great deal has to do with them supporting England during the Falkland war (Las islas Malvinas, 1982). He also emphasized that Chile was the only country in South America where half of the population would spill tears over a deceased dictator.
We then moved on to Fidel Castro, who is not considered negatively as by the western world. "In a country that only produces sugar, cigars and rum and that has an American embargo running against it, most people still have enough to eat and free health care, that is quite an accomplishment." Is Castro still alive by the way? Heard Hussein isn´t.
While we were at it, we continued discussing other leaders.
Chavez, the just reelected president of Venezuela gets great support. He resists foreign - mainly American- economical power and tries to nationalise enterprises. He also wants the South American countries to work together. The expectations are high, as he as well promised to reduce poverty. I can understand the support, he seems to put words into action but his approach towards foreign affairs worry me a little. His phrasing towards the US are never moderate (apparently to do with his kidnapping by the CIA in 2001) and he is good friends with madman Ahmadinejad of Iran and has called back his ambassador in Israel. Just from a pragmatic point of view it might not that smart; There is an enormous amount of Israeli backpackers in South America and tourism is big source of income.
Practically all Israelis leave to travel for about six to twelve months, after being 2-3 years in the army, or longer. Many hostels here have Hebrew writing. Most of the Israelis leave alone and meet their compatriots here. We have stayed in places where we were the only ones who did not come from the Middle East. We have tried to make some contact, but they seem to be mainly focused on other Hebrew speakers, even if we have been playing card games on a few occasions and invited to a BBQ. Even though I am familiar with a lot of aspects of Israel, it is different talking to an F16 pilot who flew over Lebanon or hear a girl of Russian descent talk about minorities.

We left the end of the world behind to go into Chile again, to their most well known natural park, Torres del Paine. A day of preparation in which we hired a tent, a stove and other camping gear and collected food for four days (I baked about 20 pancakes that days.Yes I am crazy).
We walked seven hours a day up and down steep paths, most of the time with our backpacks on. We saw blue-green lakes, white glaciers, brown mountains, green fields and grey rocks. The weather was windy, rainy, even snowy, bearable though, but at night we had trouble sleeping, because of the cold. The last day we climbed our way up over rocks to reach the top, to see the Torres (three mountaintops). The first thing I saw however was a girl who said in Dutch to me: "I know you". Turned out to be an ex-colleague from my early student years (NIW redactie). How is that?

No rest after that. The next day we took the bus to El Calafate to admire an impressive and huge glacier (a long-lasting river of ice and snow) in the cold rain. It was Christmas, but luckily here they don´t seem to be going crazy about it, so we just had a quiet evening and then it was over. We had two days left before our flight to Buenos Aires, so we went to yet another national park, this time in Argentina, Fitzroy. More hiking there and then off to the capital again!

We were done with the cold, in Buenos Aires it was at least 30 degrees Celsius and we knew this was going to be the coolest place for a long time...
We saw a few people we had met during our first weeks of travelling and we came to a Tango class with Pato. To my surprise I enjoyed it a lot! Yet another career option opens up...

As we never rest, but just go on and on we are now in Iguassu, the broadest waterfall range in the world. Impressive is most definitely the word for it. Hard to grasp such natural beauty. It is very hot and sticky here. As we are nearing the Tropical forest now it is very green, the insects and lizards are bigger, mosquito bites higher in number and the butterflies more colourful (small wingy portions of magic)..

We were supposed to celebrate New Years´ Eve on the beach in Brazil, but we couldn't make the bus by one hour. Too bad. Not sure what we will be doing tonight, certainly we will cross the border and go to the Brazilian side (Foz do Iguazu) and see what happens there. We have no clue what Brazil will be like, exotic and dangerous is what we expect.
We are tired. Very tired. We have the intention to take it slower and have more fun from now on....hope you do the same, cheers!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


We are growing a tiredness of buses. It seems like we are either sitting in a bus for at least six hours or hiking for six hours.
What we do with the rest of the time?
We look for a place to sleep, collect food, try to gather information and talk to strangers.

We are now half way on our trip. We still have two months and one week left, but it feels like we are running out of time. We have crossed most of Chile, but there is still so much left to do.
The south couldn´t be more different from the north. In the north the view was invariably dry desert, while here it rains a lot, is therefor very green and has many lakes.
Our favourite spot so far was Pucon, where we stayed in a lovely hostel ran by a Dutch guy.
We climbed up a volcano. Dressed in hired trousers, jackets, sunglasses and a helmet (yes I looked very sexy) we struggled 4-5 hours through the snow. I don´t think our guide thought we would make it, as the only thing that came out of his mouth was: ' vamos chicas' . Of course we made it up to the crater.
Going back we sat down on our behind and slided down the steep slopes. You should try to scream (scary) and laugh (funny) at the same time...not easy!

oh, and yes! We saw penguins..OK, I wasn´t able to converse properly with them, as they were on a rock and I in a rubber boat, but it was worth it!

Summer is approaching. We are travelling in the direction of Antarctica, so it is COLD! We also notice summer is on its way as buses and hostels are fully booked at times now. But that is not always bad. We were stuck here (Punta Arenas) for a day, with not much to do, but it was nice to just relax and watch TV for once and not constantly being on a hike or planning ahead..

The big news is of course the death of Pinochet. We don´t notice much, except for a few communists on the square. It all seems to be happening in Santiago. What we did notice, is that the papers don´t seem to refer to him as ´ex dictator´ as I am sure the European press does. Let´s just hope they won´t stop the investigations


Hag Sameach, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!



Rosella and Sylvia

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hey, Free internet in some hostels (Pucon, Bariloche), so I have been able to upload the pictures of our visit to New York, two months ago already!
Now I better get moving,we need to hitchhike to Chiloe,Chile today..