Unexpected exit from Ushuaia

I arrived in plenty of time for check in at Ushuaia airport for my DAP flight to Punta Arenas  in Chile. I figured that any spare time could be used to charge my gadgets, update my blog and have lunch. It didn’t work out like that.

Checked my bag, went through security into the rarely used international departure waiting area and found myself alone.image No food outlet and lavatories were locked. All I had was half a bottle of water and with a stomach like mine, the morning after the night before, I started to panic. With no charge points I could not even while away the time on my blog.

After some time I was joined by four chinese who were as bewildered as I. I paced the area, occasionally looking out of the window, when I saw a small twin prop aircraft land. It then dawned on me that with few passengers DAP were not using their jet but the De Havilland twin otter that I had wanted to fly on in the first place.

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If only I had known I wouldn’t have had the last Jamesons or two, I would have eaten something and I certainly would have used the lavatory, as there are none on a twin otter.

The fear was transferring to my bowels when I remembered some emergency medication I was carrying and with an hour to go before take off it should kick in. First a sublingual quick acting immodium tablet followed five minutes later by a temazapam tablet. My old company doctor used to give me temazapam as it is a relaxant enabling sleep on long haul flight. It has other properties for which it is not prescribed so often. It is a strong anti-emetic for cancer patients and it also prevents travel sickness. Just the job for this turbulent flight lasting 1.5 hours as opposed to less than one hour by jet.

Six other US and Spanish passengers completed the manifest and finally someone came to unlock the bathroom doors and there was a stampede.

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Time for boarding and we were led with an escort fore and aft along corriders through domestic arrival halls and on to the tarmac where or plane awaited. We scrambled aboard, sat where we liked and because there were only eleven of us on this 19 seater there was plenty of room. Both my tablets had kicked in and I was feeling good. I took some pics as we took of and watched for a while as we passed the mountains.

Then I had the relaxant benefit of the temazapam and fell asleep for an hour!!

 

Aeroclub Ushuaia

I have definitely felt better than when I woke up on Saturday morning but the sun was shining so it was possible that I could take a flight down the Beagle Channel. I called the Aeroclub and they were able to fit me in at 9.15.

I quickly packed, checked out of the hostel and drove to the old airport, where the club is based. I was to fly in a 1974 !! Piper Cherokee with a pilot younger than the plane. Would you believe they can get four into this tin can.

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It had also just started to rain with heavy cloud moving in quickly. The pilot, Federico, gave me the headphones to enable us to converse, and went through his pre-take-off checks. I made a mental check myself that my stomach was also OK for take off. Were away.

The rain dampened the experience a little but it was great to get a clearer understanding of the mountains on both the Chilean and Argentine sides of the Beagle Channel. We also passed over Ushuaia city and down the Beagle Channel as far as the famous lighthouse.

See the landing in the rain HERE.

Crossing the Beagle Channel

When planning my trip I had hoped to cross the Beagle Channel from Ushuaia, Argentina to Puerto Williams, Chile but logistics, politics and economics got in the way.

The logistics: As I am visiting numerous locations I do not have the luxury of time and therefore the risk of not being able to cross the channel on a particular day because of weather or unreliability of transport ruled out this option. puerto-williams-boat-472-310The crossing is by inflatable boat with an outboard motor and the flight out of Puerto Williams would have been by DAP’s Twin Otter plane. otter-472-310It would have been quite an adventure …but a bridge too far for me.

The politics: When Argentina forcefully took over the Falkland Islands in 1982 many may not have known that they had “previous”. Four years earlier, despite an international award to Chile, Argentina laid claim to some islands in the Beagle Channel. This became known as the Beagle Conflict and brought the countries to the brink of war and was instrumental in Chile siding with the UK during the Falklands war. Despite the Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed by Argentina and Chile in 1984 all is not forgotten in this region, making it difficult to make the 4 mile crossing across the Beagle Channel.

The economics: Both Ushuaia and Puerto Williams vie for tourism dollars in Tierra del Fuego and it seems that neither side see any benefit in a regular ferry service across the channel.

 

Off to Lima

In two weeks time, I will fly out to Lima at the start of another solo post-retirement trip. I will travel around Argentina, Chile and Peru, visiting places that, for me, have always held a fascination.

glacier-trekThe planning has not been without its problems as flights have been modified or cancelled and one planned excursion has been ruled out as I am deemed to be too old. A mini trek on the advancing Perito Moreno glacier is limited to those under the age of 65, an age limit which is apparently strictly enforced. This is a problem with advancing years and a reason to do as much as possible before one reaches the arbitrary three score years and ten, when hiring a car and getting travel insurance becomes either more difficult or more expensive.

In the links above I mapped my itinerary, resurrected blogs from previous trips, and listed some travel tips which may be helpful to other solo oldies.

This is the first post for my new trip and I hope to be able to share my experiences with you along the way.