THE OTHER USHUAÏA

by Carlos Risco June 2014 Read in PDF format N1/2014
THE OTHER USHUAÏA On the other side of the world lies Ushuaia: a Patagonian city in Tierra del Fuego, at the central point of the Pan-American trail. This is the land of glaciers and penguins - nature in its purest form.

The other Ushuaia is a Patagonian city in Tierra del Fuego, at the centre of the Pan-American trail. This is the land of glaciers and penguins -nature in its purest form. The ‘other’ Ushuaia exhibits a similarly special energy to its Ibizan counterpart, and both are characterised by grand scale, personal encounters and self-exploration. In 1992, coinciding with the fifth centenary of the discovery of America, the Argentinian film maker Pino Solanas filmed ‘The Journey’, a symbolic ode to Latin America, which starts in the city of Ushuaia at the very end of the world in the Argentinean Patagonia. The film portrays this remote island as a piece of land torn away from the continent and located within the striking landscape of the Patagonian southern tip, not unlike an austral Alaska. The inspiring film by Solanas casts its eye on the small and remote capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia, a magical city, which entices curious travellers who hear about its pristine beauty, its origins, native inhabitants and the mythical sailors that defied its icy waters. Ushuaia is positioned as a fascinating destination for those who wish to experience the edge of the world. Tucked away on the shores of the Beagle Canal, the city is subject to a tough winter and experiences little respite in summer when temperatures are still cold. The name Ushuaia means ‘bay facing west’ in the Yamana language. It is the capital for those travelling to Tierra del Fuego and the Pan-American trail, which crosses the continent. It is also visited by travellers who wish to get to know Patagonia, together with the tourist trail centred on the cities of Puerto Madryn and Calafate. Arriving there is already an adventure: being an island, the quickest way to get to Ushuaia is by air. You can fly direct from Buenos Aires or, for those who prefer travelling by land, on the National Route 3, which runs along the Patagonian coast. You could alternatvely take Route 40, which runs along the Argentinean mountain range, in which case you have to cross the Strait of Magellan to Isla Grande in Tierra del Fuego by ferry and cross the Chilean border, which requires visas and custom permits. Throughout the year, the main places to visit include the national park of Tierra del Fuego, Martial Glacier, Beagle Canal, Escondido, Fagnano Lakes and the train Fin del Mundo. Ushuaia, the remotest city, is, above all, striking in nature and home to incredibly warm people. “Patagonian people are kind, obliging, solidary and welcoming,” says Juan Cherañuk, from the Tourist Department of the Municipality of Ushuaia, who highlights the Patagonian customs of “sipping mate, eating roasts with family and friends, going out for walks at the National Park when the sun is shining and, in winter, building snowmen and going sledging or ice-skating.” When listening to him, one imagines this Patagonian race to be much like the Argentinian ‘Doctor in Alaska’.

THE PATAGONIAN IBIZA

Do they know about the Ibizan Ushuaïa in the Patagonian Ushuaia? “We know that Ibizan Ushuaïa is a luxury hotel with a wide variety of restaurants, and that it is a resort and hosts all sorts of events. Ibiza is seen in Patagonia as an exciting destination with year-round activity. In many ways we are the same,” says Cherañuk cheerfully. Why does the Ibiza Ushuaïa take the name from the Argentinean austral city? Yann Pissenem, founder, partner and artistic director of Ushuaïa Ibiza, explains it by reminiscing on his lifelong dream: to open a beach club on an island. Seven years ago, A friend told him that there was one available in Ibiza, Sands, so he bought a part of it. “I was in Playa d’en Bossa, which at that time was no man’s land. It was almost deserted, there was nothing and I told myself, ‘This is the end of the world.’Ushuaia was also a nature programme I used to watch on TV during my childhood in France.” Curiously enough, between two hemispheres, the Ibizan Ushuaïa and the austral Ushuaia are magically linked - two powerful natural places where humans celebrate life in a complementary, though climatically-opposed, way. Pissenem states that Ushuaia is powerful because it is not a simple name: “When something is difficult to remember, the day that is ingrained in your brain is a powerful one: one that you will never forget”.

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