Monday, January 1, 2001

Ushuaia, Argentina

The moon’s mad clown smile slowly rolls on its side, from left to right.

Read. Drink. Doze. Wait.

Emerge blinking and a little stunned into the morning air in Buenos Aires. A forty dollar cab ride transports me and five bulky duffels at the Aeroparque. Four hours of chatting up a chirpy but dull Thai-American bartender who’s sailing on a 300-foot blue hair cruise ship to Antarctica in the dingy airport cafeteria.

There’s another hour sitting in the plane on the ground and three more in the air, concluding with a memorably awful descent into Ushuaia, at the southern tip of the world.

Bienvenidos al fin del mundo.

Peering out the window of a small hilltop restaurant, looking down upon Beagle Channel. A tiny Zodiac motors out against the swell. In fluorescent orange survival suits, the pilot and passenger take a royal pounding, kicking up a cold, soaking spray as they head out toward a cruise ship anchored in the harbor. It all looks so very big. So very cold. So unforgiving.

I feel like a man condemned.

Some Aussie talked of orcas bumping their heads against the yacht’s hull in play, massive icebergs calving. Magic.

And Force 8 gales. Everyone puking.

I’ve got five long days here to think about it all.

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