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June 25, 2012
I fly into Ushuaia, Argentina, and arrive at my hotel on a grey and moody afternoon.
It is 5 °C but the wind chill makes it feel much colder. I have to remind myself I am lucky, as January is Ushuaia’s warmest month. I take a taxi – which looks like a relic from the seventies – from the small airport to the hotel. We race down an unmade road as the wheels churn up stones that spring out in all directions, occasionally hitting cars coming in the opposite direction. As I peer out of the window, I have my first real glimpse of the town’s poverty: flimsy shacks and concrete public housing, ancient cars and cheap, well-worn clothing. I glimpse a horse half inside a shack’s doorway, its bum towards the road. Odd, but at least half the horse may be warm. The postcard pictures of the town-centre and harbour look very cute, but there is much that the postcards do not show.
Ushuaia is the capital city of Tierra del Fuego Province. It is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world and is the main departure point for ships going to Antarctica. Tourism now provides increasing employment here, but only in the summer months. It’s a tough place to eke out a living.