The mind wanders and sways to the breeze of unfamiliar thoughts, ideas and notions. The origins of the new are as difficult to pin down as any sense of conclusion, one thing that does seem a certainty though is that the end of the world is a place of space and eternity. We have tatty passports, barely a possession that we left home with so with just over a third of this adventure away from home it seems far too early to be looking over the end of the world. It seems far more appropriate to say that we’re having a journey away from home and life as we know it rather than a journey towards anything or anywhere, it’s just more accurate. The road ahead is not bereft of locations, signposts or goals however perceiving the road ahead as a goal to achieve seems unreachable right now; instead it’s open and without prejudice, a vacuum to be filled. So where are we ‘going’? It seems like nowhere that we can articulate, but we’re going there anyway; the only tangible is what has happened and what is happening, not speculation about what lies before.
One deep breath and I’m back from the brink of talking like a vague drug-addled post modern former B-list faux-buddhist celebrity passing up his decades long cocaine habit as a spiritual podium on which to preach from. After I achieve B-list celebrity status first of all I intend to embrace my post modern drug addled hysteria for what it is; maybe I’ll write less obscurely then.
All jokes aside there is a definite and unavoidable sense of openness, limitless possibilities and grand notions in parts of the world like this. Sitting at a hostel table now gazing through a dusty window I see a frontier town on a bitterly fought over channel of water and beyond, the drop-in theatrical stage set that is the snow dappled Andes. Travelling the length of this great range was always part of our plan and we’ve more or less done it, small deviations our only distraction. And now, the longest range in the world that has become our friend, our muse and indeed our tormentor at times slowly and passively shrinks from ominous force to submerged slumber, the beast has been tamed. The colloquial term ‘end of the world’ is used a lot here, it’s the most southerly place excepting antarctica but the broken up specks of land that finish like the trailing trickle of a spluttering spray can speak so powerfully of finality.
So where does one go when one has reached the end of the world? Of course we take a minute to have a gawk and then it’s boots on and off into the wilderness. The day in Ushuaia is full of the usual shopping, cooking, counting clothes, confirming park entries mixed with a good dose of old fashioned looking around. Oh, and a bit of wanky literary rubbish of course. The town is not entirely tiny but definitely not a city, the range of retail options for all manner of unnecessary stuff a strong pointer to a boom and bust tourist cycle, a very ski town type feel. It’s a little touristy but the vastness and imposing sense of forever quickly banishes any feeling of an over serviced cash trap. We stop for coffee, we have a bite to eat and we take photos in this charming little town that stares off the end of the world.
We even get a good exchange rate on the blue dollar; lets explain the blue dollar for those of you unfamiliar. The Argentinian economy is about as stable as Australian politics right now (January 2015) so people are desperate for hard currency in US dollars as savings. Illegally people will give anyone about 40% better exchange to have their pesos changed to US dollars cash, so it’s into boarded up rooms, toyshops, cafes or even right on the street to personally contribute to Argentina’s impending economic doom. There oddly seems to be a better rate the larger the town or city so to get a change of $12.70 as opposed to BA’s $13 is a bonus. We’re cashed up and ready to jump into wilderness where we can’t spend it.
Like taking a big breath before a deep dive we prepare to literally walk step by step into the above mentioned void of nothingness so tangible in this place. Tomorrow we venture off for a short walk to camp one night in the national park and allow the vacuum of the future to solidify around us at each taken step. The photos will be shot, sights seen, food eaten, footprints left and memories taken; but that will happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is an open void and there’s no place to go, nothing to see; until the sun comes up again. For now we’re just the two of us staring into nothingness, hand in hand in the ‘now’ staring off the end of the world with the only certainty the hand that is in each others.