The first thing I saw when we went down to the train was the Canadian flag whipping in the wind. Between that and all the fall colours, for one second I thought that I was back home! Then I realized that flags from quite a few other countries were displayed too. I never pay much attention to the Maple Leaf at home, but it after so many months away it felt like an old friend.
Our next step was down at the docks of Ushuaia. I'd been looking for beagles ever since we climbed off the airplane, but hadn't seen even one. Now I asked Fernanda if all the beagles had migrated north with the penguins. She said that no, the Beagle Channel was named after an old sailing ship called H.M.S. Beagle, sent out from England with a crew of scientists to explore South America. A naturalist called Charles Darwin sailed on it, and studied how animal species adapt to different environments in order to survive.
I don't understand why they talk about people from Europe discovering places in Tierra del Fuego, when people had already been living here for ten thousand years. How can you discover a place that's already been discovered? Now I know how Tierra del Fuego got its name, though. There used to be far more Yaghan Indians here then, and the explorers saw the lights of all their cooking fires twinkling in the hills and called the island Land of Fire.
We boarded a catamaran, which is a boat with two hulls, for our tour. These double hulls help stabilize the boat, so that it doesn't roll and pitch as much. That means that people are less likely to get seasick. An icy rain was falling when we boarded, but it was warm and cozy inside the boat. These people were warming up over hot mates, and they invited me to join them.
I can almost hear you asking, "What is mate?" You see it every day! It's that tea Ms. Wright drinks through a metal straw every morning. I just thought she was being weird, but here everybody drinks it. They never drink it when they're by themselves, though, because mate is something you're supposed to share. I like it when it has sugar in it, but otherwise I just like to smell it.
(You know, I don't think Argentine people ever step out their front door without making sure they have a thermos of hot water and a bag of mate!)
After sipping some hot mate, I went off to look out through the windows. Fernanda had said that we were going to see sea lions today, and I didn't want to miss them. Sure enough, we sailed past whole groups of them. They were barking at each other, and playing King of the Castle. As soon as a sea lion was pushed off the island into the water, it would climb back up the island and push somebody else off. They like to play the same game on the channel buoys, too. When they aren't playing King of the Castle, they like to take naps - they look as if they've been poured onto the rocks!
When we sailed back into the harbour, it was supper time. Guess what Fernanda bought for our supper?
French fries? Wrong.
Pizza? Wrong again.
It was this.Delicious!