The End of the World
January 2nd, 2003
How does one decide to cross a continent, you ask? Well, after seven weeks soaking up the sun in paradisical Bahia, Brazil, I passed through Uruguay and was hanging on the Argentine coast, set for another few months of summer beach fun, when I took a severe right turn, ending up amidst penguins and glaciers. I have decided to commence an epic journey during these opening months of 2003.
Last weekend, while still on the coast, I met some friends that took me to the mountains for the weekend; there we rock-climbed, rode horses and had late-night meat-eating frenzies known here as asados. At some point during this adventure, probably when my horse was galloping through fields of sunflowers with a majestic sunset in the distance, I had an epiphany of sorts and realized that the months of beach-combing I had planned was not my best option. And so, passing up beach-side discos, pretty girls and shady hammocks, I have decided to undertake what will prove to be another exciting journey.
I am starting from Tierra del Fuego, where I write from today and will travel 6,000 miles or so (all by land) through the magical Patagonia, the northern coast of Chile, the desert of southern Bolivia and through the swampy Pantanal to the northern coast of Brazil, where I will arrive by March 1st, which just happens to be the start of Carnaval. I figure that should keep me busy for a while…
For some reason, I felt drawn to Ushuaia, located at the very tip of the South American continent, for New Year’s Eve. “The End of the World” for the End of the Year; sure, I am a bit of a geography nerd, but you must admit, it does have a nice ring. Always having been interested in outpost towns such as this, where man and nature peacefully co-exist, Ushuaia has proved to be a scintillating spot. Set amidst snow peaks at the edge of the famous Beagle Channel, Ushuaia marks the end of one continent and the jumping-off point for another: Antarctica.
Obviously drawn to the elusive continent of snow, I came here seeking passage, but was turned away by the $8,000 price tag. After doing the math, realizing I would have to sell 19,200 cans of beer at Wrigley, I decided to pass. I inquired with a few boats hoping they needed some crew, especially an inexperienced deck-hand such as myself, but the only position they were looking for was “Peg Boy,” so I had to decline. (For those not well-versed in pirate history, peg boys were, well, boys that sat on pegs, so that the pirates, could, uh, relieve their sexual inactivity while on long journeys at sea. Sorry for the startling image, but just wanted you all to know why I will be staying on land.)
So, you ask, Adam passes up a wild beach spot for Antarctic chill, how then does he spend his New Year’s Eve? Good question. After spending the day in Tierra del Fuego National Park, trekking through the forests, filled with ancient trees, some of which are a thousand years old (which, due to the wintry 100 mph winds, are all slanted away from the coast), I decided to usher in the New Year from a spot of true timelessness. What better place to reflect on the utter insignificance of a new year (and time in general) than from atop a primordial glacier? I reached the top not only in time for New Years, but also just in time to catch the sunset. Midnight sun is quite common in these parts and very bizarre. In fact, the sun never really goes down here, it just sort of bounces along the horizon. So, there I sat, with my champagne chilling in the icy river, watching the sunset at the end of the world. I had reached another milestone, and I marveled in my location and lucky, yet ludicrous life.
But for those insisting that it didn’t sound like Adam to experience such a tame end of the year, worry not. Waiting for me at the bottom was a full-on rave party with amazing house DJ’s flown in from Buenos Aires. Set in a huge white tent, the place thumped all night long, full of revelers from the whole world over. Lasting well into New Year’s Day, it was truly a party of epic proportions. Quite a kick-off for 2003.
So, there you have it, welcome aboard. 6,000 miles to go, I begin anew in this third year of the millennium. All systems go.