I found biking across the island of Tierra del Fuego both more scenic and easier than I had expected, as strong tailwinds pushed me across wide plains and then mountainous forest. However, I found that my head was spinning most of the way, as I contemplated finishing the trip. For the past year and a half, I have said that I was headed to Ushuaia, Argentina’s most southern city, and, as I approached the city, I kept asking myself why it was that I was biking there.
Indeed, my actual experience in Ushuaia was fairly unsuccessful. I tried to visit a school, but when I saw the teachers marching in the street demanding a pay increase, I learned that school was temporarily not in session. I tried to stay at the fire station in town (I have stayed at over 35 fire stations on this trip), but was turned down because so many travelers come to this city that the firefighters had to stop letting people stay with them. I found myself unable mentally to go to the media (although I did talk to a few people about global warming – all of whom confirmed that there is less snow in this area than decades past). I decided that this could not really be the end.
I looked on my map and found that there was a road that traveled a bit further south. ‘Route J’ curves southeast around Tierra del Fuego’s southern end, and it looked to me like the furthest south road in South America. Traveling two more days, I biked down this one lane dirt road to see where it led.
At the end, I found a building overlooking the entrance to the Beagle Channel, where Cesar, Juan, and Eduardo were working for the Argentine coast guard monitored ships coming to and from Ushuaia. Cesar and I looked at the large nautical map on the wall, and confirmed that this was indeed as far south as I could bike.
They shared with me some lemonade and explained how they communicate with ships that come through the channel. I went ouside and took some pictures overlooking the water, and accepted that this was really the end of Ride for Climate The Americas. A pickup truck soon came by the building to drop off supplies, and, as it left, offered me a ride. It was only the third car I had seen on this stretch of road that day, so I accepted and left.
I am now back in Ushuaia trying to find somewhere to take a shower (again not being very successful) before leaving in a few hours for Buenos Aires. It is still quite difficult to realize that I am here, and that this trip is truly over. I hope to write a few more thoughts on this trip, including final thoughts on global warming in Latin America, when I reach Buenos Aires in a few days.