Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How to Destroy a Car?

Since we have arrived in Ushuaia (about five days ago now), we have been trying to sell our car. This turns out to be very difficult, since Argentina wont let anyone import used cars. This means we either have to sell it to someone who wants to leave the country with it (another foreigner) or someone who will drive it around illegally. We have had lots of interest in the car, but no one wants to take on the risk (even though we are selling it for very cheap). No one wants it for parts either, since pre-2004 Hondas aren't very common around here. We have found a couple of sketchy guys that just want to "trade cars" with us. I'm not sure why they think we will do this, but it's been offered more than once.

So what do you do with a perfectly functioning car you can't sell? You destroy it. We are trying to come up with ideas that aren't going to be too bad for the environment (the customs guy suggested we burn it, we said no), so we probably wont be driving it into the ocean or off of a cliff. Any ideas? Let us know!

PS We are flying out Friday. Can't wait to get back to San Francisco.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ushuaia, Argentina or the end of the earth

We finally made it! We have been in Ushuaia for two nights now. It's absolutely beautiful and surrounded by snow capped mountains and a bay. It is cold and windy here. The actual end of the Pan-American is in the Tierra del Fuego national park, so we went there yesterday.

End of the Road, Ushuaia, Argentina

The park was beautiful, but it's hard to hike in the cold with such strong winds. This is the actual southern point we could get to in the park:

Tierra del Fuego Park, Ushuaia, Argentina

The park also had lots of wildlife. There were supposed to be beavers that were brought in and are now an invasive species, but we only saw dams, no beavers. I guess it's okay since we can see them in the US.

Red-headed woodpecker, Ushuaia, Argentina

We are now trying to sell the car (if you know anyone that wants to buy a car for cheap in Ushuaia, let me know!), which because of Argentinean import laws is proving to be very challenging.  Argentina will not let citizens import used cars, unless they have been out of Argentina for more than six months. Even those that can import, there is a duty of 78% on the car. Because we only have a temporary import, we can only sell to an expat or someone that will drive it illegally (or figure out how to import it). Our chances of selling it to an expat in Buenos Aires would be better, but that would mean having to drive back up there. So right now, we are taking our chances selling it here, maybe for parts. 

Prison Museum, Ushuaia, Argentina

Another problem with hanging out in Ushuaia is that there's not much to do outside of skiing and boat trips. As I said we originally wanted to go to Antarctica and we even went to a travel agent to ask about it. At first she told us they had a trip leaving October 29th for only $2900 per person (the normal cost is almost 5k)! It turns out that boat didn't actually go to Antarctica, only to the South Georgia Islands, the boat to Antarctica didn't leave until November 11th and was for 18 days. So, we will not be going. We did however check out the prison museum in Ushuaia, which turns out was originally a penal colony. The museum was a strange mix of art, history of the town, maritime museum and prison museum. Not only was it a prison museum, it was a museum of other prison museums. Someone had gone to prison museums all over the world and taken pictures. Crazy how many of them exist. 

More pictures soon when I have better internet! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

So Close

I am writing from Lago Fagnano, just about 50 miles north of Ushuaia, Argentina (also know as the end of the earth). Because of timing, we will not be making it to Antarctica (boats will not leave til at least mid November and even then it depends on weather). So, Ushuaia will be our final destination. After spending some time in Ushuaia, we will need to figure out what to do with the car. Argentina does not allow import of cars older than 10 years, so we will most likely be selling for parts or to someone in Tierra del Fuego that will only use it for going around town. It will be a bit sad for our trip to be over, but I think A and I are both excited to get back home and to normal life. Enough blabbering, some pictures and things we've done since my last post!

Shoe destruction, Argentina

1. We saw a glacier! A friend from work T and his wife L were actually vacationing down in the glacier park, so we decided to stop by and say hi (as well as see the glacier, which was totally worth it on it's own). Was great to see some friendly faces.

Glacier Moreno, Argentina

2. Penguins, I wrote about this and will totally upload photos soon, but here is me putting a penguin in my purse.

3. The way to get to Ushuaia and the Tierra del Fuego Islands in Argentina is via Chile. There is a small section in which you have to exit Argentina, take a car ferry across the water and drive on a dirt road for a few hundred kilometeres (even though all the other roads in Chile are paved) and enter back into Argentina. There is almost nothing on the road, no gas and no food. We were prepared for this, but it was still a very long day. We had planned to make it all the way to Ushuaia, but we saw a sign on the side of the road for a Hosteria on a beautiful lake so we decided to stop. Turns out the owners are a young couple (Juan and Ajalin) who have done almost the same driving trip than us, just in reverse! I would definitely recommend staying in their lovely hotel if you visit the area. Their hosteria is called Kaiken and is right near the town of Tohuin.

View from our Cabina, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

My camera ran out of batteries, but I will upload tons more glacier photos and penguin (and Ushuaia) when it's charged!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Argentina, Southbound

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

It's been a long time since I've updated (but I did post some pics on G+!), my parents met us in Buenos Aires, so we were busy running all over the place and eating everything. I think I finally got my fill of steak and wine. Buenos Aires is definitely a very european style city, full of small butcher shops, fruit vendors, little cafes, etc. My father has all the Buenos Aires pictures, but I will try to post a few soon. Some highlights of Buenos Aires (besides getting to see my parents for a week):

1. All of the amazing restaurants, including steak, pastas, and even a great french place.

2. Staying in a place where we could cook. We even got to have pancakes! We stayed in the neighbordhood of San Telmo, which was super cute (it's known as the Tango neighborhood,  but we managed to avoid Tango entirely) and we were able to park the car on the street easily.

Antique shop, San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

3. Seeing not one, but about 15 capybaras at the Buenos Aires zoo. We even got to see the less awesome side of capybaras, when one ate its own poop in front of us.

Capybara, Iguazu Wildlife Refuge, Argentina

4. Being in a real city again, without the car! It was nice to walk/take the train places again. Although, on the subway someone tried to pickpocket my father.

Penguin, Punto Tambo, Argentina

Since Buenos Aires, we've been trying to make good time down to Ushaia, although yesterday we stopped by a Penguin Colony. We got to see a billion penguins up close, they are pretty cute. Unfortunately the babies aren't around til the end of the year, but we did get to see their eggs. Almost immediately after that, we ran out of gas on the highway for the first time. Turns out everyone we interacted with was super friendly and helpful, way more than required. The next gas station was about 30 miles away, oops. I did get to ride in a truck for the first time, though.

Here are some more photos from the past month or so:

Llamas in the road, Argentina

Machu Picchu, Peru

Making Chocolate, Cusco, Peru

After staying with D in Cusco, we somehow got zero pictures of us together. We had a great time in Cusco though! We do seem to have tons of us making chocolate!

Tropic of Capricorn, Argentina

Monday, October 1, 2012

Random Things

1. We saw a dead bear on the highway in Peru. Rigor mortis dead. I wish we had gone back for a picture.

2. We found our new favorite song on Bolivian radio.

3. We have descended off the mountains to sea level, this now means there are cockroaches. I'm totally freaked out. But, the sunsets are beautiful here.

4. There are two speed guns in all of Mexico, Central and South America. They are located on one road in Bolivia. They are unfortunately susceptible to non Spanish speakers.

5. Argentians love: bidets, camping, sandwiches and mate. Seriously go read the wikipedia about it, the strangest part is not the fact that they drink it, but that they carry around this stupid little mug with a metal straw to drink it out of. Along with an enormous thermos full of hot water. They also have this whole ritual around drinking it that is strangely drug like.
*Photo from Wikipedia, not mine.

6. We saw Iguazu falls, which is larger than Niagra. We only got to see the Argentinian side since to see the Brazilian side we would need a visa which costs $135 (USD). It was pretty spectacular even though we went on a horrible rainy day. Pictures to come when I have better internet.

7. We went to an animal preservation site and got to see three(!) capybaras. They call them carpincha here. We didn't know they were around this far south, but apparently they're all over South America. Here is a video of one chewing.

8. More to come soon when I have better internet to upload photos and such (that are not from my phone).