Photos taken: March 2016
Upon completion of our excursion cruise down the Beagle Channel I was extremely cold and a little wet on account of being out on deck in the freezing conditions for the entire two and a half hour trip primarily to see the sea lions. Still, I didn’t want to waste any time with trying to warm up back on the Star Princess so we disembarked our boat and headed straight into Ushuaia to have a nose around and see if we could pick up some souvenirs.
We didn’t have to walk very far into Ushuaia before we spotted and heard groups of locals out in protest at something. Coming upon protestors in Argentina seemed to be a thing as we’d encountered a group on our arrival in Buenos Aires as well. The difference here was that we hadn’t been told about any planned protests in Ushuaia so we didn’t know what they were protesting about and we were on our own without a tour guide at this point. What we did know was that we’d been instructed not to wear anything Falkland Islands-related on account of the region’s relationship with the location and our recent visit to them (we didn’t; we respect common sense) and we’d spotted some graffiti that seemed to indicate tourism was killing Ushuaia (although my translation of the Spanish was based purely on guesses based on other languages and might have been completely wrong). Subsequently, we put two and two together and concluded that our cruise ship’s arrival might be the cause and that we should keep a low profile. I mostly kept my camera aimed away from the people at this point and we tried to look inconspicuous as we looked for a souvenir shop.
In the souvenir shop we picked up a few items and paid with some dollars in order to get Argentinian money in change. We’d been unable to get any Argentinian money before heading to South America and we like to keep souvenir notes or coins from wherever we go. The shop assistant was surprised when we requested the oldest, tattiest-looking notes in change but was happy to get rid of them. I then asked about the protest going on outside the shop and was told it was against the government. This was such a relief so on leaving the store I decided to hang around and take some photos of everyone around with more confidence that I wasn’t going to get yelled at.
We later discovered back on board the ship that a couple we knew on account of becoming regular quizzing partners with us had had a closer encounter with the protest groups. They’d been bolder than me and had approached the group directly asking what they were protesting about. On finding out their grievances with the Argentinian government they’d helped the protestors first with stoking a brazier that many were huddled around to keep warm and then marching with them at one point waving flags and banging drums. I envy their experience although I think keeping a respectful distance and seeking information indirectly was possibly still the wisest move.
We left the protestors behind as they marched down towards the waterfront and continued to have a look around Ushuaia. I’m very fond of local street art wherever I go and there was plenty to see of varying levels of quality; simple tagging to murals and stencil work were all present and we found a brightly-coloured craft centre with a number of monuments and sculptures nearby. The protests and the artwork showed us that the people of Ushuaia were very passionate and it’s another reason why I absolutely loved the place.
By the time we reached the waterfront area the protest group had headed back into the town so we had a chance for a few last shots of the area from Ushuaia itself.
I stopped to take a photo of a sign in the dock area that reiterated the Argentinian view of the Falkland Islands as seen from that region of the country although, as explained elsewhere, the Argentine people we’d met on the Falklands didn’t seem to share quite as strong a view.
The last shots of Ushuaia from dry land were of the few vessels along the dock.