Totally different weather the next morning – clear skies have given way to gloomy fog. I’m up before the sun to catch a bus north as there is, after all, no other direction to go. My ultimate destination is Puerto Natales, Chile, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it that far in one day. I’ve got a long ride in a motorcoach ahead of me first, from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas. Between the weather, a border crossing, and a ferry, it could take twelve hours, and I may not want to knock off the final three hours to Puerto Natales in one go.
The bus ends up being nearly empty – maybe 5 people in a bus that could probably carry 80. It’s easy to move around and watch the jagged peaks of Tierra del Fuego float by in the pre-dawn fog. Eventually we put the mountains behind us and the landscape becomes sparse and raw. I pass the time taking and editing photos, and reading my Kindle. The time is also broken up by a customs stop as I begin the first in a long series of border crossings between Argentina and Chile.
About seven hours after leaving Ushuaia. we reach the ferry that will take us over the narrowest part of the Strait of Magellan and back onto the South American mainland. At this point, the strait is less than 3 miles across, so the ferry crossing is a relatively quick one. A few more hours on the bus and we reach Puntas Arenas before night falls.
Puntas Arenas on a Sunday evening does not have a lot to recommend it, and after grabbing a quick dinner (a Patagonian hamburger, which is a thin layer of ground beef held between two rock-hard buns with small holes in them, topped with a wilted lettuce leaf and an amount of mayo that even an American can be stunned by), I hop into an onward bus to Puerto Natales, another three hours away.