Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
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BT – Tierra del Fuego

After docking in the morning we had the best part of the day free in Ushuaia, although it took us a while to find a place to store our luggage. Once this was achieved we took a bus to the almost-end of Argentina, to visit Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego for a chance to see some Gondwanan vegetation that made bits of the place look very much like Tasmania.

The glaciated coastline has rivers and inlets bearing glacial melt-water to the sea.

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It was the flora in particular that reminded me of Tasmania and bits of New Zealand. I didn’t catch the names of everything, but there was a plant that looked a bit like our waratah or a grevillea, there were some very similar ferns (some may claim that all ferns look alike, but they don’t, and, in actual fact, the photo I’ve included is of a fern that seems quite different from the ones I know), there was a species of Drimys which was not unlike our own mountain pepper (which used to be classified a Drimys but is now in a new genus Tasmannia), and the most striking commonality was the presence of Nothofagus or beech species with their crinkly green leaves. There is some debate as to whether the presence of this family of trees across Tasmania, New Zealand and southern South America is due to the past Gondwanan connection, or because of seed dispersal across the oceans.

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The other notable doppelganger was an alpine peat bog around one of the lakes, with sphagnum moss and other species adapted for that less than hospitable environment.

bIMG_6736Our track made its way from an inlet, across a variety of terrain and out to a big bay not far from the Chilean border (not that we saw this border). The views of the bay and the snow-topped mountains were quite impressive even though the weather was a little dull.  bIMG_6751

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The rock was decidedly metamorphic.

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And this is the end of the road. This region around Ushuaia at the bottom of Argentina is known not only as “Tierra del Fuego” but also as “Fin del Mundo” — the end of the world. It is a very long way from Alaska, apparently, and even a very long way from Buenos Aires … which is, as it happens, our next stop. All we have to do is catch the bus back to town, have a mad taxi ride through peak hour Ushuaian traffic jams, pay the excess baggage fee, and catch the evening flight … and hope that, as stated on our itinerary, we would be met at the airport in Buenos Aires.

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