Tierra del Fuego National Park is getting closer to Ushuaia by the minute. As incentives bring more folks here to live, new homesites need to be built. The boundary of the park is about to be encroached upon. The whole concept of preserving and protecting wildlife seems to be a new one. Even though the layer of topsoil is very thin and the trees have taken one hundred years to become a respectable size, lumberjacks and sawmills are decimating this irreplaceable tree population. Someone thought it would be a good idea to bring beavers, muskrat and mink here from Canada to establish a fur industry. Once the critters were here, everyone forgot about how them and without predators, there are 25,000 beavers here now also cutting down the trees and flooding the streams. Now they are trying to figure out how to get ride of them again. Recently, a nice visitor's center was built in the park. Before that visitors had to wander the woods to relieve themselves.
A cruise ship was in port today so our guide skillfully counter programmed our activities so we barely knew they were here. Many folks were gathered at the sign which listed the distance to Alaska 18,000 kilometers. Some were on huge, heavily laden motorcycles and looked like they could have ridden here from there. After a few short hikes we headed back to town to visit the prison museum. This remote location shares its vibe with Alcatraz and Siberia. People who were sent here weren't planning on getting out anytime soon. In fact the first prisoners had to build the jail where they would stay for themselves. It's hard to imagine how they survived in the nasty weather during construction. It's also hard to imagine how the Yamana natives lived here without clothing. There are theories about smearing themselves with animal fat, but still. They did just fine until missionaries arrived and made them put on clothes. They did not know how to handle heavy, wet clothing and quickly sickened and died. All in the name of the Lord.
In the evening we boarded the Via Australis, a small cruise ship that will be our home for the next four nights.