I am Dr. Chocolate. In 2008, I earned a PhD from the University of Washington by studying chocolate. Now, I am on the hunt for the best chocolate in the world.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Getting to Ushuaia

OK, I am on the edge of delirium for not having slept for two days, but before I head back to the hostel and to bed, I want to explain exactly what it took to get here to Ushuaia, Argentina -- the port of embarkation for Antarctica and almost the farthest point on earth from Seattle.

I left my apartment on Friday morning at 3am, with Shuttle Express to SeaTac. (My friend Shawn Fowler gets a prize for getting up at 3am to send me a bon voyage text!) At 6am, my flight left SeaTac for Dallas.

Because I booked these flights almost a year ago, all the flight times had changed, leaving me with just 40 minutes in Dallas to make my connection to Miami. Which would have been fine, except the pilot missed our approach to the runway, and we had to fly around for a while and get back in line, which meant by the time we actually landed, I had just 20 minutes to get from one end of ginormous Dallas Fort Worth airport to the other. Two other people were also connecting to the Miami flight, and together we sprinted through the airport, arriving as they were just closing the doors, sweating profusely.

Then we sat on the plane for two and a half hours, because first they found blue toilet water leaking from the side of the plane, and then coffee. This was mysterious, so they ended up shutting down the entire water system and importing bottled water and moist towelettes for the comfort of passengers en route. Except there were two different supplies for bottled water and moist towelettes at Dallas Fort Worth airport, so we had to negotiate with both and wait a long time. I seized this opportunity to poke my head into the cockpit and smile at the pilots, who invited me in and offered me a jumpseat. We spent a lovely half hour together, and they showed me all the dials and knobs that they use to fly the plane.

Finally, we took off and flew to Miami, where I boarded a magnificent brand new Boeing 777 for my overnight flight to Buenos Aires. Normally I am an Economy flier just like the rest of the 99%, but this time I had a luxurious Business Class seat. I believe I had more square footage than my last two apartments in Seattle combined, along with a seat that transformed into a bed, a down duvet, personal giant screen television, champagne, gourmet food, and a personal amenity kit that probably cost more than my rent. I watched Cowboys and Aliens from my bed and felt very glad and like I was glimpsing the lifestyle of the 1%.

In Buenos Aires, I deplaned, changed money for whatever it is they use here in Argentina - I am so tired I have not even figured out the word for the currency yet - and took a one hour shuttle ride across Buenos Aires to the domestic airport, Jorge Newbury. I saw as much of Buenos Aires as I could along the way - cattle ranches, high rise apartment buildings, cobblestone streets with Paris-esque balconies, and many plazas with revolutionary statues. The Argentines are also all phenomenally good looking and appear to have unique intellectual pursuits - among many other places of higher education, I saw (if my translations were correct) an Academy for Perfectionism and Experimentation, and an Institute for Courage and Creativity. Interesting place, Buenos Aires. Hopefully I can go back there one day and take a closer look.

Jorge Newbury afforded the most interesting sight of all, as it was right across the street from an ocean promenade. I took a walk along the seafront and marveled at the sight of totally opaque, brown waves in every direction as far as my eye could see. I had never seen such a thing before in my life. It looked exactly like chocolate milk, and I am not even saying that because of my own relationship with chocolate. It did not even smell of the sea. But no one seemed to mind, and early rising Argentines were out running along the promenade and sailing on the disgusting, disturbing brown sea, and even fishing in it, I guess for blocks of mud or chocolate fish.

Then it was a five hour wait for my flight to Ushuaia, and three hours to get here, and here I am, at the end of the world. Tomorrow I trek in the National Park and see the Beagle Channel. Now I go back to the hostel and to bed, because I think I can no longer form words without some sleep. Next post, more coherent!


  1. Yay, first comment! I would like to investigate chocolate oceanography as it sounds like you may have truly been to the point of sleep deprivation hallucinating. But, all good travel tales (not to be confused with "travel tail") start with sweating, stressing, unexplained blue and brown liquids and moist towelettes. So, off to a great start Dr.
    Keep it coming...

  2. I loved Ushuaia when I was there. There is always something to do no matter the season: during South America's longest ski season, ski Cerro Castor and Glaciar Martial. In summer, take the ski lift or hike up the glacier, see penguins and orcas in the Beagle Channel and ride the End of the World Train to Tierra del Fuego National Park. The city is kept quite damp by its sub-polar oceanic climate. Then I recommend to rent an apartment in buenos aires and get to know the beautiful capital. It is not cold there!