The End of the World
09.02.2020 - 09.02.2020 70 °F
Well, we’ve come out of the bottom of the world to go to the end of the world, and that’s fine with us. On this remarkable journey we have avoided the weather around us and gained two days! First we avoided storms in the Falkland Islands and went straight to the Antarctic Peninsula – one extra day there. Then because our passage back northward was so smooth, we arrived at Ushuaia, Argentine on Saturday night instead of Sunday noon. Ushuaia calls itself the “End of the World” and indeed it is the southernmost city in the world. It is at the bottom of Tierra del Fuego, itself an island at the bottom of South America, and it lies between the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel. Enough geography! Perhaps we are focused on where we are because we wind our way through channels that go every which way and even the Andes Mountains switch from north/south to east/west here.
Once we docked we boarded a smart catamaran and sailed through the Beagle Channel by rocky islands and an iconic lighthouse and rocky islets filled with wildlife. We saw sea lions and fur seals, blue-eyed cormorants and skua, petrels and a very playful humpback whale. We saw snow-capped mountains, lakes (Esmerelda Lake is sparkling green), waterfalls, bogs and beaches, and we breathed incredibly crisp fresh air.
Next we hiked through the beautiful beautiful Tierra del Fuego National Park, filled with tiny flowers on the plants hardy enough to grow here. Then we boarded the Tren del Fin del Mundo, End of the World Train, originally built to transport timber for a penal colony established here at the end of the 19th century. As the train wove through forests and lakes, we saw large families camping and children swimming. The water temperature was in the 60’s! Apparently the folks here at the end of the world are astounded at the weather this summer – it has never been so hot – and so they have lugged everything that looks like a tent and gone to enjoy the outside.
Once back at the ship, we held our last worship service, and we were indeed blessed. The congregation has almost doubled, and they pray and sing with joy. Our soloist sang a moving Welsh hymn, Calon Lan, and our pianist played a lovely prelude. The lector read beautifully, and our usher managed to get people to share their bulletins after we ran out. Our faithful Altar Guild tidied up after the service and left the candles and altar cloth and Christus Redemptor stacked up awaiting removal. We caught our breath when we saw this sign that our ministry had ended here - and then gave thanks that we had the privilege of serving here at all.