Tierra del Fuego: Poetry at the End of the World

Photos by Karla and Ivan











Text by Karla Gachet

There are no McDonalds at the End of the World.

The expectation to get to the island of Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) started building up somewhere  along the Argentinian Patagonia. The landscape for the past five days had been eternal washed-out-yellow plains on both sides of the road. Once in a while, a flock of hundreds of sheep would cheer up the scene. The land of the “fueguinos” (the people who live in the island) is separated from the continent by the Strait of Magellan, where the two oceans that bathe the Americas meet up and make love.

The Great Island, once inhabited by the native tribes, is now shared by Chile and Argentina. The bullets and diseases brought by the “white man” ended four thousand years of native existence in less than a hundred years. What the white man hasn’t been able to destroy yet is the back drop to this place. We pushed south, still surrounded by plains, and all of a sudden the Andes got in our way.  Only these Andes go from East to West. Without knowing, we were about to witness the most amazing show of our lives. The protagonist: Mother Earth.

At the south of the south the trees talk all day and sometimes they dress in pastel colors.

If I would describe the landscape strictly from the point of view of my senses, it would be: red-orange colors, cold-dry air, clean smell, icy taste.  And it all happened in silence, although if you payed attention you could hear the whispers. Coincidentially, we had gotten there in the fall, the best time of the year to visit the southern tip of the continent. Ironically, the trees, in their agony, dress up in colors saturated with life.

We also had no clue that winter was just around the corner.

For the first time in my life I truly understood Ansel Adams.

I had never been too interested in nature photography. It simply wasn’t my thing. Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world, was the climax of our trip.  After walking for a few hours, nothing had caught our attention. It was low season and the streets were deserted.  All you could hear was the breathing of the massive snow-cap mountains surrounding the city. In front of them, was a deep blue ocean were Darwin had crossed in the Beagle a couple hundred years back, also looking for clues.

In the tourist office, we were given a map of the city.  We realized the entrance to the National Park was only a few blocks from our hotel. We went for a visit and ended up staying the rest of the day. We played with our cameras in a paradise of surreal colors and forms that were both quietly simple and loudly complex. With each step we took nature gave us a new gift. The compositional possibilities were infinite, the beauty entered our retinas and spread like a cancer throughout our bodies.  That night it rained and the temperature fell to an extreme low. We stayed four more days.

It all became clear… maybe ‘cause it snowed.

Nature had tricked us. We were completely addicted to the park, its sensations, moods, contrasts and negative spaces. We made the riskiest decission of our whole trip and took the mental leap. Our story was about her, we knew it all along, we were just scared of doing something different and unknown to us.

Being in that park changed who I am. So much beauty and perfection can not just be a series of fortunate coincidences. Thinking that we, as a species, are destroying this sublime live being is mind boggling. At the tip of the Earth you can still find magic and animals wear hooded coats. There is no blackberry connection , only germination, life, death and resurrection. That simple.

And then,  the earth desaturated itself. It woke up in black and white.



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15 responses to “Tierra del Fuego: Poetry at the End of the World

  1. David Bitton

    You guys rock. Congrats on reaching the half-way point. It is nice to see you push yourselves and try something different. Be safe and enjoy the journey north.

  2. MR. kohjiro kinno

    AGAIN, beautiful work!

    (Go LAKERS…)

  3. Wow, sounds and looks absolutely magical and spiritual. Must shake a person out of this world and time, as you’ve recounted. What a poignant apex to your journey.

    Have a safe and pleasant trip back north.

    • tothetip

      thanks Tracy! we are on our way back, still not done with our stories, we have Chile and Peru, we will be posting stories as we go.. two more months before coming home..
      hope you are doing good say hi to Cris!

  4. You made it! looks like a lovely reward at the end. Hey Karla for not being interested in nature photography, you did a really nice job.
    cheers to you both

    • tothetip

      Thanks Melissa, we are on our way back we have about five more stories to do and will be posting them soon. It`s been a wild ride so far! Hope you are doing well, thanks for taking the time to check our blog!

  5. Christy Kinskey

    The dance couple made an incredible story, immediately sucked me in. And this latest set is truly like lines of poetry in full color.

  6. And I think to myself : “What a wonderfull world” you had show us. Thanks Karla, thanks Ivan for letting me be a distant companion on your journey. (sorry for my english…). I enjoyed the trip.

  7. Jonah

    These are beautiful shots, I’m constantly amazed. You two are a treat…like dark chocolate melting over the tongue. Yummy! 😉

  8. It is amazing that even in Death there is Life, and in Life there is death, and the journey you’ve captured expresses it with so much truth and vividness. I truly felt the spirit of adventure, along with its inescapable ups and downs.

    Fan for life.

    • tothetip

      thank you Tasi!! We are still not done, there is the way back.. we are coming up Chile and then doing a few more stories in Peru and Ecuador. We will keep posting!! thanks for checking!!

  9. In some ways, these are your best pictures.
    Be careful and blog more.8~)

  10. loretta

    It’s hard to believe there is that much beauty in this world. Thank you for sharing.

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