Our life in Ushuaia remains quiet and neutral. We don’t take much effort to integrate in the social life and focus on our new goals. Writing and studying. We test our brains and forget the bicycles for a while. Zoë takes on a course about marketing, while Olivier delves into the world of food access. We enjoy to have time to take on interesting subject and challenge our mind. Besides studying we are busy with writing. We make a lot of overtime, in a positive way, with our book. We write, write, write and make some good progress. We enjoy to recollect the anecdotes and laugh out loud about our own bewilderment. The book will be a report of our trip, but we dig deeper into our feelings and emotions. Those moments when we get on the nerves of each other, or the tears of joy, give the story a deeper meaning. We take away our shame and we bare our soul completely. While writing, outside in the sun or inside protected from the wind, all the emotions return in our mind. All those emotions during our trip created new knowledge. We learn an incredible amount about ourself, about others and about the world. Those things we want to share with you.
An insight arises from the smallest moments, which appear all day around us. It are those moments that learn us a new lesson every time. In fact, we learn a new lesson every day. Also in Ushuaia, in the house of Flavia where we stay these days, there are enough moments that give us pause for thought. Flavia goes three weeks to Buenos Aires with her kids, a short holiday to the sun. They have to three thousand kilometers, a four day trip. She rents another room in the house with AirBnB. She asks if we want to take care of the guests and welcome them in the house, while the parents will do the cleaning part. It is no problem for us so every three days we welcome the new guests in the house and are hosts while renting ourself. We are shocked by the way people behave with the belongings of a hotel, a hostel, or in the case a person’s house. We show the guests their room, the bathroom which they share with us and tell them that they can use the kitchen. The toilet paper disappear day by day, the bathtub is full with hair and toothpaste sticks everywhere. They almost don’t de the dishes, clean a used pan with a white towel and open all cupboards and eat other peoples food. It happens one time that our leftover meal from the day before disappeared and we looked disappointed and hungry at an empty fridge. It knocks our socks of when they walk into the laundry room and start using the washing machine without permission.
The laundry room
The laundry room is private room, and we don’t say a word about it in our welcome speech. Flavia made very clear that the washing machine isn’t for the guests. One day a Swiss lady is one of the guests. Zoë is calling with her friend in the Netherlands who just gave birth, when the Swiss lady runs into our room. Zoë suddenly has to interrupt her phone call. The Swiss went to the laundry room and thought she could do the laundry, even while she was in touch with Flavia who told her that she should ask our help. Serious troubles. The hallway is flooded. With a powerful fountain the water blows out of the wall. The lady broke the water connection off the wall. It is impossible to put something into the hole, the water stream is to strong. It doesn’t take long before the first floor is flooded with water. Olivier already ran to Flavia’s father who lives next door and luckily he knows where the water tap is. After two hours we cleaned everything and Zoë wants to ask miss Swiss something. We talked with Flavia about the incident, but when Zoë asks if miss Swiss can make her apologies to Flavia, she reacts offended. She is old enough to decide what she has to do, although she thinks she is. Ironic, we think. When two days later two other guests also start doing the laundry by themselves, we are astounded again. We can’t imagine how this is possible, are we abnormal decent? We put a paper ‘privado’ on the door, maybe that helps.
Time flies when we write, study and host the guests. We have a nice relationship with Flavia’s parents, grandpa and grandma, like we name them. On the 49th anniversary of their wedding day they invite us to dine out with them, to replace their children. Grandpa was a researcher in the navy and even went to Antarctica. They are wellborn people and aren’t impressed by their children, who got children too young and didn’t go to university. It is a compliment, but also heartbreaking when they say that they see us as their grandchildren who do something good with their lives. ‘I know you would miss us’ grandma says when we visit them later in the week. They take us everywhere and almost invent a new place that we have to see.
Flavia returns with her children. She looks very tanned from the sun, while the kids didn't change any colour. We ask the youngest girl what she has been doing during the holiday. ’Nada’ she says. ‘But what is nothing?’ Olivier tries, ‘Did you read, go to the beach, met some friends, swimming?’. Sofia shrugs, ’no, nada’ she replies again. We are often surprised by the way things go in this family, unfortunately in the negative way. The children are pithless and Flavia has more attention for the guests than for the kids. She is too kind and takes very good care of us, but we prefer she would take more for her own kids. The children are 8, 13 and 14 years old and prepare a warm meal themselves every lunch, without vegetables because Flavia doesn’t buy them. One night Flavia disappears and she stays away for two days. We ask the children if they know where their mother is, but they have no idea. When we ask if they aren’t worried, Sofia shrugs again, ‘it happens more often’. During our trip we can an insight into many families. Sometimes impressive, sometimes depressing. As a part of all these families we get a sharp image of all types of education and habits. We touch the heart of the culture, discover political flavours and get to know how people think about their country.
In the last weeks we get to know some other people in Ushuaia. On a Saturday the Pumas, the national rugby team of Argentina, plays against Chile, in Ushuaia. From the top of a small hill we are watching the game when a man comes to us and offers one of his tickets. Gustavo prefers the happiness of giving his ticket away instead of selling it. The next weekend we are eating together with his family and Olivier plays a game of indoor football with Gustavo’s friends. ‘Giving away my tickets brings me two new friends, selling it only some money’ Gustavo says sober. ‘True’ says Olivier, when we think about it another time, ‘the happiness of giving lasts much longer than the happiness of selling’. Nowadays people forgot to value of give and share, including us. This is something we want to improve ourselves a lot. It is one of the lessons we learn and take with us on our trip.
Once a week Zoë hitchhikes to the rugby training and one night she gets a ride from Peter, a Dutch guy who lives in Ushuaia. He lives here together with his Argentinian wife and two kids. He is a proud dutchman but with a great heart for Argentina. We are glad to see the advantages and disadvantages of moving far away from home. Peter is definitely doing a good job. He smuggles us into the National Park and we hike up to Cerro Guanaco just before we leave Ushuaia. Almost every week we do some hikes with the dog and we know the mountains around Ushuaia pretty well. We are pleased that one of the four dogs isn’t locked up anymore, but runs around on the street like all the dogs in Argentina. ’She will miss you’ says Flavia just before we say goodbye. We are happy that we brought a little change in the family life, just by showing how it works in another way.
After two months we exchange the luxury of a permanent home, a closet, a bathroom, a fridge, an oven and a soft bed for the bicycle bags. The desire to cycle again and continue our trip is enormous. New countries wait for us, meeting new people and new adventures. We cycle to the entrance gates of Ushuaia and put our thumbs up. First destination, Buenos Aires.