How I Almost Got Rabies


So, at the moment, it’s 3AM in the morning, and I’m having trouble falling asleep.  To combat this problem, I have decided to update my blog, which I haven’t done for a while.  This is actually a story from late June.  Certain person told me that I should write a diary when I was traveling so I won’t forget stuff, but I don’t need to, because I remember everything.  Everything except not to lock myself outside of my car sometimes.

If you can read the title, this happened in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world, during the winter.  If I want to tell the story, I might as well start from the beginning, or else the content will be pretty short.  So here goes.

I took a very cheap flight from Puerto Montt, Chile to Punta Arenas, Chile.  There was nothing to do in Punta Arenas during the southern hemisphere winter; the penguins are gone, a lot of the shops are closed, so I left for Punta Arenas as soon as I arrived.  Most people go to Ushuaia during the summer, because first, they might be looking for a cruise to Antarctica (I want to do that so bad), second, it is a lot warmer, third, everything is more accessible, and fourth, there is a lot more daylight.  I actually wanted to go to Ushuaia during the winter because everything look better in the snow.

However, winter poses it’s challenges and it is not just the cold.  Argentina is being bombarded by inflation since forever.  Argentinians often joke that the chicken you buy for 50 pesos today is going to be 100 pesos next week.  While luxury bus costs 1 dollar an hour in Peru, it costs 10 dollars in Argentina.  Therefore, the hitchhiking network in the south of Argentina is really abundant, in the summer.  Meanwhile, in the winter, it is another story.

The cost to take a bus from Punta Arenas to Rio Grande is 15000 Chileans Pesos, which is about 22 dollars.  It is a lot by poor South America standards, but it is not a lot.  However, from Rio Grande to Ushuaia, it is 20k Chi Pesos, which is ridiculous consider it is a two hour short ride.  So I took the bus to Rio Grande and proceeded to test my luck on getting hitchhike.

5 hours and curb sitting in the cold later, I found someone.  When we started on our way, it was already dark and I missed some good scenery.  The road was icy and the previously melted ice made the shitty road muddy.  On top of the darkness of the night, the car window is covered in mud.  The only thing you can do is take a nap and hope you don’t die in your sleep while the car drift into a deadly collision on these icy road.

Due to the road condition, it took us more than 3 hours to get to Ushuaia and it was already past 10PM.  That seriously limited my ability to find affordable housing, not to mention I learned the hard way that being so far south, there is inflation on top of inflation.  Everything is expensive but I did get unlimited cook yourself eggs for breakfast, I can theoretically make up for the money I spent through eating eggs.

The sun rises at 10AM and sets at 5PM in Ushuaia at the end of June.  However, there was no bone freezing cold that I might have associated with being in Alaska in December or streets covered so deep in snow that I can build an igloo (igloos are so much cooler than tents) if I ran out of money to pay for bed.  There was no snow, and it wasn’t that cold compared to Bolivia.

I reluctantly woke up at half to 10AM only to see some magnificent light outside through my window.  The reluctancy became enthusiasm as I pack my camera and stuff and went outside to see one of the best sunrise I have seen even thou it is not possible to actually see the sun during this time of the year.  Ushuaia is the end point of the Andes range, and mountains surround the city from the North while the Beagle Channel surrounds the city from the South.  During this time of the year, the sun is located so northeast during sunrise that sun never goes past the mountain summit.  Despite the sun not showing, the orange, bright red and yellow hue illuminated the summits, the sky, and the Beagle Channel.  The old forgotten boat anchored in the channel looked more haunting in the orange light.  Comparing to woken up at 5AM to see the sunrise on the Amazons, seeing this sunrise after sleeping in till 10AM is a huge blessing.

I really got lucky because the weather near the south pole during this time of the year tends to be shitty, and I never saw sunrise like this again in the next five days.

To be honest, like always, I really have no plan except to catch the Copa America finale at a bar so I can talk shit to Argentinians when Chile wins again.  The Messi fake retirement afterward is an icing on the cake, I had a lot of fun talking trash that day even thou Ushuaia really isn’t the most exciting place to watch soccer because everyone is a tourist.  Talking about tourist, there are more people visiting Ushuaia than I expected.  There is normal Brazilian “we want to ski”ers, and other people who can only get holidays during this time.  Ushuaia is a nice little town, pretty scenic, especially from the road to the airport looking back or from a boat on the Beagle Channel.

There is a lot to do in the winter as well, but not much that you don’t have to pay.  I have seen a lot of pictures from people who have already been, so I really wanted to do this two things, Los Dientes de Navarino on Isla Navarino, which is absolutely inaccessible during the winter, because you need a boat or a plane to go there, and hike to Laguna de Los Tempanos, which is also closed, on paper.

There is a lot of other stuff to do too, like going to Tierra del Fuego park, which is really expensive and not worth it in my opinion.  Or take a boat ride to see seals and birds, which is also pretty expensive and I have done plenty everywhere else.  Or Glaciar Martial, which is a pretty easy hike to go up, which I did, but the glacier had melted so badly that there wasn’t much worth seeing.  I did bring a good amount of beer on that hike so it was enjoyable, and I loved the trees branches in the winter.  They remind me of the weirwood in Game of Thrones.  There is many other places, but almost all of them requires a quite expensive taxi ride.

Now let’s talk about Laguna de los Tempanos.  It is a glacier lake, located right underneath the Vinciguerra glacier, which is also the largest glacier in the area.  I believe this place is the most scenic place in Ushuaia, but of course I could be wrong.  It is part of the trek Paso de Ovejas, which is closed during winter season, but judging by the weather, winter hasn’t officially arrived yet.  So I decided that even if I don’t do anything else, I want to accomplish this.

So I hitchhiked to the road entrance of the village before the trail begins.  It was very easy hitchhike because everyone is going through the main road, however I had to walk about an hour to reach the trail.  The road was full of mud which is bad sign because that means at higher altitude there will be abundant of ice, making things quite dangerous.  There were a lot of dogs and they weren’t at all friendly.  Big dogs, small dogs, hounds, mastiffs like the ones that bit off Ramsay Bolton’s face (sorry spoiler) looked at me like I was going to intrude the home they were protecting.  Barking followed everywhere I walked and some strays even followed me.  I didn’t really mind all the teeth barring and barking because I never thought dogs would bite me because I had always been cool with dogs my whole life.

I got to the trail head and chose to ignore this trail is closed sign and hopped over the little gate blocking my way.  The dogs followed.  While I was surveying for rangers who might kick me out, the dogs kept barking around me while I looked around.  A car started it’s engine outside of the gate and startled the dogs.  One of them decided to take a shot at my calf.  Why did I wore shorts in the damn cold I can never explain.  If I wore my pants it would have been nothing, but I was wearing shorts and I got 4 bloody holes on my leg.

It was probably karma, when something says it’s closed, I probably should just turn away, but I didn’t and karma bit me, quite literally.  I normally feign ignorance to danger because it is no use to worry about it, but this time I was quite worried and more than ever pissed.  I normally have good luck, but at that moment I felt all the bad luck I hadn’t been getting rolled together into a black ball and hit me, in the form of the word rabies.  First of all, I didn’t have a rabies shot, because it is expensive, and second, the last way I want to die is from rabies.

So I wrapped up my leg with an extra shirt and turned back.  Fortunately someone was leaving for the city in the village and he gave me a ride back.  I didn’t go to the hospital.  Because one, I’m probably retarded.  Two, I didn’t think in the southern most city in the world, the hospitals would be stocked with rabies medicines.  Three, I don’t like hospitals.  Four, I hope the rabies virus can’t survive the cold (I know nothing).  So I did what I can.  I washed and iodine cleaned everything so the bite won’t get infected and hoped for the best.

I also drank a lot for the next two days just in case alcohol would magically clean everything up, of course ( I still know nothing).  I also did a bunch of other things like hiking the Glaciar Martial, and go to casinos.

The three days after I was bitten, I woke up with a fever.  I couldn’t stop imagining myself foaming at the mouth and acting all crazy or even worse, imagining myself stabbing myself to death before I go all crazy.  The minute I felt the fever I decided to leave Ushuaia.  Also I can’t keep spending money staying there.  To not burden my body further, I went to look for last minute flights instead of hitchhiking north.  To my fortune, I found a cheap flight to El Calafate in that same afternoon for a really good price.

The view of the end of the Andes was gorgeous from the airplane, and it was a gorgeous day.  It was actually the only day that I saw the sun since I arrived.  I spent the next day feeling sick in El Calafate while asking everyone and anyone for medical advice (someone told me there is no rabies in Argentina) to make myself feel a bit better.  Then the day after I recovered and more than three months have passed and I don’t think any virus have traveled to my brain (knock on wood, I actually did that).

So that’s the story, and I think it is not as exciting as the title suggests, and that’s why I sort of stopped writing stuff.  Things happen, but I’m sort of desensitize to them now that I stopped finding things record-worthy.  But you know what, I’m bored, might as well write some stuff so until next one.


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