Essays north and south
(The January Crestone Eagle features my account of a journey into the heart of the new Inuit state of Nunavut in Canada. Here’s a link for non-Crestonians:
The following account of a journey to Tierra del Fuego a year earlier balances things out.)
Darwin And The Yamana People
By LARRY JOSEPH CALLOWAY
The fires of Tierra del Fuego are gone. The Yamana people, whose smoke signals announced Magellan in 1520, are gone. Their bark canoes carrying fire, gone. And nobody for now lives at Wulaia, which in a missionary’s dictionary of the Yamana language meant beautiful-sheltered cove (aia).
On a summer day in January we landed at Wulaia in rubber Zodiacs from the Mare Australis, a clean new expedition crucero of Chilean registry. For now, this is the only cruise through the restricted Murray Narrows south of the Beagle Channel, a passage from Ushuaia to Cape Horn.
View of our ship from Wulaia
On the pebbled beach, with the mother ship shining like an ice berg among the blue islands of the cove, we shed our orange life vests and took a guided walk. Except for the masonry hulk of an old naval station, Wulaia is graciously unimproved. Our guide said the cruise company has leased the site from the Chilean government and plans to restore the vandalized two-story building as a visitor’s center with dorm rooms for archeologists. They have dug in the strata of discarded mussel shells and concluded the place was inhabited for perhaps 10,000 years before the arrival of Europeans. (more…)
Avoid eye contact, say nice things if you can think of any, and never, ever run!
The great white whale is a monstrous force of nature in American lit, but after walking among the relics of an Arctic whaling station established about the time Moby Dick was published, I saw that nature
Welcome to Parks Canada!
lost. The bow whale is long gone from the ice edge. The ice itself is receding. As the title of an early book on global warming suggests, we have seen “The End Of Nature.” I heard a Lakota spiritual leader say a white buffalo, among other white creatures, will be the sign of the rectification of nature, but I do not believe its time has come.
In this dark mood I returned from an aborted trip to an incredible wild national park in the Canadian Arctic that among other things has the tallest, sharpest granite exposures on the planet.